Does your school have a brand ambassador program, guidelines, or annual training? Many companies who place a strong emphasis on customer service know that this starts by making sure that their employees, whether they be administration or front line, have to be completely bought in to their company’s mission. Starbucks is one company that believes strongly in making sure its employees represent the coffee company’s brand.
Make It Your Own: Joseph Michelli, author of The Starbucks Experience, wrote about how Starbucks’ strategies and philosophies can be whittled down to five key principles. One of those principles, “Make it your own”, is focused on finding ways to engage employees by allowing them to personalize experiences at Starbucks through living out
Savor and Elevate: Starbucks doesn’t just want its employees to like their jobs, the company wants its employees to love coffee making. Michelli, in his other book on Starbucks, called Leading the Starbucks Way, discusses how Starbucks not only trains employees on how to make coffee, but also how coffee is procured, roasted and brewed, so that employees understand why coffee tastes as it does and why different types of coffee have varying tastes.
Starbucks Annual Conference: Each year, the corporation hosts a conference for its store managers (about 9,600 people), that costs the company over $35 million. Starbucks shows off actual coffee trees, information on the coffee production process, a leadership lab, and improve actors playing out the parts of challenging barista experiences. Creating an experience for your employees where no expense is spared shows the employees just how much Starbucks cares about them.
Lessons for Your School:
·Educate your front line employees about up and coming information on campus. Was there a recent announcement regarding a new building being constructed, a new professor being hired, or a new All American being named? Don’t assume that everyone on campus knows this information. Send updates to your front line employees to make sure they are aware of what’s happened on campus, and what is about to happen (athletic events, theater performances or academic talks). Having employees who are able to give a quick update from campus, or answer a question without transferring a donor is something that can go a long way when it comes to loyalty.
·Ask for feedback from all levels of your institution. Great ideas come from everywhere. Have an easy way for employees to give feedback, and make sure to ask for it. When you do get feedback that you act on, share that broadly. It will encourage more employees to provide feedback in the future.
·Brainstorm across levels and departments. Often, departments host a number of regular meetings, and just give updates. Take time in these meetings (or take the entire meeting) to discuss a strategic challenge, a weakness in the organization or an opportunity. Again, great ideas come from everywhere, plus employees will feel more engaged and bought in to the organization if they feel that they have input into the future of the organization.
·Provide development opportunities. Resources are always scarce for annual giving and alumni relations departments. However, make sure to give development opportunities to all employees. Some employees may want to go to a conference. Others may want to take a class at your school, but there may be employees who just want to learn a new software, or take a webinar. Find out what everyone’s interests are, and even if you can’t fulfill on all of these requests each year, try to make sure to share the wealth.
Leveraging your employees as ambassadors and donors:
Once you have employees who are acting as ambassadors of your institution, are there ways to turn this pride into fundraising action?
Giving this gift served multiple purposes. It provided a functional gift to those who donated. It provided those who donated with a way to show just how much they care about their school. And, it provided the school with a way to make public the act of donating for staff members. Staff giving is a hard nut to crack, partly because many staff members don’t believe it is necessary to make a donation when already working for the school. By providing these lanyards, this made it very obvious that there are a lot of staff members that give.
How can you leverage your proudest staff members, to give them an opportunity to show off their love for their school?
How can you ensure staff members, especially those speaking with alumni on a day-to-day basis, are matching those alums’ passion for their school, with their own passion?