Consumers expect consistency from the companies they do business with, and that includes the brand image being reflected in the service they receive. If they are dealing with a luxury brand, for example, they expect the agent who takes their call to spend time understanding their issue and helping them out.This is why it's imperative for organizations to ensure that their customer service reflects the attitude of their brand across each touchpoint. Anand Subramaniam, vice president of marketing for eGain, outlines five steps that companies should take to align customer service to their brand image.
- Establish a brand strategy and implement it not only to marketing communications, but also to all elements of customer service, including call centers, online help, and within retail stores or other face-to-face interactions.
- Set up customer service processes that reflect brand identity. A high-touch brand might want to emphasize person-to-person communications rather than bury its consumers in an IVR black hole or websites that make it difficult to find contact information. Similarly, a sophisticated, non-intrusive brand will want to avoid using aggressive sales tactics.
- Employees are the face of the company and their demeanor should reflect the brand image. A company with a fun image, for instance, needs to hire people with exuberant personalities for all its service touchpoints, starting from staff who come face to face with customers to those working in call centers.
- Self-service initiatives should be aligned and reflective of the brand. Avatars are a great way to do this online, especially if the avatar is based on a spokesperson that is already associated with the brand, for example the gecko for Geico insurance company and William Shatner for Priceline.
- Customer service metrics should also be implemented according to the brand image. A consumer contacting a high-end retailer will expect the brand identity to be reflected in the call center, with the agent spending time to understand what the client needs and address the issue. Thus, a high-touch company should not use call handling as a metric, but rather focus on customer satisfaction or other quality-focused metrics.
Subramaniam stresses the importance of unifying brand alignment across all customer touchpoints, including social media. "Today's consumer comes across various touchpoints and wants continuity across all of them. You don't want to be Dr. Jekyll on one touchpoint and Mr. Hyde on another."
Aligning customer service to brand image works both for established companies and startups--it reinforces the identity of already recognized brands and helps new companies build their all-important brand image.