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Drive Adoption and Engagement with Employee Advocacy

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Oct, 03, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

employee advocates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Susan Emerick (@sfemerick), CEO and founder of Brands Rising, Lori Grey (@lsgrey) of Deloitte and Alex Cramer (@cramer1000) of Dynamic Signal for an informative presentation on empowering and engaging employees to help drive customer adoption and engagement.

 

I've written before about how loyal employees = loyal customers.

 

More and more brands are empowering their employees to support the goals of the brand by using content and employee-owned social media expertise and contacts.

 

When you consider the number of social media contacts and followers your brand has versus that of all of your employees, you have a tremendous opportunity to increase the reach of your message by asking your employees to share your messages and information of value with their social networks as well as your customers and prospects.

 

Besides, employees generate more trust than companies:

  • 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know while only 15% trust recommendations from brands (Gartner).

  • 70% of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with people (Market Leader).

  • Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7X more than other leads (IBM).

  • People like to do business with those they know, like and trust. Employees humanize your brand. 

 

There are several steps to building an employee advocacy program:

  1. Determine the "best fit" candidates.

  2. Provide training, remove doubt.

  3. Personalize. 
     
  4. Reward and recognize.

Determining "best fit" candidates depends on the vision, mission and values of your organization and finding the people who are already in alignment and equipped to share their knowledge and expertise.
Characteristics of "best fit" candidates are:
  1. Already have a strong social media footprint.

  2. Comfortable collaborating online.

  3. Find value in creating and nurturing relationships via social media.

  4. Demonstrate a long-term commitment to sustained engagement.

  5. Open to coaching, guidance and learning from data. 

 

There are several steps you can take to provide training and remove doubt given that people and companies have concerns about employees posting on social media on behalf of the company:

  1. Provide education and training on social media best practices, as well as any restrictions the company may have based on industry requirements.

  2. Have peer mentoring or teammates you can bounce questions off of.

  3. Provide an online source of content that's preapproved -- prewritten, preapproved share text that employees can customize. This ensures consistent messaging and eliminates the need for employees to develop information of value from scratch.

 

Personalize the content you are asking your employees to share:

  1. Employees will be much more comfortable with, and likely to share, content that's relevant to them personally and professionally. They'll also be more comfortable personalizing for the channel or the audience.

  2. Use sign-up forms to create groups to know which topics or industries interest which people.

  3. Use groups to tag and distribute content.  

 

Reward and recognize those employees that are helping spread the company message via social media:

  1. Professional recognition is having contributors recognized by their peers and executive management about what they are doing, as well as their accomplishments.

  2. External recognition is showcasing individuals as industry thought-leaders giving them an opportunity to represent, or speak on behalf of, the company at industry functions. 

 

Do you have an employee advocacy program in place?

 

How are your employees' activities benefitting the company?

 

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Tags: transparency, empower employees, connecting emotionally with customers, customer engagement, employee engagement, loyal employees

Empower Your Employees to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Mar, 06, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

empower employees to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice ebook from Dynamic Signal "An Introduction to Employee Advocacy" which affirms what I have shared in several posts -- empower your employees and they will help you build your business.

 

Empower and encourage all of your employees to send out positive messages and attract new customers, generate referrals, recruit great hires and tell a consistent story about the brand.

 

If your don't trust your employees to do this, how are you failing to earn their trust? Employees will only treat your customers and well as you treat your employees.

 

Channel the passion and knowledge of your employees so they reach out to their social networks and amplify your brand. Ensure your employees are engaged and are fully aware of your vision, mission, values and strategic position.

 

Doing so will drive leads, revenue and profit and further engage your employees.

 

According to Edelman's 2013 Trust Barometer, "41% of people believe a company's employees rank higher in public trust than a firm's P.R. department, CEO or founder."

 

When you empower your employees, your employees trust you and their social networks trust them. Their family, friends and colleagues see them enjoying their jobs, in person and online, and start to think more highly of the company.

