Employees: The Missing Link for a Robust Corporate Brand

by Cheryl Carr on March 20, 2012

Before I became a public relations practitioner in the “agency” world, I worked for a Fortune 500 company as an employee communications specialist.

Fast forward a few decades (just a few) and I’ve observed that employee communications essentials remain the same even though the channels companies use to deliver news internally are vastly different. Intranets, Facebook, blogs, email and even Twitter have made employee communications so much more fluid and dynamic. CEOs have embraced the roles of Chief Information Officer and Chief Marketing Officer and now see themselves as an integral part of the corporate brand. Employee communications is recognized by C-suites everywhere as an important piece of the corporate fabric.

Gone are the days of the paternalistic organization, where the only voice heard was that of the CEO. Internal communications has really become a two-way street, thanks to technology and our cultural demands for openness and transparency.

Yet employees are still vastly under-utilized as valuable communications resources. The notion of empowering employees as proactive communicators in the organization – otherwise known as an engaged workforce – has been somewhat slow to develop. A substantial body of knowledge has been built in recent years regarding how an engaged workforce can positively affect your company from the inside out, especially in regard to enhancing customer experience.

We’ve come to expect a great customer experience from every company these days but all too often most interactions fall way short. That’s because employees don’t receive enough training in the finer points of communication or managing the customer experience. Many executives haven’t quite connected the dots between communication and desired customer behaviors. So here are a few tips to consider if you’re thinking about new ways to engage employees in not just creating good customers, but customers who are absolutely delighted with your organization:

  1. Empower employees or a team of employees to lead an improved customer experience program.
  2. Involve employees intimately in customer feedback functions and customer surveys. Allow them to create strategies and actions that can respond to complaints or less than delightful customer experiences.
  3. Broadcast your great customer stories: Make employee excellence in customer communications felt in every nook and cranny of your organization.
  4. Encourage your employees to dig deep in delivering the “promise” of your organization. In order to deliver the promise, they need to hone their communications skills and make customer experience much more than transactional.
  5. Look to your internal communications staff and outside communications consultants for their input. Because they are trained in public relations, which is defined as the art of changing or modifying behaviors, your behavioral experts may be down the hall or just a phone call away.

I actually had a rare but wonderful customer experience recently. Can someone say that about your company?