It cannot be denied that “Customers are now King, and Queen!” In times when we need to retain our existing customers like never before, and encourage new ones as much as possible, it is absolutely essential that the bar is raised on all aspects of customer management and interaction so that we deliver exactly what our customers expect and more – without exception. It’s a tall order to be able to consistently deliver service that exceeds expectations when we don’t often get to know the values and standards of the customers before they sit at our ‘metaphorical table to enjoy their meal’. Yet, it is increasingly important – actually vital for survival – that organisations invest in soft skills training so that their staff (considered by the customer to BE the face of the brand) are actually imbued with all the right knowledge and skills to be effective ambassadors of the brand! Motivational training will not only let your staff know you think they are worth investing in to be their best, for your benefit, yet your bottom-line will improve because of increased people performance. Your branding portrays YOU All communications via branding to your target audience convey values and promises – how, where and when we communicate dictates expectations – from the choice of colours of our branding, the typeface, the visual images and of course the taglines. If our customers are failed at the point of purchase through poor service or lack of knowledge (worse, sloppy, mediocre delivery) then it would be fair to say the entire Marketing proposition and investment has been futile!! When this happens, it shows gross lack of strategic business planning and management of your key resources – your people as assets. Remember that branding has to convey what can be delivered – all communication has to stack up to more than match the customers anticipated experience the second they walk through your door, make that call or however your business interacts with your customers… Business leaders must ‘review, review, review everything they do!’ When customers come into contact with representatives of your business – it is absolutely vital they deliver on the brand promise and this can only be guaranteed when staff themselves, feel valued, motivated and are well trained. You cannot expect anyone to portray enthusiasm and excitement and interest just because they have the job! It is undeniable that a demotivated workforce – who interacts with customers on a daily basis – will have a negative impact on your brand. Negative word of mouth PR can cause incalculable damage and worst of all – you don’t even get to hear it so you can’t rectify it! Especially with the internet and social media – word of mouth can spread across the globe in seconds – effectively destroying any brand. Is that a chance you are willing to take? How do you want your brand portrayed? If your branding suggests top quality, helpfulness, attention to detail, ‘we love our customers’, a broad knowledge-base, then this is exactly what you must deliver. Consistently. And your talent management mentoring program should be an on-going investment – a hard cash investment in what you believe in, and spend a large part of your waking day working in – your business. Cutting staff training now will cause long term damage. In times of cost-cutting and the need to protect profits, it would be so easy to cut staff training and to simply leave customer-facing staff to their own devices. How can this possibly be the right route to take? The representation of brand values cannot be left to chance. Too much else rides upon the successful execution at every step of the way. If you are relying on purchase conversion by an employee, then this area of your business should be the No.1 priority. Training is of course an essential part of this – but so too is listening to your employees, encouraging them to take personal responsibility/accountability, empowering them to be able to make decisions (from a trained knowledge base) and of course, communicating with them. Regardless of how large or how small a business is, staff need to know and understand what is expected of them and the parameters within which they must work and above all they need to be motivated. Failure to do this will simply result in dissatisfaction and resentment. Surely too great a risk to take?