 

For every 1,000 employees, companies can gain more than $1 million in earned media, save $500,000 in recruiting expense and geenerate millions in incremental sales.

 

According to Gallup, "companies with engaged employees outperform those without engaged employees by up to 202%."

 

Have a social media policy that's accessible and understandable. Explicitly tell people what you want them to share like a press release or video.

 

According to McKinsey, "when marketers empower their employees, they stand a much better chance of reaching customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right message."

 

According to Social Media and Sales Quota Report, "78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers." 

 

Reviews, recommendations, case studies, purchase history, coupon redemption and ecommerce will all provide feedback on whether or not your employee empowerment initiatives are working.

 

Employees are your best sales channel, your best advocates and the greatest promoters of your brand.

 

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book

Tags: empower employees, alignment, one voice, referrals, promoters, emotional connection, loyal employees

8 Steps to Cultivate Satisfied Customers for Life

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jan, 24, 2014 @ 10:01 AM


Thanks to a HubSpot (#hubspotting)cultivate customers for life webinar on "Cultivating Happy Customers" for the following thought starter.

It's everyone's job to delight customers.

If that's not understood by everyone in your company, you can rest assured that your most important customer will have the opportunity to deal with the person that doesn't understand it (Murphy's Law).

Loyal customers are worth 10 times more than their initial purchase.

In the case of Chipotle, I'm now worth at least 3,000 times more than my initial purchase based on the number of times I've eaten there over the past seven years and the number of people I've introduced to the brand.

Forty-eight percent of customers who have had a bad experience will tell 10 or more people about it. If they're active on social media, think of how many people follow them on Twitter, Facebook, et.al. It'll be a lot more than 10 people.

Customer perception of your company is formed by every interaction with your company -- every person they speak with in person and on the phone, every advertisement they see or hear, every social media mention, everything.

You cannot provide awesome service if you don't know who your customers are, what they like, what they don't like, what they define as awesome service.

Most customers aren't loyal to a business, they're loyal to what a business stands for.

I'm loyal to Chipotle because they have food with integrity.

I'm loyal to Atlantic Avenue Tire because they're committed to keeping my vehicle running safely, at a fair price, for the life of the vehicle.

The three pillars of customer delight are: product, communication and education.

The 8 customer delight guidelines are:

  1. Delight employees to delight customers. Loyal employees = loyal customers. Employees will only treat customers as well as their manager treats them.
     
  2. Educate employees. Ensure everyone in your organization knows that the customer comes first and while the customer may not always be right, they are always the customer. Explain the value of having a "customers for life" philosophy. Recognize and reward employees that provide an outstanding customer experience.
     
  3. Empower employees. Do you trust your employees?  You should you hired them. Entrust them to engage customers in person, on the phone and via social media. The better the customer gets to know your employees the more likely they are to make an emotional connection to your brand. Your employees are your brand. Trust your employees to solve the customer's problem even if it costs a little more. Nordstrom has built a very successful, and profitable, brand with this philosophy.
     
  4. Listen to customers. Ensure you, and your employees, understand their needs and wants. Find out what you do well in their eyes and what you can do better. Thank them for their feedback. If they won't tell you something's not right, who will?
     
  5. Ask customers questions. Who, what, when, where and why? Ask follow-up questions. This will build a trusted relationship between you, your employees and your customers.
     
  6. Help customers. Educate them. Provide information of value. Anticipate their questions based on questions you've received from other customers. Expect nothing in return. You have to give to get.
     
  7. Follow-up with customers. I used to produce advertising for Wachovia Bank, before it was bought by First Union, when it was widely recognized for its outstanding customer service. Wachovia had the "sundown rule" whereby the banker was to call the customer by the end of the day with either an answer to their question or a status update on where they were in the process of answering the customer's question. This is one reason Wachovia scored so well in customer satisfaction surveys and why First Union bought them when the First Union brand was in the toilet.
     
