There's a customer that doesn't get as much attention as the others. This customer knows your products, lives your corporate culture; he may even post about your company on social media. Who is this overlooked customer? He’s the internal customer, also known as your employee.
Why focus on the internal customer?
Most companies focus their branding efforts on marketing activities, such as advertising campaigns and packaging. Yet a powerful brand asset is often right under your roof. Employees or internal customers can have a direct impact on customer perception and overall brand health. Engaged employees are “more productive, create better customer experiences, and are more likely to remain with their employers. As a result, employers win because they get a more stable and motivated workforce and can, consequently, spend more time strengthening their brand,” according to a Gallup poll. When the internal customer is happy, she is more likely to pass on those good feelings to customers.
How happy employees help your brand?
Engaged employees are more likely to become brand ambassadors. These are people that believe in your brand and passionately promote it to their networks. They provide visiabilty and credibility to your brand. Many brands shell out millions of dollars for celebrity endorsers. But it turns out customers trust employees more. According to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer, “employees rank higher in public trust than a firm’s PR department, CEO, or founder. Fourty-one percent of us believe that employees are the most credible source of information regarding their business.” Think of brand ambassadors as the intersection between paid advertising and organic word-of-mouth.
Brand Ambassadors Help Sales
For the bottom line focused, the concept of brand ambassadors might sound too wishy-washy. The truth is that word of mouth activity does have an effect on sales. The Return on WOM study organized by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) found that word of mouth drives 13% of customer sales, about $6 trillion annually. They also found that word of mouth boosts paid media by 15%. Another Gallup study showed that that “companies with high employee engagement levels have 3.9 times the earnings per share when compared to those in the same industry with lower engagement levels.”
Encourage Social Media Activity
Many companies use precious resources to tamp down employee social media activity. They’re operating under the model that limiting social media will minimize risks. But the opposite is true. See our blog post on why social media at work is a good thing. Whether they are millennials or boomers, employees are already using social media at work. It’s time to shift the focus from limiting to educating and monitoring. The first step is to implement a solid social media policy. The second is to establish a social media compliance program. The first step sets guidelines for appropriate social sharing behavior, and the second enforces the rules. A program like Cafyne protects you behind the scenes. With these guardrails in place, it’s easier to foster a community of internal brand ambassadors. Now is the time to embrace the often forgotten internal customer and nurture his powerful marketing potential.