These days when you hear the phrase “brand ambassador,” it’s usually referring to an influencer talking up your brand to the world on social media. But many businesses are realizing that some of their greatest brand ambassadors are actually within their own companies: engaged, enthusiastic employees.
According to a Gallup poll, companies with high employee engagement report 3.9 times the earnings per share than competitors. Engaged employees create a more stable workforce — staff are less likely to jump ship — freeing the enterprise to focus on strengthening its brand.
So how can you go about transforming your employees into brand ambassadors?
Encourage Communication and Participation
Workers may feel like just a cog in the wheel if they’re kept in the dark about important business decisions and other enterprise goings-on. What’s more, employees need to feel like their voices and concerns are being heard.
Consider launching an internal communications tool such as a blog on your intranet or a wiki (which also will show you’re staying abreast of tech trends!). These are helpful avenues to disseminate information quickly and simply and empower workers to share ideas, identify areas for improvement, and air feedback about new initiatives and imperatives. From the administrative assistant to C-suite executives, encourage all staff to participate in the company-wide conversation.
Thinking about making big changes to your products or services? Before making any moves, find out what your employees think. Soliciting their input will help employees feel valued and engaged.
For example, if you are considering renovating retail space, ask employees for their feedback on your ideas. Their insight from the “front lines” could help you avoid costly missteps and refine your vision in a way that truly strengthens your brand. Getting employee input will also help toward buy-in for projects, which will make launches and transitions go more smoothly.
Foster a Sense of Community
Sometimes companies run through team-building exercises almost as a formality, but events that bring your employees together for a central purpose really can unite workers under a common cause. Regularly organize activities such as volunteering or fundraising for charities that can encourage employees to feel more strongly connected to your corporate brand.
Pick Passionate People
It might be easy to hire just any warm body to run a checkout or sling boxes in the stock room, but only employing passionate people will reap dividends many times over. Whatever the job function, hire great talent — rising stars who are invested in taking your brand to the next level. It’s what makes Apple’s Genius Bar so successful and Nordstrom sales associates so effective. Brand ambassadors don’t just do their jobs; they bring your company to life.
Use Tech to Make Employees (and the Experience) Better
Don’t make the mistake of making technology the star. Tech is simply the tool to help your employees and your business achieve success. Side-by-side customer interactions remain the gold standard; tools such as mobile point of sale (POS), digital signage, and real-time inventory management solutions, facilitate and elevate the associate-to-customer conversation.
Technology also helps you manage your business in a way that empowers employees. People counting solutions, for example, provide data that helps you predict when more staff will be needed to adequately cover a shift and enable sales associates to provide the best customer service. Engineering schedules to help your team create exceptional customer experiences will also help create brand ambassadors who feel like they’re really contributing to the good of the enterprise. This will also ensure that you have enough staff to handle periods of heavy foot traffic. Swamped staff is going to be harried and harried staff members’ customer service will suffer.
Engaged employees, not just workers who go through the motions, become frontline warriors for your corporate brand. If you’re looking for ways to build your company from within, invest in these five strategies to turn rank-and-file workers into invested and passionate brand ambassadors.