Thursday, December 07, 2006

Who's #1?

If your answer to "Who's #1 in your organization?" is customers, think again. The more I learn about services marketing the more I've come to realize that employees should be the #1 concern for any service provider.

In 1984, Richard Normann developed the concept, "moment of truth", which basically refers to any instance in which a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business. Each of these points of contact has an effect on how customers perceive a business and whether or not they'll use its services. Think about the points of contact for a library. Most of them involve library staff directly, or, like in the case of Web resources, behind-the-scenes. The moment of truth is also where your marketing plans live or die. So, who are you going to trust with these life-and-death moments? Staff! Preferably, well-trained, happy staff. If staff aren't willing and able to help patrons, all of your attention to patron needs/wants will be for nothing.

I've mentioned before that there is a terrific blog by Sybil Stershic, former Chairman of the American Marketing Association and very nice lady, that focuses on internal marketing and communication. While all her posts are educational, a couple stood out to me because they address a common problem: lack of employee buy-in. Sybil addresses both the cause of employee resistance to marketing and what to do about it. Her advice addresses all stages of implementing a marketing plan - before, during, and after. One of her suggestions is to recognize and reward employee participation. In a comment, I asked if she has some specific examples of recognition/award programs that work well. She contacted me to let me know that she wants to think about it some more and will respond in a forthcoming post. Of course, I'll let you know when it's up. For now, enjoy these two great posts on an important topic. Please share your ideas too!

If you still need more insights into helping employees to help customers, the Corante Marketing Hub has an excellent piece by Olivier Blanchard on aligning employee experiences with customer experiences, along with plenty of suggested readings.

[On a somewhat related note, if you want to read more about "moments of truth," there is a book by that title written by Jan Carlzon in the late 80's. The book describes how Carlzon turned Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) around to become a success. While it may seem dated, the approach Carlzon used still seems fairly progressive even by today's standards ("focus on the customer, encouraging risk-taking, delegating more authority to front-line employees, and eliminating vertical levels of hierarchy"). I'm going to put it on my To Read list.]

Categories: tips_to_try | usable_theories

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