•  B2B organizations are becoming more focused on creating a great customer experience, but the path to improvement may not be clear
  • Even though employees are key to creating a great customer experience, there is often no team chartered with supporting their needs
  • To enable employees to be good on-brand communicators and experts at delivering the right customer experience, leaders at every level must reinforce their value

Today more than ever, your brand is only as good as what your customers say it is. If your company is not delivering on your brand promise, you are in for a rough ride.In part one of this blog series I looked at the problems with corporate brand messaging that create unclear expectations for customer experience. In this post, I’ll explore another important element connecting brand and customer experience: your employees. The Missing Link Between Brand Experience and Customer Experience

Many companies are increasing their investment and resources dedicated to creating the optimal customer experience. In SiriusDecisions’ 2017 Global CMO Study, “enhancing customer experience” was the top priority chosen by survey respondents. And in the most recent SiriusDecisions B2B Buying Study, nearly 80 percent of respondents said that direct customer experience or indirect experience (e.g. case studies, word of mouth, references) had a strong impact on their buying decision.

While the case for investment in building good customer experiences is clear, the path toward getting there often isn’t Many companies fail to connect the dots between a brand promise that creates expectations of a first-rate customer experience and the actual delivery of that experience through employees. While investment grows in customer experience, the needs of employees responsible for delivering it are given short shrift.

The SiriusDecisions Brand Navigator, a new model we introduced at our recent Summit, explains the relationships between these three forces and how they can be optimized.  We compare the interaction between these functions to the way a GPS works:

  • Your brand promise sets the expectation for what the customer experience will be – it is similar to the destination that you program into your GPS.
  • Employees deliver the customer experience – they’re the drivers holding the GPS receiver.
  • The customer experience function is like a satellite orbiting Earth, providing feedback on how the experience is progressing.

However, the needs of employees also must be addressed in any kind of a comprehensive, strategic way. To remedy the disconnect between brand and customer experience, SiriusDecisions believes three things are needed:

  1. A team focused on employee needs in a holistic, strategic way. We have been calling for the formation of “employee lifecycle marketing” teams for a number of years. This function would be charged with building an employer brand in alignment with the brand promise, ensuring that employees are knowledgeable about the company’s strategy and mission, and executing programs aimed at driving higher employee engagement and advocacy. Without a team to do the work, the work is not going to get done.
  2. Audience-centricity for the employee audience.  Most marketing functions now realize that an audience-centric approach is worth the extra effort required. It simply produces better results – and yet we continue to treat our employees as if they are all part of one big nameless, faceless blob!  It’s time to move beyond one-size-fits-all employee communications newsletters and put the company’s message and strategy into context for employee personas, considering factors such as region, department, level, length of service, and work environment.
  3. Leaders who embody and reinforce the brand promise. Do your executives talk about the company’s vision and values regularly in company meetings?  Do managers make efforts to bring the company’s brand promise to life in their team’s context? Are cultural values reinforced through recognition programs and performance management systems?  While creating a new team to manage employee lifecycle is an important step, the effort will never scale – or may simply never take shape – if it is not supported by leaders throughout the organization.

The last great frontier for audience-centricity is close to home – it’s our own employees. If you’re interested in getting serious about how to build the link between brand, employees and customer experience – give us a call!  We’d love to help you navigate this new challenge.