2 beers and a burger please, delivered by someone who cares about the brand!
On a recent holiday trip to Portugal we went into a bar/restaurant that we know well and have visited for a number of years. It had hit hard times and was actually closed when we arrived. There was a promise that it would open again soon and so it did. We popped along to find that the menu was a slight improvement on the previous version and the beer and wine were the same. All looking good.
However, on the opening night, the staff had changed. New faces, new attitude, not bad but not aligned to what the place had always stood for. Where there had been genuine friendliness there was polished charm. Casual attentiveness had been replaced by a slight hint of up selling. The name above the door was the same, so were the fixtures, fittings and the product. It just didn’t feel the same.
It really is easy to underestimate the impact that staff’s behaviour has on the brand experience. In the service arena they define what you stand for and although we all say it, do we really understand it? The new staff were highly trained with text book customer service skills but they were delivering a different brand to the one we had come to love. The quirkiness had gone and the sense of being served by friends had disappeared.
It reminded me that it is never enough to just recruit good staff and train them in good customer service principles. That’s what all your competitors will be doing as well. You have to immerse them in the brand and let them work out the style that reflects it. It can be a tougher challenge but the rewards can be immense, your people enjoy living the brand and customers become advocates.
Customer service skills should be the basics that everyone delivers well (without it you are not even in the game), by adding those brand specific behaviours the experience becomes unique and capable of building stronger advocacy.
Two days later we were back in the same bar and most of the original staff had returned. I shook them by the hand and welcomed them back like long lost friends. They looked genuinely pleased to be there and more importantly the brand experience had returned.
A lesson for us all.