Employer Branding is Key

Companies that are looking to provide better customer service can start by better serving their employees, according to a report by consulting firm Arthur D. Little. The report, "The Convergence of Human Resource Needs and Brand Marketing Techniques," says that an employer brand certainly begins with the consumer brand, but needs to include an internal brand message and thereby create a platform for alignment of employee, supervisor, and management behaviors. "As these behaviors align, the culture is formed and enhanced. Most important, these behaviors can be connected to the brand promise being made to the customer, and thereby create the basis for a high-performance organization," says Thomas Manning, a vice president at Arthur D. Little and author of the report. Manning says the benefits to such an alignment of internal and external images are many. Companies can recruit talent with a competitive message of company values as compared to the commodity message of wage and title. And Manning says customers who react to a company brand via the employees they interact with may be more loyal. "The cost structure changes dramatically when employee satisfaction is high and the costs associated with managing the lack of integrity, employee attrition and other ills of a dissatisfied workforce are minimized," Manning says in the report. "Measures of an effective employer brand include relevance to the consumer brand service proposition, consistency with corporate values, and depth of affiliation that employees have with the message." The report gives Southwest Airlines as a prime example of a company creating a strong employer brand to facilitate better service across the enterprise. The report states that the company's focus on the concept of consumer "freedom" is translated well into a concept of employees' freedom. The company's employee satisfaction correlates to the company's high customer satisfaction, according to the study. Over the past 11 years the airline has had the fewest customer complaints in the industry, according to the Department of Transportation. In 2001 Southwest received The Wall Street Journal's rating for Highest Customer Satisfaction and was named Fortune
magazine's Most Admired Airline in the World from 1997--2000. Manning states that companies have to internally market their employer brand to employees to maintain a successful employer brand. To accomplish this companies are developing personalized marketing communications that have an explicit objective: optimize the behaviors of the employees and supervisors that promote the company's values in actions and words.
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