The economy may be growing again, but most companies are still looking for ways to do more with less. Smart companies know that efficiency doesn’t come from cutting costs; efficiency comes from getting more from what they spend. One area that is commonly overlooked is brand training. According to a recent Interbrand global study, 59 percent of companies surveyed train employees on their brand, but 30 percent don’t link that training to the customer experience or to desired behaviors.
Brands exist to inspire consumers to act—to seek out the brand, to choose the brand and to recommend the brand. If we aren’t training employees to act on the brand, why bother? Merely knowing what the brand stands for does not help employees to be part of the delivery of the brand to customers.
So how do we connect employee action to brand in a real way? Brand behaviors are not the same as corporate values. Values are what we believe. Behaviors are how we act. Values inform the choices we make. Behaviors focus our actions. Brand behaviors enable every employee, no matter what their job function, to play a part in delivering the brand to customers. They also provide a framework for discretionary effort.
Nordstrom is rightly renowned for their effectiveness in empowering their employees to deliver a branded experience. They do it by setting a simple, meaningful goal: “Provide outstanding customer service.” The famous one-page Nordstrom Employee Handbook had one rule: “Use best judgment in all situations.” Everyone has heard at least one story about a Nordstrom employee who went above and beyond to provide outstanding customer service. Nordstrom trains their employees on what the brand means and empowers their delivery of this asset. They identify the behaviors both broadly and specifically. From “treat the customer as you would want to be treated in the same situation” to “always come from behind the counter and hand the customer their purchase; thank them by name.” It creates a memorable experience that keeps customers loyal.
A start to identifying desired brand behaviors is to look within the company. If the brand promise is clear, chances are there are already employees who are acting on the brand. Identifying those behaviors and replicating them doesn’t cost much, but what it delivers—loyal customers—is priceless.
Is your brand strong enough to let your employees use their best judgment? If not what do you think it will take to get it there?
Join the debate and let us know what you think!