Column: Integrated -- The Gift of Engagement
In this season of giving, many of us find ourselves making lists: gift lists, holiday grocery lists, to-do-before-the-end-of-the-year lists. All of them inevitably lead to the most hopeful one of all, the New Year’s Resolution list. That’s the ultimate make-my-life/my-job/me-better list.
This season there’s an opportunity to add a gift for you, your colleagues, and company to the 2007 resolution list. Integrating employee brand engagement in 2007 will lead to committed and motivated employees who understand the role they play in delivering a customer experience that reflects the brand.
A brand is both a promise made to consumers and the perception that consumers have of a product, service, or company. A brand is not just what a company wants it to stand for; it must take into account the reputation the brand holds in the customer’s mind.
All touchpoints influence this customer perception. That’s why educating employees on the brand is so crucial, because whether their job requires them to work directly or indirectly with customers, what they do impacts the customer experience and is therefore intrinsically linked to the brand.
Consumer touchpoints can be separated into four categories: marketing and communications; people and behavior, such as salespeople and customer service representatives; products and services, including new and existing ones; and environments, which have to do with how and where products or services are displayed or offered.
The benefits of engaging employees extend beyond the external customer experience—there are great internal benefits as well. When people engage, they are intellectually connected and stimulated, which adds a sense of purpose to their work. An emotional connection between employees, the company, and the brand is a great motivator and inspires people to deliver their best work.
Even beyond the “touchy-feely” benefits, these programs can also deliver cost savings and efficiencies. In 2004, a Gallup Poll showed that disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $300 billion in lost productivity.
At Enterprise IG, we have worked to engage employees with their companies’ brands for almost a decade. The Enterprise IG Buy-In Benchmark research model identifies four types of employees: Brand Champions, who know and care about the brand; Bystanders, who know but don’t care; Loose Cannons, who care but don’t know; and Weak Links, who neither know nor care.
The goal of any engagement program is to build the number of Brand Champions by providing the tools and information to grow both intellectual connection and emotional commitment. For example, if Loose Cannons are given information to expand their knowledge of the brand, they can develop into natural Brand Champions. A program that gives Bystanders a spark to ignite an emotional connection can also shape behavior for the better.
A U.K.-based cable company, for example, was able to more than double its Brand Champions in a year from 22 percent to 53 percent. The company’s customer drop-off rate also began to fall dramatically.
So why not make 2007 the year when your resolution is also a gift? Employee engagement is the gift that will keep on giving.
Jean Brandolini Lamb is a director of brand strategy for Enterprise IG, a global brand agency. (firstname.lastname@example.org)