This article originally appeared in the March issue of Customer Interaction Solutions
In this day and age, every company should recognize that having a strong brand is essential to success. But recognition alone doesn’t necessarily translate into effective practice. Brand isn’t just a logo; or a letterhead; or your corporate identity. It’s not even the product you make. Your brand is how an individual feels about your company – not the way you want them to feel, but how they actually feel.
While you can’t completely control individual feelings, you can certainly influence them by properly communicating the qualities that make your brand unique. Consumers need to know who you are; what you do; and why they want your service. They need to have a clear sense of your identity and what makes you stand out. This knowledge gives customers confidence, motivates buying and helps cement loyalty.
Unfortunately, often times, branding – the cornerstone of all marketing efforts – can get lost in call centers (both in-house and outsourced). The reason is simple: Call centers are primarily task-oriented. Representatives concentrate on completing specific tasks – taking orders, providing customer service – rather than fortifying your brand. As a result, you miss out on a golden opportunity (one-to-one contact!) to bolster brand perception.
But a new approach to taking calls – one that concentrates as much on brand reinforcement as it does on task resolution – has been gaining steam. By employing brand ambassadors on the phones rather than traditional agents, companies can enhance their brand value with each and every call. The end results not only improve your bottom line in the here and now but also benefit your organization as you move into the future.
What are Brand Ambassadors?
Much like diplomatic ambassadors act as spokespeople for their nations in foreign lands, brand ambassadors are delegates for your company on the phone. They give voice to your brand, speaking on your behalf and conveying the characteristics that define your organization. Brand ambassadors not only help customers accomplish goals, they reinforce your brand identity – who you are; what you do; and why they need your service.
Brand ambassadors differ from typical call center representatives in that they are trained to be extremely knowledgeable about your company and your products – not just the specific task in front of them. With brand ambassadors, there is a shift from an order taker mentality. The focus isn’t just on getting the sale – it is also to ensure there is a positive customer experience and the customers leave the call with a product that meets their needs. They become an integral part of your overall sales and customer lifecycle.
How Do Brand Ambassadors Add Value?
For brand ambassadors, training is typically more in-depth and individuals are educated on all aspects of a product and/or company. So, for example, even if the individuals on the phones are only taking calls for one specific product, they still need to be knowledgeable about complimentary products and the role customer service plays after the product is in hand. This inspires confidence and underscores your brand message in the consumer’s mind.
As I mentioned previously, the focus of the brand ambassador is to ensure that the end result of every call is a positive customer experience. The customers should leave the call with a better understanding of why they need the product. After all, that’s what branding is: a promise of value to your customers. The brand ambassador reiterates that promise. They also educate the customers on how to resolve any issues in the future (when applicable) and give them an overall positive feeling regarding their purchase or experience.
How Can Brand Ambassadors Benefit Your Company?
Brand ambassadors offer companies benefits that are both immediate and enduring. The more comprehensive training and education brand ambassadors receive (versus standard agents) produces benefits that are instantly evident on the phones. Since brand ambassadors are truly schooled in the tenets and specifics of your company, they are much more confident in their interactions with customers. And the confidence of the brand ambassador is directly transferred to the customer through the call – producing a positive and rewarding experience that enhances brand value.
While brand ambassadors require more training time up front, they generate results that ultimately give you a higher return on investment. Their expansive knowledge base enables them to answer questions more quickly and satisfactorily, streamlining calls; and, because they work to make sure customers are fully educated on the product or service of interest, they also cut down on returns and cancellations. Perhaps most importantly, by providing positive experiences and inspiring confidence, brand ambassadors build customer loyalty, cultivate repeat business and lay the foundation for future success.
Pamela Hamor is director of client services at InfoCision (News - Alert) Management Corp. Reach her at email@example.com. In business since 1982, InfoCision is the second-largest privately held teleservices company and a leading provider of customer care services, commercial sales and marketing for a variety of Fortune 100 companies and small businesses. Along with call center solutions, InfoCision offers business intelligence, digital printing, direct mail solutions and fulfillment services. For more information, visit www.infocision.com.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi