Here’s a slightly funny — if not a little icky — story. There is a local food delivery company in our town that picks up orders and takes them to people’s homes. Every time my husband sees one particular driver in that company’s fleet, the guy is picking his nose. He saw him three times in one week, and all three times the driver had his finger inserted in a nostril. Now, I don’t know about you, but my husband says he doesn’t care how hungry he is, he will never order food from that delivery service.
My story provides a cautionary tale for you as a business owner. Every time your employees are out in public, working on a job site, wearing the name of your company on their uniform, driving in the company vehicle with your logo emblazoned on the side, guess what? They are the face of your company. How does that thought make you feel?
If you feel comfortable with that, good for you! But if you cringed at the thought, you may want to consider some staff training.
Code of conduct
Every company should have an employee handbook. In that handbook, along with the rules for days off, sick time and other policies, include rules for how you want employees to behave on job sites. Do you want your customers to overhear your staffers’ loud radios, bawdy conversations or foul language? If this is a concern, train your employees how you want job sites to appear and sound to your customers.
But it’s not just the obvious stuff that makes a difference in how your company is perceived. Here’s an example from The Ritz Carlton hotel chain, wellknown for its world-class customer service. Whenever a hotel guest says, “Thank you,” to an employee, Ritz Carlton staffers are trained to say, “My pleasure,” as opposed to, “No problem.” Why? “No problem,” infers that taking care of customers is an inconvenience. But saying, “My pleasure,” conveys that you are happy to help. Do you see the difference here? A small tweak like that makes a big difference.
Social media behaviors
When your staff is not at work, they still have the ability to impact your company’s reputation. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms have the power to spread knowledge and misinformation in equal measure. Here are some tips to offer employees when they are posting online:
- Be clear that your comments are your own and do not necessarily reflect the policy of your employer.
- Do not disparage the company, products or staffers online.
- Follow the golden rule. Be nice.
- Remember that everything you post online stays online forever.
If you’re like most business owners, you’ve worked hard to earn your reputation and develop your brand name in the markets you serve. You may have a logo, a tagline and a marketing campaign. But have you ever discussed your marketing messaging with your staff?
If you don’t train your employees about the right verbiage to use when they describe your company to potential customers, what do you think will happen? More than likely, they’ll make it up themselves. (Did you just gasp? I did.) Share your company mission, your vision and your tagline with employees. Explain what your company name means, why you offer the services you do, and how to share these messages with customers in the field.
Remind your employees that they are the face of the company, your ambassadors out in the world, and make it clear that their continued employment could be impacted by their behavior. They honestly may never have considered that fact. Just like the delivery service that will never deliver a booger sandwich to our house, your company’s success and your reputation may depend on how your employees behave in the field.
Stacie Zinn Roberts is an award-winning writer, marketing expert and founder of What’s Your Avocado? Marketing and Public Relations, Mount Vernon, Washington, which specializes in green industry marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.