Life is all about the choices that we make to get where we are today. Sometimes, our choices create a snowball effect and a circle of incredible experiences that lead us to find everything we were looking for.
For Roy Atkinson, the choices he made led him to get jobs delivering newspapers, then in a supermarket where he learned a lot from a young CEO about customer service and dealing with people. Later on he worked as a salesperson and then in the banking industry. By the time he studied for his second career within the world of computers and technology, he realized that everything he had done had guided him to find his true passion in life.
The Path to Customer Service
Now a recognized expert in the field, Roy had a very nice discussion with us about one of the best and most important topics in most businesses right now: Employee Advocacy; a program with an increased rate of implementation of 191% among companies.
This is something that Roy has defined in two ways:
“One is about being an advocate for employees, especially the frontline workers who often know more about the products and processes than managers do. The second is about engaging employees in becoming advocates for your brand. The two are not necessarily separate”.
Employees who are respected and consulted for their expertise are more likely to become brand advocates. When this happens, they go to digital channels to spread their knowledge and try to build a solid reputation for themselves. Little by little, we have seen organizations spot this opportunity and change their company culture towards a more human approach for communications. However, this should indeed be handled carefully.
If employees wish to participate in a company’s social media, they should be able to do it, but not without guidance. Companies these days should have a social media policy that allows employees to be involved, to engage and participate. However, this should have a consistent message and there have to be people in charge of these initiatives.
Can Customer Service benefit from leveraging employees as brand ambassadors? Yes.
There are 3 requirements for this to actually happen: a shared knowledge, training, and a sound process. It is vital for employees to understand the company’s vision.
“They need to have positive guidelines and sound policies to go by, and their roles need to be defined. Providing customers with disconnected answers or a company’s internal language serves no one”.
Moving on to the “How”
As the final part for this interview, Roy gave his very useful advice on how to actually implement an Employee Advocacy program.
First: There has to be a strategy
This strategy should mainly focus on why and how such advocacy be beneficial for the company. Leveraging the employee’s particular expertise is a good place to start, along with making sure they have a good, straightforward process for sharing knowledge so that, to quote the English adage, “the right hand knows what the left hand is doing”.
Second: The employees should be focused on assisting the customer
They should not have any barriers for doing this. Ultimately the goal of every business is to make money and one of the primary ways to that is to provide goods and services people want. If employees can explain the goods and services to customers and help them to be successful in using the company’s products, they will perform a useful role as advocates. While social amplification is a good thing, employees shouldn’t only be used to multiply marketing messages.
Third and Last: Recognition
In order for employees to share relevant knowledge successfully, they need to have a reason motivating them to do so. As a company, you should recognize every employee that does extra effort outside their own responsibilities for the benefit of the company. Recognized employees will always do better than expected, and material rewards should not be above what truly matters: making them feel great about the place they work for.
Whether you choose to focus on customer service, marketing, HR, or any other department when implementing an Employee Advocacy program, everything should lead you to embrace the employees of the whole organization as the main assets to become the voice of your company.