Your company brand is not what you think it is or would like it to be, but rather it's the set of ideas and feelings that a prospect or client has when they think about and interact with your company. And that interaction can often be with only one or two people in your organization.

And because of that one-on-one interaction, that one singular person who interacts with your clients IS your business in their eyes - regardless of what your overall company intentions are.

A recent experience at a local company brought this whole idea home to me, and I was really surprised at how my feelings about this company were so directly tied to two people.

I regularly go to one place for service on my car and these two people are my main contacts. They greet me by name, always with huge smiles and with a knowledge of me and an interest in what's happening in my world. They are always willing to educate me and eagerly engage in conversation with me about car or non-car related things.

I rave about my service every time I go in. I feel like they do such a good job taking care of me that I've wanted everyone to know.

And then it happened. I went in recently and one of them wasn't there. I asked why and what happened. Apparently my favorite cashier left for a job with more responsibilities.

So sad for the customers!

But life goes on, and they had replaced her – with two people - who could perform the functions of the job. But they didn't do it with a smile, or with friendly chat and there was a new level of formality that was completely off-putting. And when I came back to pick my car up they were apparently "done" for the day because I was clearly more an annoyance than anything. This job would be great except for the customers, right?

I like this company, but these decisions are very disappointing. They had amazing and now it's gone. And so are my long-held feelings about their brand.

One person. Who knew one person, probably the lowest paid person in the company, could change the face of your company so much?

They obviously didn't hire these new people for their personalities and ability to engage and endear customers. Sure the company processes might be taken care of efficiently, but I think in each new hire you need to look much deeper, beyond the ability to perform the functions of the job. Ask yourself "How does this person fit culturally? How well do they exemplify the brand we want to project?"

Everyone can have amazing

If you don't have amazing staff right now that is actively making believers out of your clients every day, then it's time to make some changes.

Start first with your culture and expectations. What have you created that guides people in their behaviors? Is it great customer service at every level of the company? Or is it sticking to the processes as defined in the training manual?

Next, I'd take a good long look at the team and make some difficult decisions. If you've got people who just don't embody the spirit of what you want for your client experience, then they need to go. I'm always a believer in giving people a chance to improve/change, but it would be a quick one...because every interaction with the customer IS your brand to that customer and to the people they talk to.

Creating a reputation can be a slow process of one interaction at a time over time. But ruining that reputation can happen at the speed of one singular interaction. And reversing that reputation can take a lifetime.

We can all get mediocre service at nearly any business in town. But exceptional service that makes you really, really want to work with someone? Now that's a brand to invest in.

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