  8. Take action. Measure and track everything. I highly recommend using Net Promoter Score to monitor customer satisfaction over time. It's a great tool to promote a dialog with customers. An eNPS (employee Net Promoter Score) survey is a great way for employees to be educated about the importance of customer satisfaction.
What steps are you, and your company, taking to have satisfied customers for life?
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Tags: customers for life, loyal customers, outstanding customer experience, customer satisfaction, net promoter score, loyal employees

Loyal Employees = Loyal Customers

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Jan, 13, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

loyal employees = loyal customers

 

 

 

 

 

 

There's a strong positive correlation between satisfied customers and satisfied employees.

It's easy to get so involved in the tactics, metrics and technology of loyalty programs that the most important part - the human aspect and their emotional connection to the brand - gets neglected.

The CRM technology involved is a marvelous tool - without it, loyalty programs would not be possible.

But we must remember that loyalty, and its opposite, the desire to simply walk away, are both intensely human emotions.

Unless the program generates an emotional connection with the brand, it won't work.

We must also remember that humans aren't as predictable as technology.

Actions that might make one person loyal could well turn off someone else.

It even more complicated -- something that engenders loyalty in someone on one day might do the opposite on another day.

Customers are human, and loyalty is a strong emotional link.

Who is more qualified than customers to tell us what customers want, and what they don't want? That's why it's critical to have an ongoing dialog with your customers.

One thing is certain, building loyalty will not get any easier with the advent of social media.

While advances in technology have made loyalty programs more effective, accurate and appealing to customers, these same advances have made it much easier for customers to switch suppliers.

Comparisons of stock, prices, trading policies, delivery times and costs are now only a click away from customers.

If the item is to be shipped to a customer, do they care from where it comes? No, just that it was delivered for no additional charge. Zappos has set a very high bar.

Many suppliers are equally trustworthy and reputable. Your firm must have some unique property that differentiates you from your competitors.

All other things being equal, a good loyalty program can do that.

A Loyal Employee is More Valuable Than a Loyal Customer

Employees are also human, and they bond emotionally with your customers.

The virtuous circle of "customer - employee - shareholder - customer" has become well-known in loyalty marketing.

These groups go together and if the loyalty or even cooperation of any of the groups is lost, the chain breaks.

To be completely successful, they must all work together, supporting each other, to build strong relationships.

According to Frederick Reichheld, the father of the Net Promoter Score (NPS), "the only way a company can build a loyal customer base is by building committed relationships with the employees responsible for serving those customers."

In fact, "loyalty leader" companies identified by Reichheld out-performed their competitors by a factor of 2.2 in the stock market.

Recent research shows top executives are not only realizing the value of employee loyalty, but actually doing something about it.

It would seem that while there is no shortage of businesses that pay lip service to employee loyalty - even featuring it prominently in their company policy - fewer actually have procedures in place that emanate through the business right down to the bottom and exert a real effect.

The days when management could expect undying loyalty simply because they have employed someone have gone forever.

Add to that the fact that in many cases, it's actually the employees near the bottom of the ladder - those who are often treated most poorly and are underpaid - that have most personal interaction with customers, and it becomes clear there is a problem.

Without loyalty to the business there won't be enthusiasm at the customer-facing level, and that's enough to nullify very expensive marketing programs that are intended to show customers how important they are.

In this time of cost-cutting resulting in employee cutbacks, fewer employees are being asked to do more and more work and, quite understandably, are becoming demoralized and discontented.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for managers to maintain the loyalty of their employees.

And, the level of employee loyalty is influenced by factors other than those within an organization.

For instance, the state of the general job market has a major effect on whether employees change jobs frequently or not. As more jobs open up, the opportunities to defect increase.

So how should top management approach the challenge of increasing the loyalty of employees?

Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book

Tags: emotional connection to the brand, loyal customers, loyalty, earn your customers trust, empower employees, loyal employees