The COVID-19 pandemic placed pressure on online merchants to be transparent about how they were prioritizing safety with their products, customers, and employees. Amidst the public health crisis, retailers began to share stories of how they were keeping their supply chain safe, contributing to relief efforts, and reshaping their commitments to social and environmental issues. This brought a unique opportunity for retailers to build their brand identity in an online marketplace where consumers are increasingly buying directly from brands that they identify with. As companies shape their brand identity by focusing on storytelling, it’s important to ensure that these messages are communicated consistently, both internally and externally.
Precautions and setbacks caused by the pandemic led retailers to incorporate services like contactless delivery, payment programs, and increased accessibility of services – these accommodations showed care and consideration for their customers’ health and financial well-being. Brands that effectively aligned these new services with a core value system were able to build trust with their customer base, who are increasingly calling on brands to act in their best interest in times of crisis. The proportion of customers who choose to buy from socially responsible brands has multiplied in the recent past, now at 64 percent, according to a study published by McKinsey.
Internal teams are the ones who must ultimately sell these messages, whether they’re creating marketing materials or talking to customers. The best ideas for customer experience should come from the frontline – the people who are in contact with customers every day, who are delivering these experiences. Yet, according to a Gallup survey, less than a third of employees believe in the purpose and core values of their employer’s brand. When these principles are not effectively communicated, they can create mixed messages and disconnects, leading to confusion and apathy among employees.
Larger companies especially struggle with this, as teams tend to work separately, be spread out, and may struggle to communicate with each other. To create brand alignment among its 70k employees across 79 countries, BP aimed to adopt a “write once, publish anywhere” approach to shaping their corporate mission. They did this by investing in a headless CMS platform through a partnership with Arc XP, in which BP was able to combine four CMS platforms into one to ensure consistent messaging across the company. This included both internal and external platforms – their CMS, their email content through dotdigital, hundreds of various internal company sites, and their internal company chat through Yammer.
“Wherever they want to publish it – Yammer, social media, etc. – can be done in one place,” Ben Jefferies, Head of Global Publishing at BP, explained. “All I have to do now is push a different button and it will go into the news part of my website.” With the ability to publish both internal and external content faster, BP was able to get their brand messaging out into the world more seamlessly – consolidating their CMS platforms led to a 75 percent reduction in time to publish content. In doing this, BP equipped their employees to seek ways to improve customer and client experiences, solidify BP’s corporate image, and respond quickly to new events and opportunities.
The best ideas are often generated on the frontline—the people in contact with clients, customers, and media every day, who are responsible for delivering the experiences that shape a company’s brand identity. Empowering employees to have a stake in the brand is a form of equitable treatment that leads to increased employee alignment with brand missions. This goes hand-in-hand with growing consumer interest in a company’s sense of social responsibility and community care – in fact, many consumers now make purchasing decisions based on whether a business treats its employees well.
According to a report on shifts in customer experience during the pandemic, integrity is now the most important pillar in customer experience. Integrity is shaped by factors such as company morale, corporate social responsibility, community engagement, and whether a company is generally viewed as positive among a customer’s peers. In building this transparency, brands need platforms to tell their stories – whether it’s laying out brand identity and boosting morale, making big donations to charities, or disclosing supply chain processes. In shaping this brand identity, it’s also very important that brands can place internal communication in as high of importance as external communication.
To learn more about how a single platform can help a brand tell their story consistently both internally and externally, watch the webinar, “Create Better Digital Experiences for Your Customers With Headless and Hybrid CMS.”