Your employees are customer or client contact points in your marketing and sales efforts. Watch out if your firm’s employees are not helpful and informed. We’ve all been caught in the circle of automated telephone options, only to end up with a telephone receptionist who eludes responsibility or doesn’t know where to refer you. I routinely encounter receptionists who have no idea what the company that he/she is employed by does – certainly not a sign that inspires confidence.
Your customers and prospects find it frustrating to make calls that to lead delays because some of your employees have no conception of how to answer the phone or to serve as an important component of your marketing team. Conversely, it is gratifying when an employee takes the time to find the person for you or takes an extensive message, even if that is not part of his/her job.
The person-to-person contact between employees and customer may outweigh the best advertising, news releases, and promotional campaign to build an organization.
Marketing on the Job
What are steps you can take to ensure that your staff is helping the marketing effort? First, make your best-informed and most personable employees the most accessible to prospective clients or customers. Too often, the newest and/or the least informed person given the job of handling telephone calls.
Next, recognize that it’s important for you and your managers to set an example. If you are impatient, resentful, or disinterested in the questions or suggestions of your staff, then the staff is more likely to treat others in the same manner.
Keep your employees informed. Have they been given a list of departments and do they know what responsibilities are handled by each department? Are they aware of typical questions asked by prospective clients and the answers to those questions?
Employee morale on the front lines makes a strong impact on public perceptions. Front line employees often take the blame for a poor organization and thus rudeness and poor morale is not always an employee problem. Yet, employees want to be praised and commended for their efforts. Acknowledge each employee’s importance to the company and the value of his/her contributions.
In the hotel industry, for example, front desk personnel are generally paid less than back office personnel, but are more responsible for the perception of service. They set the image and the mood. The finest room and most delectable food won’t bring a customer back if he has been treated rudely or thinks he/she didn’t get proper service.
The Marriott chain monitors service through the thousands of guest comment cards received each day. The cards enable the chain to track trends and watch for any deviations. Slow service in a restaurant might not be the waiter’s fault although that is the immediate assumption and the focus of customer complaints. Marriott tracks the difficulties back to the source – which could be the cooks, or maybe even the equipment – and fixes the basic problem.