Monday, April 26, 2010

Who brings your brand promise to life?

By Marc Sokol

Readers of our last post resonated to the importance of aligning the brand message marketing sends out to customers and prospects with the behavior that is displayed by customer service. If these two aren’t aligned you are just wasting your time and money.

Elsewhere you can see marketing described as the metaphorical lighthouse, beaming your brand message to the ships (potential customers) out at sea. Customer service, in turn, is the port, ready to greet those ships when they like what they see and guide them to shore by the lighthouse.

When we have alignment, life is good! When we don’t, fingers go pointing. It’s easy to see how the lighthouse might claim the port is shabby, or how the port might claim the lighthouse is casting the wrong message. Sometimes what they both really need is to look for support from managers who can bridge the two groups.

Here’s one story: Years back I managed the Washington, DC office of a consulting firm. When we moved buildings I had the opportunity to make some decisions where staff would sit in the new location. In most consulting firms it’s the senior consultants who get first choice (and all) of the high-priced real estate, the rooms with ‘a view’. One of my first choices was to assign Sondra, our customer service manager, to an office that had a nice window overlooking the Potomac River (instead of an interior office with no view). She loved that view! Surprised (shocked actually) at what seemed to be an overly kind gesture, Sondra asked me why. My answer…

“Sondra, you are the first point of contact when someone calls our office. You are the one here every day, while others are often out of the office. That view out the window makes you smile, and when a client calls I want them to be able to feel that smile of yours!”

Sondra never let me down, just as she never let down our customers. I wasn’t being nice; I was just making sure we matched our brand promise with our customers’ experience of that brand promise.

That’s my story. What’s yours?
When and how did someone you worked for take your firm’s brand promise to heart?
How has your company made an effort to increase alignment between marketing and customer service groups?

Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part of M Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy.
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