Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tips for #EmployerBranding

On June 29, 2016, I was honored to be the featured guest of Digital Branding Institute's TweetChat or #DBIchat. The chat topic was, "Who Would Be Excited to Work for You? How to Brand Yourself As an Employer." The hour-long chat took place on Twitter, and some customer service and marketing experts chimed in. My special thanks to Shep Hyken, Elaine Fogel, and Ron Thomas.

Here were the eight questions asked during the chat:

Q1: What is employer branding?

Q2: Why should employers care about employer branding?

Q3: What is onboarding?

Q4: What part does onboarding play in employer branding?

Q5: What is a brand ambassador?

Q6: How can a leader inspire his/her employees to become brand ambassadors?

Q7: Is employee engagement just a term or can businesses really create it?

Q8: What are some employer brands that stand out for their cultures?

Big thanks to Juntae DeLane for the invitation to lead the chat. If you missed the chat, check out the full recap below via Storify.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Five Brand Tips for Second Half of 2016

With 2016 nearing the halfway point, it’s time to review your brand strategies and see how effective your overall marketing initiatives have been. But wait. Before you review the email marketing metrics, website traffic metrics, and other key performance indicators, you can learn a lot about your overall marketing impact by reviewing your brand equity. According to Wikipedia, “Brand equity refers to the marketing effects or outcomes that accrue to a product with its brand name compared with those that would accrue if the same product did not have the brand name. “ So if you don’t like what you see, consider implementing these five brand tips for the remainder of 2016.

Build a more engaging Instagram presence and profile. While social media and social networking platforms come and go, Instagram has solidified its popularity with more than 300 million users. Since Facebook purchased it back in 2012, Instagram has become “the home for visual storytelling for everyone from celebrities, newsrooms and brands, to teens, musicians, and anyone with a creative passion.” So, does your brand have an Instagram profile? Some brands that effectively use the site to tell their stories include Tiffany & Co., Sherwin-Williams, M&Ms, Oreo, and the San Diego Zoo.

Build a top-notch mobile experience for your brand. Since most interactions between your brand and prospective customers result by a visit to your website, without a doubt, you want an amazing state-of-the-art website. But upon further thought, many people access the web from their smartphones and mobile devices – on a staggering rate. So that amazing website just might not be amazing on a small screen. Therefore, it’s critical that your site be responsive so that the important information can be seen, read, and acted upon. According to Wikipedia, “Responsive web design is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience, easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling, across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.”

Conduct a brand audit. If you haven’t conducted a comprehensive brand audit in the past two years, it’s long overdue. This means everything that reflects your brand – all printed collateral, signage, main website and sub-sites, all social platforms, logo, tagline, color palette, press releases, corporate communications, overall brand voice – must be reviewed for consistency and relevancy. If they don
’t align, you have work to do.

SHARE ON TWITTER: If everything that reflects your brand doesn’t align, you have work to do. ~@DebbieLaskeyMBA

Review and update your brand promise. Is it still relevant? Is it still supported by customers? In addition, is your brand story easy to understand? Is it easy to tell? Edit, tweak, and edit again. Make sure everything is up-to-date, relevant, and easy to understand and share.

Engage your employees so that they are enthusiastic about their most important job: being ambassadors for your brand. When employees are happy, customers feel the excitement and want to be part of the brand experience. Educate employees, inform employees, and reward employees. All employees are brand advocates whether they think they are or not.

And one final reminder as you look toward the second half of 2016, to quote Michael Eisner, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, “A brand is a living entity – and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” Don’t mess up your thousand small gestures!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Customer Service Is Not Something to Drive Around

Many business experts have stated time and again in the mainstream press that the way to stand out from the competition is to offer exceptional customer service. This is not rocket science, and those in the customer experience sector have been singing this song for years. But the reality is, most companies ignore this recommendation, and instead, listen to a crazy song where the lyrics are “Ignore the customer, treat the customer poorly, and don’t give a hoot about repeat customers.” 

Why does this reality exist when it’s so easy to train employees to provide a positive and memorable customer experience?

