The Need for Brand Alignment and Frontline Support in Telecom
Turnover is a challenge in frontline positions across all industries: retail, call centers, and the like. But in the telecom space, it’s even more difficult. Customers have a love-hate relationship with telecom service providers. Because they don’t feel like they fully understand what they’re paying for or why their bills are increasing, they often end up taking out their frustration and confusion on frontline employees.
In addition, telecom products and packages are always changing — and fast. As a result, frontline teams are required to adapt to continually evolving product sets, channel packages, and speed tiers for Internet service. In this environment, where change is the only constant, frontline employees are left strained and overwhelmed just trying to keep up.
Where Telecom Brands Have Gone Wrong
Telecom brands have the power to make improvements. How? They have to engage these employees the right way, support them in delivering a great customer experience, and work to help them find internal brand alignment. Right now, that isn’t happening enough.
Service providers often use technology to keep customer-facing personnel up to speed with all the information they need. But reliance on technology can quickly become over-reliance, and information can quickly become information overload.
Because telecom companies have such a wide range of services and products with technical details, they often store information about these things in a central database for staff to access when needed. Immediate access to information shouldn’t be a bad thing. In reality, though, these platforms are saturated and hard to navigate. They’re outdated and passive. If a database isn’t user-friendly or useful, it won’t help employees align with the brand they represent.
Some companies also provide staff with technology that offers real-time advice or information to assist them in customer conversations. This might look like on-screen message prompts that say, “Don’t forget to mention this product!” or audio messages (known as “whispers”) that remind employees what to say next during a call center phone conversation.
It’s not that this technology can’t be helpful, but it doesn’t equip frontline staff to move through a dynamic customer conversation easily. Sometimes, it actually becomes more of an obstacle than an aid if employees rely on it so much that they stop reacting to — and interacting with — the customer.
Technology can be a great support to frontline teams, but it takes far more than just tech tools to engage teams with a brand story and find alignment throughout a telecom company.
The Risk of No Alignment for Telecom Brands
Competition in telecom is high; customers don’t need cable to watch TV anymore or a telecom provider to get internet service. There’s a world of options, and in that world, customers will go with the brand that offers the best experience and delivers on a clear promise.
Brands that don’t do this will deal with the consequences. They’ll struggle to build a loyal following; they’ll also be doomed to compete on price alone. When cable and telecom companies fall into price wars, they condition their customers to switch providers, straining operations and frustrating everyone involved.
Ultimately, telecom brands that don’t distinguish themselves struggle to grow. Brands that connect with customers and create anticipation around new products find success. Look no further than Apple for proof of that. But customers are usually skeptical of brands that don’t build that connection; as a result, they’re less likely to shell out money for their products.
How Telecom Companies Can Engage Teams and Achieve Brand Alignment
For telecom companies to set themselves apart and avoid the risks of being just another provider, brand alignment is key. Here are four ways to find alignment and support frontline employees:
- Define where the brand is winning.If customers are cynical of a brand, frontline employees will be, too. Clearly define where your brand is excelling. What do customers really like about you? Where do you outshine the competition? Find the proof and make sure your frontline teams believe in it enough to effectively communicate it to customers.
- Make the messages about your people.Tailor how you communicate to frontline teams just like you tailor messages to consumers. Every role interacts differently with customers, so help each employee understand the part he or she plays in delivering your brand story. Show frontline teams how they help your brand win in the marketplace, and they’ll be empowered to share that same story with customers.
- Reinforce the story in new ways. Aligning frontline teams with your brand is like any good relationship — it’s an ongoing effort. To hold their attention, make sure that you’re communicating your brand messages to them in fresh ways. Email and product training won’t cut it. Create content that people want to consume, not a tsunami of information. You’ll find that your teams are not only more passionate about your brand, but also excited to share that passion with customers.
- Gather feedback.For internal brand engagement to be sustainable, it has to be nurtured and refined. Taking the time to talk to your frontline teams is crucial. Ask them how customers are responding to your brand messages. Alignment is about relationships, so listen and adjust based on what you hear.
Telecom is competitive. It’s constantly changing and growing, and frontline employees are expected to keep up. Take the time to support them and help them understand and believe in your story, and you’ll find the alignment you need to stand out.
Chris Wallace is the president and co-founder of InnerView, a marketing consulting firm that helps companies transfer their brand messages to their customer-facing employees and partners.
InnerView ensures the people who represent your brand have the tools and strategies to tell your company story confidently and consistently. Chris has nearly 20 years of sales, marketing, and corporate leadership experience.