Social media has eliminated the boundaries between the “insides” and “outsides” of the organization. Transparency requires authenticity and congruence between the brand promise and the customer and employee experience. Evidence from a recent TNS Global Panel Study across 23 countries indicates that integration is strongly connected to high performance. Employees who report working for companies that are “top” in their industry are substantially more likely to incorporate customer experience information into their work and to be focused on the customer brand experience.

With the increasing prevalence of social media, many organizations have witnessed the boundaries between the insides and outsides of an organization fade. More companies have become adept at marketing tactics and building quality into their products, but at the same time have realized that the service experience is harder to replicate than the manufacturing of products. Evidence from a recent TNS Global Panel Study indicates that integrating employee engagement, brand, and the customer experience is strongly connected to high performance.

Transparency requires authenticity and congruence between the brand promise and the customer and employee experience. The mantra of “it is more expensive to get a customer than keep a customer” has been permeating corporate walls since the 1980’s, as initiatives around the “soft” side of the corporate and customer relationship blossomed.

As focus shifted to the customer experience, TNS was interested in gaining statistics about brand ambassadorship, the importance of customer perceptions, and the changing roles of supervisors and leaders. Research from across 23 countries has established four key insights that aim to increase the brand promise to customers and enable the growth of high performing companies:

1.    Develop better relationships with employees:
Employees who perceive their company to be “one of the best” in their industry are 86 percent more likely to say they are satisfied with their employment when compared to 50 percent of individuals who feel their company is “average” in performance. Employees in high performing companies are also more than twice as likely to say that leadership is interested in the well-being of employees.

2.    Focus on the customer experience:
Employees who view their organization to be “one of the best” are also much more likely to say their workgroup has a clear understanding of customer needs. 78 percent of those employees also asserted that they use customer feedback to improve products and services as compared to 40 percent of those who feel their company is “average.”

3.    Be committed to delivering the brand promise to customers:
Employees in “one of the best” companies are 81 percent more likely to report that their workgroup focuses on the brand experience and that is what sets them apart, compared to the 34 percent of “average” companies. Of those high performing companies, 76 percent also report that their workgroup frequently goes “above and beyond” to deliver the brand experience to customers, compared to 38 percent who do not go the extra mile.

4.    Serve as a brand ambassador, and actively promote the company to others:
Huge gaps exist between “one of the best” and “average” companies in measures of pride, recommend products/services to others, promotoed as a great place to work, and perception of organizational reputation. For example, 85 percent of employees at “one of the best companies” would recommend the company’s products and services to others, compared to only 45 percent of “average” company employees.

The gaps between “top company” and “well below average” are substantial. This supports the belief that the brand promise has to be experienced by employees so they can live it with the company’s customers. High performing companies are breaking down the silos between customer and employee engagement, branding, and viewing them as multiple expressions of the core of who they are.

As social media outlets have exploded with Twitter, blogs, and Facebook, customers have been able to take greater control of the brand. Negative experiences spread like wildfire through YouTube, forcing companies to constantly monitor their image and brand identity. The exposure of disconnects between the rhetoric of the brand promise and the reality of customer experience is no longer only tightly controlled by the corporation.

According to an article, “Empowered,” in the Harvard Business Review, authors Bernoff and Schadler state that the employee experience now influences service interactions and the brand itself. They note that the employee experience within the company has also become increasingly public. Despite attempts to “manage” references to one’s company, corporate “insides” are increasingly visible to outsiders.

“To manage these changing boundaries, organizations must break down the silos between human resources and marketing. Examine the internal and external messaging for congruence, and look at employee and customer engagement measurement as facets of the same core identity,” says senior TNS consultants. “Look at social media and track what is being said about the organization, use social media more deliberately by leveraging the ambassadorship and passion of an organization’s products and services.”

While this analysis between customer experience, employee experience, and brand promise is just the beginning, an initial descriptive analysis suggests that high performing companies are operating on all cylinders. For more information, please view TNS Employee Insights’ homepage.

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