Last year, I received an email from an automotive company seeking my business. At the time, I was not in the market for a new car, but since I attend the Los Angeles Auto Show on an annual basis and have visited a number of car museums in the United States and Germany, I’m always eager to test-drive new vehicles – especially those with a lot of horsepower! The email promotion advertised “Date Night” with a vehicle of my choosing. Here’s what the email said:

Dear Debbie,
On behalf of the Lincoln Motor Company, I would like to offer you an
opportunity to experience Lincoln through an exclusive, test-drive program,
Lincoln Date Night. Whether you’re looking for a stylish sedan or full-size
luxury SUV, this is the best way to get better acquainted with our exciting
2015 lineup. No strings, no obligation. The details are simple. Start by
choosing a vehicle from our 2015 lineup. On your scheduled Date Night,
drive away and enjoy the vehicle for a full 24 hours. Email or call to set
up your Date Night.

You may be thinking, what a great promotion. Who wouldn’t want to participate? I contacted Lincoln and after several back and forth emails, I learned that no vehicle was available in my area for any weekend. Naturally, I wanted my 24-hours to take place during a weekend, or I wouldn’t get much time to drive the vehicle. Alas, my Date Night with Lincoln never happened, but I hoped I would get another chance.

Fast forward a year. Last month, I received an email from Lincoln that referenced the 2016 lineup. After I responded to the email, I was told that there were no available SUV’s to test-drive and no dealerships within a 50-mile radius of my home that were participating in this campaign. To make matters worse, I could only get a car during the week. So, to recap, I was disappointed that I had not participated last year and then learned that I would have to drive 50 miles away from my home DURING THE WEEK to drive a car that I had no interest in purchasing. Some date night!

Let’s return to the concept of providing a positive customer experience presented at the beginning of this post. I was already a prospective customer with an interest in this event, since I indicated in my email last month that I had been disappointed in not being able to participate last year. So, it would have made sense for the Lincoln rep to have tried to accommodate my preferences – in any way possible!

According to Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director of Disney Institute in Florida, “The words ‘'I’ll need to speak with my manager’ probably sound familiar to most of us, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with involving one’s manager in helping to make decisions. However, when a service failure occurs, it’s essential to resolve the issue quickly. With tens of thousands of visitors each day to Walt Disney Parks and Resorts around the world, we recognize that issues will occasionally come up. Therefore, it’s essential that employees are equipped with the tools to enable them to quickly resolve as many issues as possible on their own. At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, customers discover that everyone is the right person when it comes to providing speedy service recovery.” Clearly, no one who interacted with me at Lincoln spoke with a supervisor – to find me an SUV in my local area – not was anyone equipped with the tools to resolve this epic service fail.

According to Annette Franz, a fellow customer experience consultant, Annette Franz (@annettefranz and @cxjourney on Twitter), “Achieving customer delight is paramount to the success of a business. Customer satisfaction is no longer enough – at least for businesses that want to thrive instead of just survive. But creating a delightful customer experience can be difficult, especially if you’re focusing solely on the customer.”

In addition, Annette writes about customer journey maps, a framework that allows you to walk in your customers’ shoes by traveling with them as they interact with your business. Customer journey maps enable you to improve your customer experience by helping to best understand how customers are interacting with you now and what areas to invest in moving forward.

Annette recommends that customer journey maps should be used to:
•    Understand the customer and his/her interactions with your business.
•    Build empathy for the customer and what he’s/she’s going through during all interactions with your business.
•    Provide a clear line of sight for employees to the target: customers.
•    Train and coach employees about the customer experience.
•    Speak a universal language (customer).

When asked about my recent “Date Night” experience and the fact that it didn’t happen for the second year in a row, Annette said, “The experience for prospective customers is as critical, if not more so, than that of customers. Ultimately, if you can’t hit a home run while you’re courting potential customers, then you won’t have any customers to have a relationship with going forward. You need to ensure that you deliver a great experience at all stages of the customer lifecycle.”

So, with all this knowledge about customer experience marketing and customer journey maps, why did Lincoln do such an incredible job with its Date Night PROMOTION but such a lousy job with the EXECUTION of its campaign? Tune in next year to see what happens.

Image Credit: Digitalart via