In most organizations, your front-line team is your biggest asset for promoting your brand. Why? They are the ones who interface directly with your customers. The challenge is harnessing the talent and interactions of junior staff, volunteers and other front-line engagement to be a messenger for your brand.
Your brand isn’t just your logo and images. That’s just a piece of your brand, especially as your design elements evolve over time.
Your brand is the aggregate of every interaction people have with your organization.
Let’s look at the picture. This barista is enthusiastic about his job. He’s engaging with the customer in a genuine conversation and excited to be there. While every employee may not have time to engage with every customer so intimately, this attitude goes a long way in representing your brand and your values.
Customer Service Industries
Retail, hospitality, food service and other customer-facing industries have direct interaction with the public on a regular basis. Every time someone walks into your business, you have the opportunity to make an impression.
Sloppy sales clerk
Tired, overworked, frustrated cashier
These all tell customers your business is either over-extended or apathetic to their needs. How does that translate to customer service?
Non-profits, especially small, community-centric non-profits have the benefit and challenge of working with volunteers who represent the organization. Sometimes even more so than paid staff.
Harnessing this Potential
1) Train all personnel on your main messages.
From the CEO to the frontline cashier to the person answering the phone to the volunteer handing out donations, everyone should go through at least basic training on your main messages.
Yes, that means you need to write your main messages in a formal document. They should include:
· Who you are
· What you do
· What you want people to do (call to action)
Everyone on your team should be familiar with your main messages. Please don’t ask them to recite your messages in an awkward, uncomfortable way every time they greet someone. Instead, they should work them into conversation on a regular basis.
Your team at every level should be able to genuinely articulate the things that set your organization apart.
2) Train All Team Members on Your Values
Let’s pause for a moment to think about the values you want your front-line staff to represent. Do you want them to be friendly and courteous? Helpful? Inclusive and accommodating?
You can (and should!) look for these character traits during hiring, but staff also need to hear them emphasized by leadership at every level. These should be reinforced often and modeled by leadership on a daily basis. And it must be genuine – if leadership does not truly buy into the values, staff and customers will know and not accept these as anything more than lipservice.
3) Keep Front-Line Staff Up to Date on Key Policies, Current Promotions and Messaging
Your messages, policies and promotions will shift on a regular basis. It’s essential to keep frontline staff informed on current issues and the organization’s message so they can present a united front on behalf of the organization. It’s like the old saying on singing from the same sheet of music – if one person is off promoting a different policy or message, it impacts the entire program.
Your team already works hard for you in your everyday operation. Empowering them with your messaging will help ensure everyone who interacts with your organization knows who you are and what you stand for.
By Sarah Greer Bartnick, SGB Strategies