Analysis & Opinion

Game changing questions for service marketers

August 7, 2009 Katie Tammaro

While working with our service-industry clients to assess their brand and business-building strategies and programs, typically we begin by asking some potentially game-changing questions:

  • What’s your plan for branding from the inside out? Are your employees steeped in the brand? They better be, because the strongest service brands today are built on an employee base that can consistently articulate the brand’s promise and values.  If that’s not the case, ask how your company can do a more effective job of engaging, activating and instilling pride in your employees.  By developing a unique online photo mosaic of employees that recognized their contributions and connected their work values to the brand’s core values,  CSC made huge strides in galvanizing it’s global workforce.
  • Have you moved from a marketing in isolation to a multi-functional marketing mentality? When your best customers’ “enterprise-wide experience” is so central to business success, it’s all the more critical to realize that the entire company – across all functions – is on the marketing team. Have you taken down the internal walls and invited your HR and IT folks onto your brand management team?
  • Have you scripted the desired brand experience at all points of contact? It’s one thing for employees to be able to articulate the brand promise it’s another thing for them to bring it to life consistently. Your brand “lives” (or not) with each customer at each touch point, everyday. Scripting the experience is key to brand consistency and can help transform a negative service experience into positive long-term outcome.
  • Are you effectively pre-selling the desired brand experience? Given the inherent inconsistencies of delivering the desired experience, are you appropriately managing customer expectations as to what the experience can and should be? Are those same expectations being used to motivate your employees? Managing both sides of the expectations and experience equation is key to narrowing the gap between the perception and reality of your brand experience.
  • Are you listening to and appropriately participating in your brand’s online conversation? The exploding social marketing landscape enables your customers (past, present and future) to have an influential voice on what your brand is or isn’t and whether your brand can be trusted or not to live up to its promises. Leveraging new communication channels to both listen to and engage in a proactive brand-building dialog is no longer optional. And the real-time earning, restoring and protecting of “brand trust” is increasingly essential for on-going service marketing success. Say what you want about StarbucksAre you actively participating in online conversations about your brand?challenges of the past two years, they have done a tremendous job of listening to and appropriately participating in the online discussions about their brand.

Now more than ever, service brands and businesses are being confronted by heightened customer expectations and frustrations, new customer empowering technologies, fragile customer loyalties and unexpected competitive offerings. Asking the right questions now just might be the difference between future success versus failure.