When brand values are not enough
All companies have brand values, a mission statement and a corporate vision but, how many of these organisations actually invest in teaching their staff what these sometimes vague words and sentences actually mean to them? Those who do are successful, those who don’t, languish in mediocrity. What follows is a story of two businesses, both customer facing, whose approach to creating a meaningful customer experience could not be more different, and guess what, their commercial performance is reflected in this.
Today I am writing from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia a place that some call the next frontier in the Middle East, a place where, every other business has an expensive management consultant working on a transformation program - organising systems and processes so businesses perform better. Now I am not against this, I simply ask the question ‘how do these efforts transform your staff and customer experience?’
I met with a good friend of mine today in Riyadh, his name is Mohamad. It would be fair to describe him as a maverick - I hope he doesn’t mind that reference. A man with a passion who takes his responsibility - to deliver a great brand experience for his customers - very, very seriously. My friend proudly told me that his business had seen a leap in their brand value of over 31% - to £$300m over the past 12 months.
Now this business is not the biggest in the Kingdom - it could be considered as one of the pirañas I referred to in my last article (It's not your size, it's what you do that counts), - but boy they making their mark and they are chewing up the big boys. Visit one of Mohamad’s branches and you are greeted by a smiling face, a beautiful environment, a helping hand and a human touch.
My friend told me the story of a man who had visited one of his branches, this chap had then gone to another bank where he had experienced a big probem. He needed help to resolve his situation so went back to see Mohamad's team. Rather than shrug their shoulders and say ‘this is not our problem, you’re not our customer’, Mohamed’s staff took responsibility for the situation and resolved it, calling the other bank and ensuring there was someone available to help the stricken traveller.
The organisation Mohamed works for has the following values:
• Striving to Lead
• Taking Initiative
• Community Service
• Respect for All
• Interrelationship among Colleagues
• Customer Service
... And the beautiful thing is, every employee in the organisation is taught to use these values as a measure of their behaviour and performance in every aspect of their work... a filter if you like. They are shown that in order for organisation to succeed, they must make these values a part of their everyday life... their behaviour is not dictated, it comes from within and therefore it is a natural progression to see brand related KPI’s for every member of staff and for every engaged member of staff to succeed.
Now, lets look at another organisation who are currently using computer software to train their staff - no human contact at all, where brand values are vague, easily misinterpreted and where the is no effort made to teach staff what each statement means to them, specifically. Go into one of this organisations branches and you are met by a poorly dressed security guard who is does not care either way about service. There is no warm welcome, no helping hand and no warmth. In fact, the experience is quite the opposite. If, and I emphasis IF, you can drag the security guard away from WhatsApp, his cigarette or video game, he will wave vaguely in the direction of a person who may, if they are not busy attending to their own needs, offer very basic assistance. This organisations brand value in dollar terms in nose diving and customers are leaving in droves.
Now I am sure all of us who live in the Middle East have experienced the second scenario, yet there is absolutely no excuse for it. Every organisation should have a Mohamad, a man who makes it his mission to strive to lead by example. A maverick who is focussed on empowering every employee to create a beautiful compelling relationship with each and every individual - not just customers. It makes sense commercially, it makes sense reputationally and it makes sense culturally. So come on big business, start to think about translating your brand values into action on the ground.
Finally, unknown to the employees at Mohamad’s organisation, the stricken traveller who they helped was a lead journalist at a major global magazine... and guess what he did when he had an opportunity, he told the world about his experience at the bank... and now, so have I.
Brand experience counts - make it count for your business.