A recent Gallup survey found that most companies are failing to make good on their agreements. Only half of the almost 18 million customers Gallup surveyed strongly believe that the companies they do business with always deliver on what they promise.
A brand promise is an agreement between a company and its customers and the unique statement of what a company offers, what separates it from its rivals and what makes it worthy of customers' consideration.
Brand promises matter to customers and Gallup research shows that they have a profound impact on business outcomes. The highest-performing companies in Gallup's database deliver on their brand promise 75 percent of the time, according to their customers. These companies have greater levels of customer engagement, enabling them to surpass their competitors in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth (this aligns with Havas Media Group’s recent finding that companies with a higher ‘return on meaning’ enjoy 46 percent higher share of wallet than low performers).
The Gallup analysis also notes that only 38 percent of customers are “fully engaged,” meaning they have a strong emotional attachment to a company. They are the customers that go out of their way to locate a favored product or service, and won't accept substitutes. Fully engaged customers are typically a company's most valuable and profitable customers.
However, the majority of customers (62 percent) aren’t fully engaged. They are indifferent or actively disengaged, and are open to switching brands. The analysis suggests that companies that can create strong brand promises and consistently deliver on them are better equipped to gain larger market shares.
According to Business Insider, brand promises fail for several reasons: They may be too similar to competitors, they may be out of line with the company's greater purpose and culture, or they may be unclear and uninteresting. Gallup claims that most companies don’t deliver on their brand promise because they overlook their employees.
A company’s brand promise depends on its employees and their ability to consistently act on it. Gallup's research revealed that most employees aren't the brand ambassadors their companies need them to be. Only 27 percent of employees strongly agreed that they always deliver on the promises they make to their customers.
Employee actions can be disconnected from their company's brand promise. For example, a pharmacy employee may tell a customer that a prescription will be ready in 10 minutes when the wait will really be 30 minutes. Or a business-to-business manufacturer may promise to deliver construction supplies to its customer by a specific date and then fail to communicate when those supplies end up on back order. In both cases, these employees believed they were fulfilling the brand promise, but they only ended up frustrating their customers.
The challenge many companies have in engaging their customers has more to do with their workplace than with the marketplace. Business Insider suggested the following questions to help leaders and managers objectively audit their brand promise:
- Which promises are easy to keep?
- Which promises are harder to keep?
- Which promises are customer-focused?
- Which promises define the brand?
- Which promises are gratuitous and could be eliminated?
- Which promises differentiate your brand from its competitors?
These questions help focus the promise and make it unique, as well as creating promises that employees can consistently deliver.
BI recommends that companies provide employees with ongoing tools, education and support. Front-line managers, in particular, should discuss the brand promise with their employees and help them understand how to deliver on it. Delivering on some promises will require employees to partner with coworkers from other teams and departments.
Gallup resolved that companies must focus their long-term efforts on gaining a deep understanding of their current and potential customers' needs and how they can deliver on those attributes. Companies that invest in analytics can gain an edge over their competition.