Customer service is an powerful tool that can support your brand or drag it down.

Sometimes customer service reps do everything “right” but miss the point of your brand entirely. You work hard to define your brand, but if you ignore the capabilities of customer service to communicate your company’s values, you miss a crucial opportunity to show customers that your brand is not just a logo, it’s a set of very specific qualities that set your company apart.

For example, if your brand is about caring, customer service interactions should consistently demonstrate caring. Likewise, if your brand is about leadership, customer service associates should proactively provide information.

While performing a customer experience audit for a gourmet mail-order food company, Interaction Metrics’ analysts discovered the company was missing an opportunity to communicate the unique attributes of their brand—the freshest produce, the most beautiful gifts, and their truly special presentation.

What Happened?

Customer: Will the apples be ready to eat?

Rep: Usually not, it may take several days for them to ripen. We keep them in cold storage for a few months…

In this case, the rep’s answer was technically correct, but it hardly distinguished the brand. Any food retailer—from the corner grocery store to Albertsons—might give the same answer. And if the customer was surveyed about the experience, they likely would have reported satisfaction with the rep’s answer.

After all, there was nothing maddening about the answer, it just wasn’t unique. Everything went as it was designed to. But the design was flawed.

What Went Wrong?

By treating the interaction like a simple Q & A, the rep missed an opportunity to give the customer a branded experience that connects on a memorable, emotional level. We showed our client how they could improve customer service by referring to the qualities that set their brand apart:

Customer: Will the apples be ready to eat?

Rep: Almost! To ensure they arrive in perfect shape, we send them as they’re ripening. In just a few days, they’ll be mouthwatering and delicious.

The new response is consistent with the company’s core values of providing a gourmet experience. And while optimizing one moment might seem easy, customer service consists of thousands of questions and exchanges. To brand the entirety of customer service requires an extensive brand plan.

The methodology for branding customer service is beyond the scope of this post. But here’s one important rule of thumb: When it comes to branding customer service, “a little bit” is key; too much, and your customer service comes across as inauthentic and forced. Think about small touches that you can do consistently because it’s the small things that have the most extraordinary impact.

What Does It Do?

Branded customer service gives your customers a cohesive message that remains consistent across their interactions with your company, lending your brand substance and depth.

While your competitors are busy showing off their brand simply through advertising, you’ll be cementing your brand as an integral part of the lived customer experience—which in the age of communication and authenticity is critical. Plus, when you brand customer service, you turn it from a necessary cost of doing business into a marketing vehicle that adds value.

As a Customer Experience Analyst, Martha Brooke teaches valuable tools to measure and synchronize your customer service with your brand to create engaging, memorable interactions. You can participate in Martha Brooke’s customer service branding session March 25th at HDI 2015, the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.

 You’ll learn steps to brand your own customer service. You’ll also learn how to use the Interaction Brand score; it’s a metric developed by Interaction Metrics to keep teams motivated with their customer service branding efforts.

Categories: Customer Service Evaluation
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Written by the analysts at Interaction Metrics, we highlight the latest developments in the fast-changing world of CX.