Capturing the hearts and minds of employees
The quality of customer relationships is at least partly determined by how the customer is treated by employees at the ‘marketing-customer interface’, argues Charles Nixon, master at Cambridge Marketing Colleges
By understanding and meeting the needs of employees, organisations can ensure that in turn these employees can meet external customers’ needs more effectively. How well this works depends on, among other things, the culture of the organisation, the health of the organisation, the nature of the service or product provided and the level of interest of the customers themselves.
Internal stakeholders will be concerned about security of income, a safe and comfortable working environment, recognition for their efforts and so on, but equally important is a sense of identity with the brand they represent. Internal marketing is about aligning the hearts and minds of employees through dialogue and engagement.
The objective of most internal marketing is to achieve greater levels of affiliation between employees and the organisation as well as with each other. Put simply, marketing techniques can help to motivate staff and increase the level of ‘involvement’. Staff need to buy into the brand values and ‘live them’.
As with external communications, an audit of current performance is an essential first step in planning. This can be very simple, consisting of identifying the key internal players, the person or group responsible for communicating with them, expectations of contact and how well the communications are currently being carried out. At Cambridge Marketing College, this is among the things we teach on our Integrated Communications module.
A strong lead from the top is important if internal resources are to be effectively motivated and their efforts co-ordinated. Open, frequent, motivating and structured communication is key. Engaging people emotionally through storytelling is often effective. Conveying a sense of purpose through a clear mission and a compelling future vision are important, while authenticity is now essential.
Developments in employment such as portfolio careers, job sharing and zero-hours contracts can make it more difficult to capture the hearts and minds of employees.