According to customer service guru and blogger Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”
Your company has a product or service that has a brand name, a brand identity, a purpose, and consistent visual presence as it relates to sales and marketing. And, as Godin mentions, your product has brand value, because customers are paying for it, establishing expectations around it, and talking about it. The value of the Customer Service Department has become powerful and vital over the past dozen years as consumers have blossomed into brand advocates based in part on online research and social media communication. Just as customers develop a relationship with your product, they also do with your Customer Service Department—a brand in its own right that sets expectations and creates memories, stories and relationships with consumers.
Looking at your Customer Service Department brand, then, let’s reflect: is your service brand being recognized among your industry and competitors? Is it being viewed within the company as vital as it relates to recruiting and overall corporate branding? Here are four ways to ensure that indeed, your service brand is a mirror of your company mission and brand identity.
Customer Service Brand Training
When Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) are first hired, they are required to attend training before they begin to man the lines and handle customer inquiries. Is company product/service brand training part of that CSR orientation? Service brand training doesn’t mean you solely arm your CSRs with a list of your products and/or services with bullet lists of the product benefits and features. The service brand identity is about how the consumer connects with the Customer Service Department. So in addition to product training, CSRs must also be given skills they need to communicate positively and professionally with customers. Preparing your CSRs with customer service training to be your company’s first line of brand advocates is essential as it relates to successful customer service. After completing effective training like this, employees will feel good about their accomplishments and customers will rave about their excellent service. That emotional connection is between the Customer Service Department and the customer–an establishment of what your service brand is all about.
Customer Service Department Branding: Consistent Messaging
In its simplest form, the company brand is the spirit—the essence—of your company. Without good customer service, the spirit of the brand is lost. It is that simple. And CSRs are a vital connection to delivering the spirit of the brand to your customers. “Significant improvements to customer experience and loyalty ratings can be achieved once this connection is made, assuming that your brand promise is well researched and meets current customer needs.” Brand training for the Customer Service Department should start with the messaging they are delivering to the customers—is company messaging consistent? Are procedures in place that CSRs follow when it comes to customer complaints and/or product and service issues? Your CSRs are the face and voice of your company. Businesses today realize the value these front-line employees bring. Motivate your CSRs through training, so they can reflect the spirit of the brand every time they speak to a customer.
Customer Service Department Branding: Industry Recognition
According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, good, consistent “customer service not only affects revenue, but has a long lasting impact, with customer service ranking as the No. 1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company.” The better the customer service provided, the more likely customers will share the experience with their friends. And as your reputation for service builds, you have more to brag about in the media which will in turn, provide more coverage and attract more prospective customers.
Customer Service Department Branding: Your Internal Reputation
External Customer Service brand recognition has been established: customers and your industry are buzzing about the outstanding service your company provides. So what about internal departmental brand recognition? A common level of respect is created as accolades come in, and the Customer Service Department continually gets recognized for its excellent service.
A strong reputation helps HR recruit for the Customer Service Department. Strong candidates strive to work for successful companies that have a positive brand identity and company reputation. According to Dan Purvis, Director of Public Relations at The Meltwater Group (see pg 12 of attachment), “candidate attraction relies on having a credible, attractive brand, and you don’t want anything getting in the way of that.”
Customer Service Department Branding: Go for it!
Now that you have the tools to set your Customer Service Department goals, create industry-wide recognition, and establish an internal company reputation, you can put all these tips into motion. Now you can create a Customer Service Brand that stands for pride, represents the satisfaction of all customers, and sets the standard for all Customer Service Departments to follow!
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