We’ve all heard (and probably over-used) the phrase ‘customer is king’. It’s something I’ve been known to harp on about quite frequently! But Richard Branson’s claims that your employees are the most important part of your business, not the customer, has thrown into doubt whether it is really is the customer we should be focusing our attention on.
So which one really is king? Should we be prioritising messages to the customer or our employees?
With my communications hat on, I always stress to my clients the importance of getting to know your customers. You can’t write messages they can relate to if you don’t really understand who they are, where they come from, what job they have, if they have a family, how much free time they have and what they enjoy doing in that free time. I could go on! Once you’ve built up a profile of your target customer, you can start to craft your marketing communications to speak directly to them.
Language is such an important part of marketing your business. Get it wrong and you’ll turn off potential customers in an instant. Use the right words and tone of voice to speak to those customers and you’ll create an opportunity to build a relationship with them. Think about it… how many times have you seen promotional material for a business containing a spelling or grammatical error?
For me, it was last weekend. Stopping at a set of traffic lights, I read a sticker in the back window of the car in front. It was advertising a local cleaning business and ended with the sentence “No job to big or small”. The poor spelling instantly lowered my confidence in that business and the people behind it. Their service could well have been top class, but the fact that they can’t speak to me using the right words left me shaking my head.
And don’t get me started on the printer who produced the sticker!
Once you’ve built up a profile of your customer and decided how you’re going to speak to them, you next have to select the most appropriate channel for your message and adapt the content to suit that channel. This is where really knowing your customer gives you an advantage. If you know how and when your customer likes to receive their communications, you can tailor the channel to their preferences. It’s amazingly simple, yet incredible how many businesses get this wrong. Think business cards overloaded with text, printed flyers produced using online content or Facebook posts resembling essays.
So what about our employees? Having previously worked in internal communications, I couldn’t agree more with Richard Branson about the importance of keeping your workforce happy. I believe it’s imperative to keep your employees up to date on what’s happening in the business, and there’s no substitute for doing this face to face. Managers should share as much as they can with their employees. Show your employees trust and you’ll create a committed, hardworking and motivated team, and this will be infectious when they speak to your customers.
Surely Richard must be right then? Well, partly. I prefer to look upon it as a never-ending cycle...
Keep your team well-informed and happy, but educate your employees about your customers so they know who they’re speaking to and how they prefer to be communicated with. As a result, your customers will gain trust and confidence in your business. A successful business leads to happy and motivated employees.
If, like me, there’s just you in your team, the theory still applies - but you can spend more time keeping yourself happy instead!