Have you ever been asked where you work? This happens all the time when we meet someone new. When people hear where you work, what do they tell you? Is it how much they love your product or service, or is it how frustrated they get when using that product or service?
In the same way, your employees are likely often asked where they work. And while they are likely hearing both good and bad stories, they themselves have good and bad impressions to share.
How can you assure that they'll have many more good than bad stories to share with your prospective customers? You can if you focus on helping them become your brand ambassadors. The Edelman Trust Barometer 2015 confirms that “friends and family” are society's most trusted source of information, followed by the employees of companies. The two groups are both more trusted than the CEOs of those companies. So the lesson is, harness that key resource, your own brand ambassadors, to build trust with customers and prospective customers. Here are four ways to do that.
1. Share your vision with them.
Let employees know our plans for your company and your products and services. Keep them informed of your values and goals so that they can be your advocate. Two Men and a Truck is a company that makes it a point to instill its core values so that employees can live them out in their daily lives and at work. Two of my favorite such core values are: The Grandma Rule and Give Back to the Community. Two Men and a Truck features its employees living out their core values on its blog, and the employees share those values with customers, neighbors and friends.
2. Keep them in the loop.
Don’t keep secrets from your employees -- tell them everything you know that they need to know to help you run your business. Even though it’s a privately held company, Rhino Foods regularly shares its financial information with employees so that they can help keep the business profitable. Employees know that they have the ability to impact the bottom line of the company, which also impacts their paychecks. This helps everyone in the long run.
3. Involve them in the launch of new products.
When Lenovo introduced its new Yoga tablet in fall 2013, the company's internal communications team decided to engage employees in the introduction of this new product launch; the decision was announced on the company intranet, Lenovo Central. Employees could win a Yoga tablet by posting their own yoga poses there. The poses with the most “likes” also won their practitioners a new tablet. This was a great example of engaging employees in a new product and brand early, then rewarding them with that product so they become brand ambassadors once the product hits the market.
4. Reward them for building relationships with customers.
Instead of providing commissions for employees to sell something a customer may not need, why not encourage the building of a relationship with that customer, accompanied by rewards for creating and maintaining customer loyalty?
I have not yet heard of a company that rewards employees for truly building and maintaining customer relationships. So, if you have, please share that information in the comment section below. But I believe such a move could become a powerful vehicle for employees to understand and harness their "inner brand ambassador" if they understand and are rewarded for such relationship-building with customers.