Over the next few months we aim to summarise some of our own thoughts on each of the ‘9 Ps’ (yes, you heard it right, things have moved on since the days of the 4 Ps!) of the strategic marketing planning process. We cover the importance of managing these ‘controllable, internal’ elements of the promotional mix and PEOPLE seemed an apt place to start…
Your people…..your greatest asset.
This month, two of the most recognisable British brands – John Lewis and Waitrose – announced that they are in the process of rebranding as ‘John Lewis & Partners’ and ‘Waitrose & Partners’, respectively from September. This apparently includes both an internal and external differentiation campaign which puts the focus even more on their valued team members – they will even be equipped with iPhone’s to enhance their customer service activity which the brand prides itself on, as well as getting staff directly involved in social media. However, some are saying, it requires more than simply a rebrand to ensure customers and staff feel the love.
John Lewis are well known for putting their staff at the centre of their model in order to differentiate from their competitors. And they are not alone: one of entrepreneur Richard Branson’s most famous quotes states that ‘employees come first’ as opposed to customers. Branson’s argument is that happy employees will look after customers naturally and therefore create a great customer experience.
And without sitting in board meetings at John Lewis it’s pretty safe to guess that creating the ultimate customer experience is top of their agenda. By choosing to put their employees in the driving seat and recognising them as the valuable assets they are, these brands are looking to become more human and relatable, ensuring they don’t become a faceless corporation.
Creating ‘the’ experience
Why is this so important? Because it’s the experience created by our staff that a customer will remember. And that makes the difference between a one-off and a repeat purchase, a positive referral or a negative review. Take a look at Tripadvisor reviews of small hotels and restaurants, for example. The reviewers regularly mention the name of a staff member – or partner, as per the John Lewis and Waitrose example – because it was that one person that made a difference to their meal, stay, shopping experience etc. Your team members can create fantastic memories for your customers and equipping them with the resources, autonomy and motivation to do so should arguably be the company’s key goal.
Recognising the individuals within your workforce, nurturing and retaining them can make the difference between having a successful, thriving business or one that’s struggling to make ends meet.
Focus on what you have
Anyone who has ever had to recruit staff understands that the process is expensive, time-consuming and not necessarily always a success. Finding the right people is hard. As a consequence, focusing on the people that are already with the organisation should be a priority for employers. Once you have found ‘the right people’ – make sure you keep them. What’s more, they can be the easiest route to finding more of the same…referral campaigns can work just as well for internal staff recruitment as they can on sourcing new customers!
Having a happy workforce often starts with listening to your staff. What are their concerns? What motivates them? What would they like to achieve, both in their job and personally? Crucially, what ideas do they have to make their and the customer’s day better? These are the people at the coal face – they often know the business better than anyone else.
Once expectations are clear, it is often time for a reality check. Whilst not everything can be achieved straight away, it’s often possible for employers and employees to take at least a few steps towards each other, no matter the size of the company.
Your most valuable asset
If nothing else, open up a dialogue with your staff and get to know them better. After all, they are much more than processors – they are your most valuable asset. Allowing employees to shine and be heard goes a long way towards making them a part of the company and creating a connection that can develop huge benefits for everyone in the long term.
Needless to say, there’s a whole lot more to consider when reivewing our ‘people’ strategy than can be discussed in one article. If you would like to talk about how to make the most of your most valuable asset as a part of the strategic marketing planning process, drop Fiona a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.