The Power of the People Behind the Brand

by Jude Carter

Companies spend millions on brand building, marketing and advertising, yet the employee part of the equation is often overlooked. Sure, all that slick advertising and memorable messaging influence our buying habits, but so does the type of service we receive from the people behind the brand.

I recently bought an iPhone from my local AT&T store. My initial experience with the sales guy was very positive, even though I was going to have to wait 2 weeks for delivery of the phone. When I returned to pick it up, a different guy waited on me. His first comment was, “I’m glad it’s so busy today, because the day will fly by. I can’t wait to get out of here.” Unfortunately, he didn’t do a very good job of getting me out of the store quickly.

There was a problem with syncing up my business email, so he turned to the manager for help. Without acknowledging me in any way, the manager took the phone and started tapping keys, totally engrossed in his task. An hour and 15 minutes later, he still hadn’t figured it out. I left the store with my new phone and no working email.

What exactly happened here?
· The entire focus was on getting the phone to work, with no regard for the “customer experience”.
· A simple explanation of the problem would have gone a long way. Or an indication of how long it might take. Or a good joke, or a place to sit.
· I walked away annoyed with AT&T, and disappointed that I wouldn’t have full use of my phone until I returned to my office the next day (for some real tech support).

Apple and AT&T are both stellar brands. Yet in a matter of minutes, any employee in a customer-facing position has the power to influence the brand experience—- positively or negatively. Don’t forget to invest in people development activities to drive customer service, including sales training, employee recognition and rewards.



Jude Carter
August 24, 2010

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