Those companies simply paying lip-service to the adage that Customers Come First and the Customers are always right need to embrace change head on – or suffer the consequences. Whatever else is said about our current economic climate – it cannot be denied that “Customers are now King” and in times when we need to retain our existing customers and encourage new ones. It is absolutely essential that the bar is raised and we deliver exactly what our customers expect and more – without exception. Buying decisions – conscious and sub-conscious – have started well before direct contact is made – once an idea has materialised to buy a product or service, expectations have been formulated insofar as pricing, service and quality are concerned. These decisions have been reached through their experience or knowledge of the brand – and on those occasions where service is not at the levels expected, it would be unlikely to convert into a sale. The communication to customers of values and promises are all conveyed in the branding – how, where and when we communicate dictates expectations – from the choice of colours, the typeface, the visual images and of course the taglines. If the customers are failed at the point of purchase through poor service or lack of knowledge then it would be fair to say the entire Marketing proposition has been futile. When customers come face to face 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 and motivated. You cannot expect anyone to portray enthusiasm and excitement and interest just because! It is undeniable that a demotivated workforce – who interacts with customers on a daily basis – will have an impact on your brand. If your branding suggests top quality, helpfulness, a broad knowledge-base, then this is exactly what you must deliver. In times of cost-cutting and the need to protect profiles, 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 the 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 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, empowering them to be able to make decisions 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?