So how does an organization manage its customer experience to ensure its people, processes and culture are reinforcing customer expectations? A key foundation of customer experience management is internal branding.
Internal branding in essence is ‘living’ and ‘delivering on’ your organization’s brand promises. It is an organization-wide initiative that enables all employees to understand how they can personally impact on a customer’s experience and contribute to building the company’s reputation and brand.
Many organizations fall into the trap of developing an advertising strategy with the intent of communicating how wonderful and customer-centric the organization is. While the advertising direction may be in-line with the organization’s brand, where it falls down is where what is being promoted is not being delivered.
The result of this is that both customers and employees are disconnected with the organization, as UK oil company Total experienced. The company ran an ad campaign featuring the perfect employee called Steve who spends his time running around helping customers with heavy loads, childcare and car maintenance with the tagline ‘You’ll find people like Steve at all of our service stations’. The company did not reinforce this customer expectation with training and additional support to help employees, leaving both the employee and the customer frustrated and disappointed.
Internal branding today is all about connecting employees with an organization’s brand and ensuring the internal brand experience is authentic. Just ask one of the 46,000 employees of The Dow Chemical Co. about the authenticity of their internal brand. They will most likely point you to the ‘I Am the Human Element’- an internal campaign which celebrates the contributions and successes of their employees, helping the organization achieve its vision.
FedEx is another example of an organization that has focused on building a strong internal brand and as a result is considered one of the world’s most favored companies and trusted employers. The company’s work not only knows and believe in the values instilled by their ‘People-Service-Profit’ internal brand, but they can cite chapter and verse the actions they and others have taken to deliver the FedEx brand and what it means to them. This level of employee engagement deliveries significant benefit to FedEx in terms of high performance and strong profits.
So perhaps it is time to consider the benefit to your organization of building a strong internal brand. Recent transitional times with a turnover of employees, changing management styles or the worsening of departments may have had more of an impact on your internal brand than you realize.