In a hyper-connected world dominated by instant feedback, a business’s brand has nowhere to hide. No matter what the product or the service your company offers, the customer’s total experience is constantly being evaluated, documented, shared and commented on by everybody and anybody.
Life in the public eye is a fact of life for brands today. How your business prepares for the scrutiny, however, can be the difference maker.
A brand’s reputation can be one of the most valuable assets a company has. A good one creates customer loyalty and attracts future workers. A poor one does just the opposite. It not only jeopardizes repeat purchases, it damages a business’s standing with potential hires.
What can companies do about fortifying their brand reputation? While businesses allocate resources to create expectations across customer audiences, they don’t do nearly enough to align the behaviors of their employees with those promises.
That’s where HR comes in. Employees make the brand promise come to life. In fact, people are the brand. They are the strongest and most influential representatives a company has. When it comes to integrating people with the brand’s promise, HR should be playing a bigger role within the enterprise. They should be stepping-up to fortify the brand’s reputation. Doing so not only supports marketing’s mission, it bolsters the strategic interests of the entire organization.
Social recognition is the best tool to use here. With it, HR can do 2 things right away to solidify the brand.
1 | Make the brand “actionable” for everyone.
The integrity of your brand’s reputation rests on the attitudes and actions of your employees. It’s critical that employees understand two things: 1/ the promise the brand represents to customers and 2/ the role they play in not simply meeting those expectations but exceeding them.
Marketing uses “offers and incentives” to inform and inspire customers. Your social recognition system can do the same for employees.
Through targeted communications, goal setting and reinforcement mechanisms, you can set brand-based behavioral expectations that are actionable for all employees. For example, the most progressive recognition programs talk about the brand’s broader attributes but do so in the context of individual behaviors. They segment messages across job functions so employees can relate to the goals, objectives and illustrative examples given to them. All of that helps to bring the brand to life and makes the employee’s role in demonstrating it much more actionable.
2 | Give employees a stake in exceeding customer expectations
Motivating your employees to go “above and beyond” will improve customer satisfaction and ultimately strengthen the brand. Employees will need to know what actions are expected of them and how their efforts support the brand promise, of course. But they will also need to know what’s in it for them when they do.
The non-cash rewards within your recognition program can play a big role here. Anything from group or individual travel to merchandise to retail gift cards can be used to reward employees (or groups of employees) who delight customers.
But social recognition is also a great communications tool. Since employees are so critical in building and maintaining brand relationships with customers, communications is a critical success factor in brand management. It’s one of the most powerful tools an organization has. With social recognition, employees are constantly acknowledged for living the brand. They hear frequently from executive managers, direct supervisors and coworkers who share the same commitment. That steady stream of communications not only reinforces the collective focus on exceeding expectations, it solidifies the brand’s promise across the entire enterprise.