When I was managing car dealerships, our team had a manifesto of PSP, which stood for People>Service>Profits. Treat your people right and they’ll deliver great service to your customer. Great service is the threshold to profits. That awesome experience should be the same for customer and employee alike.
Today, Social Media amplifies what’s being said everywhere. Your employees are the support for your brand. Whether you know it or not, they advocate (or not) for your store to their networks and maintain an open dialog with your customer in real life and online.
Social Business from the top down is about meeting and exceeding the needs of the Social customer knowing there’s an audience watching. The most effective way to do this is to get everyone behind Social Media by having one or more employees leading the way. Find those employees who’re passionate about the customers and enlist their leadership.
Every year Edelman, the global PR/marketing firm, conducts its annual Trust Barometer Survey on the level of trust the public has in business, government and media. This diagram shows who has the most impact when delivering information about a company:
Notice the shift from 2011 to 2012: Information from a “Regular Employee” (up 16%) and “A Person Like Yourself” (up 22%). Individuals don’t trust marketing messages however conversations with employees is another story all together. Yes, buyers have a high degree of trust in employees of companies.
What are some of the steps we can take to encourage employees to be part of Social business?
First, build a positive team and foster family spirit. I like to use Tony Hsieh’s example from his book, “Delivering Happiness”:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Be Adventurous, Creative and Open-Minded
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Do More with Less
- Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
- Be Humble
- Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
Now let’s talk about greasing the wheels of those trusted conversations between your employees and your customers. Tony Hsieh asks for input from his employees as part of the orientation package for all new hires. He says, “Our culture is the combination of all our employees’ ideas, so we’d like to include everyone’s thoughts. Please email me 100-500 words about what the Zappos culture means to you.”
Ask these questions of your employees:
- What is our store’s culture?
- What’s different about it compared to other dealerships’ cultures?
- What do you like about our culture?
What’s great about their answers is that it gets them involved in your Social and online marketing plan and triggers their customer service values. I see most dealers posting updates on Social networks without even a hint of a foundational strategy. Your employees on the front lines know more about what your customer wants than just about anybody else. They’re a goldmine of information.
The reason I focus so much on Social marketing is because your employees have networks and, with a little training, they can become a voice for your company. Another reason is below in the Edelman study results: the 75% growth rate of trust in Social Media marketing.
It’s kind of hard to argue with these stats. If you don’t have a process to deliver credible information and marketing messages to your customer, sales and profits will decline. Take a good, hard look at your culture and decide for yourself. How would your employees contribute to the success of your online reputation?
Chances are, some of your employees have already figured out that they can talk to your customer online just like they do in real life. Some may even be building their own personal brands so that their network knows more about them. Leverage the strength you have in your own backyard.
Zappos continues to achieve their sales goals because they decided early on to invest their time, money and resources into three key areas: Customer service, culture and employee training and development.
When will you realize that in the long run, these are really the only competitive advantages you have?