January 23, 2023

Does Employee Interaction Help Or Hurt Your Brand? (3 Examples Of Negative Experiences)

It’s no secret that people who have positive, consistent brand experiences with your company also have a positive impact on your business. The ways people interact with your brand impact their trust, loyalty and advocacy for your company -- and this drives growth.

Companies usually pay attention to brand experience factors like product quality, website usability, social media and basic customer support. Too often they skip another critical factor: employee interaction. This can be a costly mistake. As the collective “face” of your business, employees directly shape brand experiences with prospects, customers and key business contacts. When these parties have a negative experience with someone on your team, how they’re left feeling can impact closing a deal, retaining a client or getting a referral for new business.

Here’s the thing: all of this can be avoided! Often knowing that there’s even a problem is half the battle. Leaders juggle many things and are often unaware that small things employees do can result in lost revenue. It's critical to look closely at employee behaviors to make sure they represent your brand optimally in everything they do.

Do any of these stories sound familiar?

1. Lost Trust = Lost Opportunities

The CFO of a property & casualty insurance company reached out to a partner at an accounting firm (whom he knew well) to address a timely, complex issue that was beyond the company’s financial expertise. After several meetings, the accounting partner sent the CFO a statement of work. Despite their established relationship, the CFO didn’t respond to the partner’s multiple follow-ups. After several weeks, the CFO finally replied that all looked great and that he’d be in touch the following week to move forward. After another week of radio silence, the accounting partner had to reach out again. Eventually the CFO replied that they resolved the issue another way.

A month later, a client of the accounting partner was looking for a new property & casualty firm and asked if the partner knew any good vendors. He paused, then said he didn’t have anyone he trusted to recommend. Despite their prior relationship, the insurance CFO’s repeated nonresponse created a negative brand experience for the accounting partner, which ultimately broke his trust and cost the referral.

Trust is the foundation of relationships. Off-putting and unreliable behavior (like repeated nonresponse to outreach) breaks trust and can turn brand advocates into agnostics.

If nonresponse is a common behavior at your company, address it now before it erodes any more business. Nonresponse is annoying and can make people feel disrespected – neither of which are good brand experiences. Everyone is busy, so that’s not an excuse! Remember too, senior leaders set the tone, so if they’re guilty of nonresponse, other employees likely are too. Email and time management training can immediately improve your team’s ability to build and maintain relationships.

2. Breaking Promises Won’t Buy Loyalty

An IT security firm wanted a new booth for an important tradeshow they attend annually. They hired a production company that was highly recommended for its creativity and overall service. The design, production and delivery phases of the project all had very tight deadlines, which the company promised it could meet, but kept missing (with different excuses each time). The IT firm worried throughout if the kit would be ready in time for the tradeshow.

While ultimately all was delivered and looked great, it came at a price. The frustrating and stressful experience led the IT firm to cancel additional projects originally lined up for the production company. The production company’s repeated failure to miss promised deadlines cost them the IT firm’s loyalty.

This is not uncommon. According to a global study by Qualtrics, “65% of consumers have switched brand loyalties because their negative experience didn’t match what they had been promised by the brand’s image." When customer expectations don’t align with reality due to repeated missteps by your team, you risk losing the customer to competitors.

Ensure your team truly understands the long-term impact if they don’t consistently follow-through and deliver on promises. It can be helpful to provide training on how to communicate effectively with customers in uncertain or evolving situations. This way, when unavoidable delays (or mistakes) happen, they can maintain a positive experience for the customer and preserve their desire to work with you again.

3. Behavior Conflicting With Brand Values Loses Advocacy

At an informal lunch of several small business owners, one person was considering a change in bankers and asked for recommendations. Several people said to avoid ABC Bank (not its real name), mentioning experiences where they felt ignored and dismissed by relationship managers who would forget to return calls, reply to emails or reach out with important service updates. The consensus among the group was that while the bank says they focus on small businesses, their actions show that they don’t really pay attention to you unless you are much larger. The consistent, negative experiences of these business owners led them to not only switch banks, but importantly in this case, recommend against using this bank.

Chances are, this was not an isolated conversation for the dissatisfied business owners either. Research from American Express indicates that consumers will tell an average of 15 people about a negative experience with customer service. So, if 10 people felt mistreated by the relationship managers at ABC Bank, their takeaway could turn into 150 others who now know about it, many of whom might otherwise have been bank prospects.

Make sure employees -- especially those in customer-facing roles -- are trained on the importance of communicating with all customers, not just the largest ones. They may not realize that their lack of interest, timeliness and prioritization can leave customers feeling like you don’t care about them or that they’re not as important as others -- and ultimately lead them to advocate against your business, not for it.

Your People Are Your Brand

In-person, on-screen and by phone and email, employees are your brand. The experiences people have interacting with your team will either drive or lose business. Ensure your team creates positive, consistent experiences every day, in everything they do -- starting today.

If you know employee behaviors have led to lost business, but don’t quite know what or how to turn it around, we’re here to help. Contact Point Road Group today.

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