I try not to use this as a forum to rant. So after having been cut off by a service truck the other day on my way home from work I began thinking about the impact that experience had on me. The truck in question was a branded vehicle of a company that provided in-home heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) repair and sales.
I am constantly talking to friends about customer service generally, in particular the rapid decline of retail sales and the influence it has on how, when and where I shop. The same holds true for this experience with the service truck. Would I want to do business with an organization that has service people who drive like complete idiots or park poorly?
I guess my point in this is that branding and corporate culture extended beyond their intended or perhaps obvious consequences. I’ve been in the room and watched CEO’s, CMO’s or brand strategists pound on the table the importance of customer service and brand value proposition. Rarely, I think, do they understand how important it is for that brand value to be communicated in a meaningful way that permeates the entire organization. There is nothing quite like a group of starch collars setting corporate direction and have it ‘inflicted and enforced’ company wide without the feedback, opinion or …input of staff. My advice – include them in real and meaningful ways.
CEO’s need to learn, understand and value staff feedback and participation in the brand. Staff after all, in spite of what ever CEO thinks – are equal partners in executing your brand value. There is the old adage that suggests that ‘everyone is in sales’. I think while not all organizations are sales oriented, all firms need to deliver customer service, regardless of their business line.
Two salient points: first, all employees, through their actions and positions represent the organization. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, those employees have the capacity (knowingly or not) to reach into stakeholder groups, customers and potential customers that CEO’s will never have simply because of where and how they operate their job function.
To that end, the CEO of that HVAC company whose driver cut me off on the highway, that I will never meet their him/her. I will however remember the brand for having tolerated crappy drivers.
You live your brand and to me, crappy drivers = crappy service. Your brand after all isn’t what you think it is or want it to be, it’s really what people say about you when you’re not in the room.