Good Will

Diplomatic Advantages

While volumes have been written on the value of customer service as a marketing strategy, articles on the importance of employees as company ambassadors are scarce. Yet who tells your company story better than your employees? Who lives your company philosophy more constantly than your employees? And who is out there promoting and pitching your products and services more frequently than your employees?

Ambassadors play a vital role in representing one country to another when the president, premier, prime minister or monarch can't be there in person. In many ways, your employees should be considered high-ranking diplomats representing your company. They should be able to act on your behalf and bridge the physical gap between you and your clients or customers. They can display the same diplomacy you would when a disagreement surfaces and can act as gracious hosts when greeting your clients, just as you would if you were there. After all, what good is it to reach out to prospects and entice them into your store or office if, after they arrive, they aren't treated like royalty?

Giving employees some flexibility in handling problems that arise on the job benefits your business in several ways. Research has shown that employees who have this kind of freedom begin to think more strategically about their work and about your business. They endear themselves to your customers because they act as customer advocates. They go beyond satisfying needs to exceed expectations. And because they are thoroughly familiar with your company's product or service, the company philosophy, the state of the industry, and the ins and outs of good business practices, such employees can "sell" your business again and again, giving you a competitive advantage.

Many surveys have found the main reason people stop doing business with a company is because they were treated with indifference. Perhaps you, personally, don't treat your customers with indifference, but have you made it clear to your employees how important personal service is to everyone's future?

If not, don't blame your staff for not being good company ambassadors. They need to know what is expected of them, how much personal discretion they can use, and what the rewards might be.

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This article was originally published in the February 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Good Will.

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