Monday, July 22, 2019

How Closely Aligned Are Branding, Customer Experience, and Employee Experience?

Twitter serves as an amazing water cooler in today’s social media era, and thanks to Twitter, I met Don Shapiro because we share a passion for marketing and also see the value of introducing a Chief Employee Experience role into the C-Suite. We recently discussed a variety of branding, leadership, and employee experience topics, and highlights follow below Don's bio.

Meet Don Shapiro. Don is the President of First Concepts Consultants, Inc., advisors on leadership, strategy, marketing, sales, culture, and alignment. He is a co-author of The Character-Based Leader and is currently writing a book on customer value entitled, Stealth Value. Don’s high energy, fun, and interactive way of speaking has thrilled thousands of audiences about his discoveries. Learn more about him on Linkedin (, on Twitter (, and his First Concepts website (

QUESTION: Please explain the following statement: Your culture is your brand.
DON SHAPIRO: What makes a brand memorable and helps drive growth? That takes branding. But, branding and brand awareness are two different things. Branding is where the customer experience is married to the brand. Only your people can make that happen. It is through the culture of your organization that you deliver the customer experience, which shapes what the brand means to the customer.

QUESTION: You recently Tweeted, "Managers hire the past. Leaders hire potential." Can you please elaborate the experience or experiences that resulted in that excellent commentary?
DON SHAPIRO: I had the good fortune to start my career with Lawry’s Restaurants, a brand that’s still going strong after 96 years. Lawry’s has historically achieved the highest employee retention rate in the restaurant industry due to their way of hiring, training, and leading their people. After leaving Lawry's, I discovered that managers and executives in other businesses didn’t do things like they did. That comparison over many decades led to this Tweet.

TWEET THIS: Managers hire the past. Leaders hire potential. -@DonShapiro1 #EmployeeExperience #EmployerBranding #BrandExperience

QUESTION: You have expertise in a variety of areas, so what three pieces of advice can you share for sales and marketing departments to work in tandem rather than at odds?
DON SHAPIRO: And you don’t want me to write a book?! Here’s how you build a bridge of understanding.
1. Get involved with the other departments on a regular basis. Walk in their shoes. When your marketing efforts grow out of a deep understanding of what other functions do, they will appreciate and respect you and your team.
2.  See all the other departments in your organization as your customer. Focus on how you can serve them better. Yes, even the finance department!
3. Invite individuals from other departments to spend time with your sales and marketing team. Make them feel a part of your team.

QUESTION: How can a President/CEO become an organization's number one brand ambassador?
DON SHAPIRO: Walk the talk with enthusiasm. The CEO has to become an organization’s best salesperson and PR person. CEO's have to learn how to sell the brand and message everywhere they go. And internally, they have to do the same to show their people how much they believe in the brand and believe in the employees who make the brand what it is. That inspires employees to follow the CEO’s model.

QUESTION: There is much buzz today about organizations adding a new C-Suite position, the Chief Customer Officer. This demonstrates that organizations want all employees to create an excellent customer experience. However, there should be another C-Suite position called the Employee Experience Officer. Based on your expertise in these areas, what are your thoughts?
DON SHAPIRO: I’ve been a huge fan of the Chief Customer Officer position for decades. With my deep experience on the people side and C-Suite, I believe that the employee experience is the role of the Chief People Officer. Most organizations don’t have one yet because they haven’t made the leap from human resources to people as a strategy. The key to this is that the CPO must report directly to the CEO. That would make the employee experience a top priority.

QUESTION: One of my favorite leadership quotes is from author and consultant Mark Herbert (@NewParadigmer on Twitter): "Leadership doesn't require you to be the smartest person in the room. It requires you to block and tackle for others." What does this quote mean to you?
DON SHAPIRO: Everything! Leaders help their people to win at work, at home, and in the community. Leaders serve their people with humility. Our role as a leader is to serve the people we lead so that they can realize their full potential and do their best. We walk beside and behind them. When we’re out front, we’re driving a bulldozer to clear a path for them. When we do this, our people produce great results.

TWEET THIS: When (leaders) are out front, we're driving a bulldozer to clear a path (for our employees). When we do this, our people produce great results. -@DonShapiro1 #LeadershipTip #EmployeeExperience

My gratitude and appreciation to Don for sharing his inspiring insights on my Blog.

Image Credit: Don Shapiro and Hubspot.

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