Do your frontline teams deliver your customer experience with confidence?
That might seem like one question, but it is actually two and that fact can have significant ramifications for how you are serving your customers.
We recently conducted a Brand Transfer Study in conjunction with the Massachusetts Bankers Association. The study centered on Community Banks and the value proposition that sets them apart from larger players in banking.
From the results, we found that the question above had two distinct parts that were at odds with each other. First, let’s focus on the element of “confidence.” We asked 316 frontline employees and 38 executives across four banks how confident they were in explaining what makes their bank different and better than their competition. Both groups clearly indicated that they had a high degree of confidence, with both averaging in the “very confident” spectrum (second-highest category, see figure A below).
Translation: “We got this!” Both groups believed they were clear on the value proposition and could communicate that value to customers.
The second element of the question is where we discovered an issue. This is the “your” customer experience part of the question. It turns out, the groups are confident, but they have two misaligned understandings of what their bank’s value proposition and customer experience is supposed to be. When we calculated the Brand Transfer Score ™ for all four banks, we found the scores ranging from -17% to -28% with an average of -20% across the four groups (see figure A below). That metric indicates that there is a misalignment between leadership and their frontline teams in what the message is supposed to be. One group is telling one story, the other sees it a little differently – 20% differently to be exact (find full BTS report here: MassBankers Brand Transfer Study Report (Oct. 2020) – InnerView).
This data is an indicator of how consistent the story and the customer experience will be. Confidence is a great thing, unless frontline teams have confidence in the wrong version of the story. Confidently delivering the wrong message will create a lot of confusion for customers and lead to a lack of trust and confidence in your brand.
The natural next question is, “why are they misaligned on the message?” Another question in the research gave us a big clue. The leaders and the frontline employees were asked if their bank has a “clear process or set of actions that guide interactions with customers.” The results were rather surprising. For each bank, the frontline teams answered “yes” at a higher rate than the executives at their bank (see figure B below). In some cases, it was at a much higher rate.
Leadership did not believe they had put clear processes in place, but the frontline teams believed they had a clear plan. Translation: frontline leaders and their teams have established their own view of what the customer experience should be. No wonder they have confidence in delivering on that experience. They have been making up their own version of the story. This conclusion is supported by the fact that there is a similar pattern between the BTS scores and the gap between leaders and employees around process definition.
The biggest takeaway from this data is simple. Delivering a consistent customer experience starts with clear definition and is supported through regular reinforcement. That might sound like an obvious recommendation, but those simple steps are ignored too frequently. Companies get so focused on generating more demand and customer interest, that they neglect to nurture the value proposition internally. That can be the difference between a consumer choosing to do business with your brand or going elsewhere.
Consistency needs to come before confidence. The other way around can be dangerous for your brand.