Jun 1, 2010

Trust: Where your brand makes it or breaks it

Trust is formed (or lost) when your customers call into sales or customer service.  This is the most important touch point for your brand.  It’s where all of your promises, values and claims come to reality.

How are your sales and customer service people doing?

Wars are won in the trenches

You can craft the most elegant strategy, but it’s all for naught if it isn’t executed well.

McDonalds knows their brand starts at the store level.  They work very hard to deliver a consistent in-store experience.  Their stores are clean, well lit, well staffed and efficient.  No matter where you go, McDonalds is always the same.

McDonalds’ commitment to deliver on the basics provides them the freedom to innovate.  Their in-store experience is their foundation; they don’t mess with it.  They do innovate with new products, promotions and campaigns.  Customers are willing to try new products or participate in a new promotion, because they already have comfort with the baseline experience.

Mixed signals cause dissonance

When the brand and the buying experience don’t connect it creates dissonance.

A great introduction or referral can be squandered by an out-of-date website.  The customer hears great things about the company, but the website tells a different story.  The customer is facing dissonance in this experience.

The other extreme is a negative experience with the sales or customer service staff.  This is potentially the most damaging circumstance.  A poor website can be overcome with great salesmanship, but a great website can be demolished with poorly trained or unprofessional staff.

Companies need to stamp out dissonance.  Every time your customers receive mix signals it inhibits their ability to trust your brand.  The goal is to create a consistent brand experience no matter the touch point.

What do your customers expect when they connect with your staff?  Do your staff fulfill your customers expectations?

Create a customer experience document

Give your staff operating guidelines to create an ideal customer experience.  A customer experience document is an important template to let your team know what is important, how they should handle customers, and what they need to do to create meaningful customer experiences.

A customer experience document doesn’t have to be complex or laborious.  Tell it like it is:

  1. What kind of experience will a customer have when they call a sales or service person?
  2. Why is this experience important to your customers?
  3. Why does your firm value creating these experiences?

Set the expectations for your entire organization, and empower your staff to deliver on your brand in every interaction.  It’s in the trenches where trust is built.

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