Internal strategy and front-​line staff: Your business is a channel too

An internal strategy to support your brand’s vision, and overall business strategy, is important to the successes of your front-​line troops. Do you have an internal communication strategy, one that words to support your brand, your marketing, and your PR?

In the last post, we talked about how you can prevent Running Screaming Syndrome, by simplifying your customers’ approaches to digital marketing and communication strategies. That is, tell them that they need one thing, not ten different things that each require intense resourcing. There is another element of Running Screaming Syndrome, too, one that’s hard to detect, and even harder to fix.

It’s a lack of cohesion between your business vision and how your front-​line staff perceive the business and the brand.

Customer Care Agent by Bloomsburys. Used under a Creative Commons license.
Customer Care Agent by Bloomsburys. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Story Time

An illustration here would be far more edifying than a description. Until fairly recently, I worked with an extremely visible company. Let’s call the company Empire of Stories. I headed up an administration team that managed an obscene workload across something like five mastheads. We were embedded in a customer service call centre.

The picture my staff routinely had of Empire of Stories was one of disinterest, lack of cohesion, inability to decide, misunderstanding, and confusion, peppered with rare, brilliant ideas. With the broader business being turned upside-​down in terms of products and structure, finance always a question mark, and no structure to guide communications, this is not surprising. The branding, we got that, that was easy. It’s really the only thing that was.

Curiously, the customers were also routinely confused, had a misunderstanding of how things worked, didn’t understand how things pieced together. Some of this was because the staff were confused by what to offer, and when, and how. They had little to no information and had to make decisions on the fly, sometimes contradicting themselves, and always contradicting their team mates.

The circulation figures this year also spoke volumes about who is creating Running Screaming Syndrome. The customers were departing in droves.

Interesting, isn’t it, that the staff members’ perspective was just like the customers’ perspective?

The small pieces are a reflection of the bigger pieces

Let me phrase this another way, one which is based on a universal law: the smallest part is a reflection of the greater whole. If a tiny corner of Empire of Stories was like this, what does it say about the bigger picture?

When you start thinking about your bigger strategies, make sure that you are factoring your internal staff into the equation. Whenever you create a piece of content for one channel, make it available in all other channels. That means, if you have an internal channel, make it available there too.

Content and communication strategies need to work inside your business too

Your internal channel might be as fancy as a cork board in the kitchen, or magnets on the fridge. Wherever it is, make it work for you and your staff.

This becomes very important when you are trying to make a cohesive communication strategy work for you. You can’t, for example, write about quoting and scoping on jobs in one way, and then work differently yourself.

Your internal strategy is a reflection of your external strategy, and both need to be tied to your bigger picture. This might mean creating templates for your staff to use as emails, teaching them how to re-​purpose content to save time internally, and viewing a customer call as though it is a visit to a website. Where are the roadblocks to either nailing a lead, or giving a customer the support that i requires?

Content and communication strategy needs to work in all of your channels, and work to create calm and happy customers. That means doing the work within your business in the same way that you face the world.

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