As a social media marketer, I’m always keeping my eye out for rumblings of the next big, interesting or different thing in social media networking. Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot about what’s called the Employee Experience – often referred to as EX. Let’s take a look at what this means, and how companies are leveraging EX and social media to strengthen brand image and grow business.
THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE IS CHANGING WORKPLACE TRENDS
Essentially, EX is about companies beginning to realize that by cultivating social employees, they can forge successful brands. We’re all familiar with UX (user design) and CX (customer experience) and how those qualities add to the building of a brand; EX is a third dimension of brand development being introduced to the marketing matrix. EX is based on the idea that when employees integrate their processional identity with their personal identity, prospective customers are more likely to trust what’s being said. Trust between brands and their target audience has always been the mark of brand success.
For instance, I’m sure you can think of a time when an employee’s lackluster attitude turned you off from buying a product. Most recently for me, I was researching several alternative public relations platforms for my company. After reviewing several different options, I found one I was strongly leaning towards; let’s call it Media Company X. It seemed like Media Company X was a perfect fit for our needs, and I pretty much entered the product demo 97 percent sold.
The person giving the demo, however, couldn’t have seemed less interested in me, the product or what the product could do for me. My softball questions were barely answered, and I started to think maybe the product wasn’t actually as good as I thought it was. This employee seemed disconnected from both the product and the service consequently he actually unsold me. I didn’t even think that was possible until this demo! Thanks to this lackluster employee, we are taking our business elsewhere.
As the book “The Social Employee” points out, “If our employees aren’t excited about what they do, how can we expect our customers to be?” Media Company X lost our business because the employee tasked with giving me a demo wasn’t the least bit excited about what he does. Don’t be Media Company X when it comes to your employees. Focusing on employee experiences will help drive remarkable customer experiences and ignite revenue growth.
SHAPE THE RIGHT EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE, DISCOVER BRAND SUCCESS
The first step to building employee evangelists or brand ambassadors is, naturally, to create and cultivate a positive work environment. The EX journey starts from an outside perspective (the consideration stage), which will affirm or negate a person’s decision to join your company. How employees view your brand is shaped by each interaction with the company (i.e. manager instructions, strategic direction, performance rewards, etc.) thereafter.
When your employees feel nurtured and listened to – like a true part of the company – productivity rises and interactions with customers become more positive and uplifting. Employees will go that extra mile when they enjoy their job and believe in the product they’re selling.
Once you’ve built that positive, employee-friendly environment, consider what kind of social lives your team has online. Take the time to identify your socially engaged employees. Social employees have mastered their personal brand on social media networks; these employees enjoy sharing content, generating engagement and offering advice. Leverage their social commentary and empower each to become passionate brand ambassadors.
Happy with work, these employees will enjoy taking the time to engage with prospective – or current – customers online. Research by eDigital Research shows that live chat has the highest customer satisfaction rate of all customer service touchpoints. Likewise, customers will always trust employee recommendations over advertising, so the best way to build your brand is from inside out. Make your company a group of industry experts active in social media networking.
BUILDING THOUGHT-LEADERSHIP AS PART OF EX
Urge employees to share their expertise by writing thought-leadership pieces for your company blog. Every company has a variety of focus points; assigning certain employees a focus point keeps consistency in publishing and establishes individuals as experts in that particular focus point. Employees who position themselves as thought leaders and valuable sources of information will help drive high levels of brand awareness for your company. Moreover, when employees feel that their employers are invested in them their morale increases along with productivity.
Encourage hyper-connected employees to share content in their personal and professional networks. Naturally you want them to be sharing content and product info produced by your company, but keep in mind true thought leaders aren’t just promotional bullhorns. True thought leaders actively share and engage with content and info from similar companies (even if they’re competitors!), as well as industry publications, events, and the like.
BRAND AMBASSADORS BUILD AND MAINTAIN BRAND EQUITY
When it comes to customer loyalty, trust is everything. By turning employees into responsible brand ambassadors and thought leaders, companies create a value layer of credibility and trust for an organization. In return, customers will respond favorably to your employees’ expertise and enthusiasm for your company and product.
Employees are walking billboards that engage daily with current and potential customers. Each interaction collectively shapes the customer experience. Customers will perceive a brand’s quality based on how well the interactions are with employees. Happy employees make happy customers.
In the same way a positive experience drives brand loyalty, a positive working experience drives employee loyalty. This, in turn, results in positive customer experiences that drive brand loyalty. It’s circular, cyclical and intuitive.
THE EX CYCLE
If you’re interested in learning more about the Employee Experience and how to build brand ambassadors and thought leadership from within, download our deck on how to foster your brand with EX.