By Stacy Colonna – Vice President of Operations
Following up on Chris’s stream of consciousness regarding “what a brand is” – one of the most fundamental tenants of a brand is that its platform MUST ring true. We are consistently engaged to help our clients climb out of the picture frame and take a look at what we see. One of the ways we promote this process is to conduct both internal and external interviews during our Discover Phase, the first step of our engagement with a B2B or B2C brand. We like to hear what internal constituencies have to say about our clients as well as what their clients (current and lost) have to say about who they are.
Through the lens of Operations, which I consider to be the heart if not the soul of most organizations, we need to understand how we create an environment that rings true and resonates with the brand’s identity.
How are you answering your main line? – or should I ask: is a human answering it? When you greet your clients, you are making a first impression. Deciding to have a human answer the phone and greet each call with the respect and time necessary to ensure the caller goes to the right place is simple table stakes – but how often has this been missed? Clearly there is a time and a place for automated services – but probably not when someone is calling your headquarters.
How you are answering also has to do with how your employee feels – and how your employee feels will have a great deal to do with whether you brand is perceived well or not:
- Are they engaged?
- Do they have the right tools to do their job?
- Is their computer functioning properly?
- Do they have the latest technology to function at optimum levels?
- Are they connected to their team with the best tools that suit their needs? (i.e. Skype, basecamp, intranet, IM, etc.)
- Is their chair comfortable for them?
- How hard is it to get the things done (i.e. get supplies, get paid, suggest new process)?
- How are you treating your employees? Do they enjoy their workplace?
- When was the last time they laughed or shared a good story? Joy is key.
Clearly, there are many facets of employee happiness and employee engagement, but the bottom line is that if Operations is doing its job, the workplace will be truly happy and productive. How you treat your employees will be extended tenfold when they talk to your customers, partners and each other.
Employee engagement, satisfaction, and how they deal with your clients folds into your brand’s ability to ring true within the context of the world. You will be much more confident in what your brand stands for and should anything run amiss, you can count on your clients and partners to support you in your time of need. As an example, I can’t help but think of the difference in perception that occurred last year between Netflix and Zappos. While not quite analogous situations, both brands suffered blows in the marketplace, one due to a change in pricing strategy and the other to a leak of confidential customer information. Because Netflix did not understand that people really liked their brand and wanted to be aligned with them (along with the price change) – this has stripped them of all the goodwill their customers had –their financial numbers took a huge tumble. Conversely, Zappos has had such an enormous and genuine focus on customers and handled their incident with the same care and empathy they espoused all along. And therefore, there was no huge trap door for them to fall into.
So focus on good operations because it is the essence of a good brand!
Stacy Colonna is the Vice President of Operations at The Delve Group. She oversees finances, resourcing, staffing, production, and development of processes and procedures to keep Delve and client processes running smoothly.