Your employees are the essence of your brand identity. No matter how great your product is, if your employees don’t believe in, communicate and represent your brand, your brand is toast. It just can’t be successful.
You need to set guidelines for your employees, such as be helpful, adhere to policy, use such-and-such phrasing, etc. But you also need to let your employees think for themselves. Let them be creative problem-solvers.
The way you lead employees is the way those employees will communicate your brand to customers. Here are some pointers to leading your employees for your brand:
Give off a sense of urgency to your employees: Don’t throw them in a panic, but be sure that they are always “on” when dealing with a customer. When procedures and techniques are always pushed, employees turn into compliant, predictable people who can’t think on their feet. Make sure everyone knows the policies and procedures, but let them know that each situation is different and that you trust them to make their best judgment. Trusted employees are happy employees, and happy employees will help you create the brand you want.
Let employees shape customer experiences: If your employees know that they represent you, your company and your brand, and that they have power to control how customers experience your brand, they’ll take note and will be more likely to try their best. Let the employees find their own way of presenting your brand (in a way that is positive to your brand, of course) and encourage them in shaping the experience for your brand differently for each customer.
Foster creative problem-solving in your employees: It’s your job to give your employees the tools they need to do their job – the wages, policies, mission and brand among other things. What you don’t need to give them is an answer for every type of situation they’ll encounter with a customer. Yes, you can give examples, but if you don’t let them try to figure it out on their own, you’ll have employees running to you every time they have a question.
When an employee figures something out on his own, share that success with the rest of the employees to encourage that kind of independent thinking. Reinforce how that one employee kept the brand in mind while coming up with a solution. For instance, if a customer asked an employee when the next shipment of a certain item is coming in, instead of just saying “I don’t know” or asking you, the employee consulted the shipping calendar. Then the employee took the name and number of the customer so that an item could be reserved for her.
You could have lost a customer, but because your employee showed initiative and showed the customer how important her business was (important to any brand), you’ve kept that customer and probably got some more through her word-of-mouth marketing to her friends and family.
Be sure to give the employee accolades as appropriate, so that he and other employees will know it’s okay to go their own way when appropriate and that they will be rewarded if so.