Retail Level Employees Still Characterize Brand

Retail Level Employees Still Characterize Brand

You may hope that your associates embody your brand, but do you sometimes fear that employees don’t quite measure up to your brand’s image? When you achieve parity between brand and how your employees interact with customers, it pays off. When associates don’t mirror your brand, it costs companies plenty.

Social media customer interactions constantly evolve and serve to build the brand. As an example, 48% of consumers who used social media for customer service indicated that they used it to praise a company for a positive experience.  Although social media creates impact, one fact remains the same: retail level associates remain a large part of the brand experience.  In increasingly competitive environments with fast service expectations and sweeping technological changes, the store continues to be a mainstay.

As an example, at Quaker Steak, employees “blend in” with diners and exemplify the company brand. When you dine there, you won’t see servers in uniforms but you will see kitchen doors that remain open in the restaurants.  For a bank, employees who offer coffee embody the brand by providing a personalized and small community feel.  For a healthcare provider, employees who go the extra mile in providing personal and compassionate care may be considered the company’s top brand ambassadors.

Regardless of the type of brand expectation, the goal is to make the customer interactions as consistent with the brand and as memorable as possible.   Managers can’t achieve this without viewing the experience from the customer’s eyes.   They need to observe store employees  in action.  This back to basics strategy remains important, even in today’s multi-channel environment.

When managers lack time to visit stores regularly, onsite mystery shops and telephone mystery shopping offer solutions.  Mystery shops help companies focus on the key ways that employees represent your brand. Honing in on essential requirements such as a sincere greeting, uncovering needs as opposed to relaying every single product feature, and asking for permission to follow up with a prospect are all areas that mystery shoppers may observe and report.  Through our work with clients over the years, here are examples of mystery shop elements that assess how well employees mirror their company’s brand:

Personalized and courteous attention: 

  • Did the associate use your name at least twice?
  • Did the associate use the words “May I ask” and address you with your last name?
  • Did the employee convey benefits that meet your specific needs?

Attentive service: 

  • Did the associate offer you coffee or a beverage?
  • Was management present within the dining area?
  • Did the associate use positive words, such as absolutely, of course and yes?
  • Did the associate offer you a tour of the branch and introduce you to others?

Atmosphere: 

  • Did associates play music at appropriate levels?
  • Was the store temperature comfortable?
  • Were staff members dressed neatly?

 

These closed ended questions, combined with the shopper’s overall comments, provide insights on how well your employees exemplify your brand. 

For other posts about this topic, check out:

Frontline Employees: Advocate or Adversary for Your Brand

Dress Codes and the UBS Debacle

What Happens When Employee Dress Does Not Mirror Your Brand?

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