Having explored how to stand out from the crowd, build brand awareness and strengthen brand perception, this third instalment in our series on ‘The Power of Uniform’ explores how your corporate uniform can drive customer engagement.
As mentioned in our previous article, driving customer engagement through your people is more important than ever, with the explosion in digital, online and automated consumer interaction.
What is Customer Engagement?
In simple terms, customer engagement is the level of connection or communication between an organisation and its customers.
However, the forms it takes and the way it’s measured can vary from sector to sector, and from touchpoint to touchpoint. So when considering how customer engagement can be driven through your staff uniform, the possibilities are almost endless.
Before choosing a company or team uniform, consider what types of customer engagement it could drive. This could include the overriding goals of your organisation, or it could help a short term campaign or product launch. You may wish to drive face-to-face interaction between your customers and staff, or you might want to encourage customers to engage with you online.
Examples of How to Drive Customer Engagement
Customer engagement can be achieved through different approaches, depending on the type you are aiming to drive. Whilst you may increase sales of a product through more punchy, bold calls to action on a staff t-shirt, you may encourage visitors to ask a member of staff a question through the introduction of more trustworthy uniform colours.
Below we have given five examples of customer engagement goals, together with some recommendations of how you could achieve each of them. Whilst there is a plethora of ways to achieve the goal in hand through more subtle or more dramatic ways, these approaches are simple and proven to be effective.
- Goal: Increase sales of a product or service.
Suggestion: Introduce a bold, quickly-consumed call-to-action on the clothing, highlighting the availability and unique benefits of the product or service. To measure the impact, introduce a promotion code that only appears on uniform, which customers must reference to receive a discount or special offer.
- Goal: Increase charity donations.
Suggestion: Place an emotive graphic or phrase on your uniform, to educate your visitors by visually demonstrating the positive impact of your organisation’s work. Make it simple for people to donate, such as ‘TEXT 54321 to donate £5’ to prompt immediate action.
- Goal: Improve customer experience by inviting them to ask a member of staff for help.
Suggestion: Ensure your choice of garments and branding make staff stand out from the crowd, so customers can identify your team. Differentiating the uniform between teams can help distinguish customer-facing personnel from other members of staff. Use colours that encourage openness and elicit trust, such as blue or green. Include conspicuous text to inspire interaction, such as ‘Ask me for help’.
- Goal: Reduce the demand for in-store employees by encouraging visitors to use digital alternatives.
Suggestion: Inform consumers where they can purchase a product or access support online or via an app. To add a bit of fun, print QR codes on your uniform and actively encourage customers to scan them!
- Goal: Boost your social media campaigns by inspiring customers to follow and engage with you online.
Suggestion: Use garment branding to publicise your company’s social media handles, and display hashtags to promote a campaign or trending topic.
How Others Use Uniform to Improve Customer Engagement
There are many major brands who have redesigned their staff uniform with the objective of increasing customer engagement. Whilst some, such as ASDA, have done this in subtler, less costly ways, others have introduced entirely new uniforms, such as the National Trust.
ASDA had the goal of encouraging customers to ask their 180,000 staff for help when in store. Whilst more dramatic changes to their uniform may have achieved this goal, ASDA rolled out name badges for each of their customer-facing staff; a low-cost and easily implemented addition. This simple change instantly made members of staff more approachable, and their communications with customers more personal.
The National Trust, who are a widely-respected institution, carried out a more extensive alteration to their uniform. Each of their properties had a selection of base garment colours to choose from, which could then be branded with National Trust logos and text from a large palette of colours. This enabled each property to develop a unique local identity, while remaining aligned with the charity’s core brand. Visitor experience and other customer-facing personnel used colours strategically, to encourage connection and engagement with visitors.
Both ASDA and the National Trust achieved similar goals through very different ways. This highlights the powerful yet flexible role uniforms can play in driving customer engagement in any organisation.
Some Key Points to Remember
Remember to ensure that a focus on driving customer engagement doesn’t inadvertently impact other areas negatively. It’s vital that your micro-objectives all work together to benefit each other.
Points to consider when driving customer engagement through staff uniform:
- When being creative with your messaging and colours, don’t allow inconsistency to creep in which could reduce brand recognition. There’s a difference between making calculated tweaks to emphasise a brand or support a campaign, versus harming your brand by deviating from your established corporate image.
- Visual or textual messages featured on your uniform must align with your organisation’s tone of voice, otherwise brand perception could alter from touchpoint to touchpoint.
- Driving increased customer engagement should only be done if the necessary resources are in place to handle the increased demand, without which you risk damaging customer experience.
As demonstrated by the above examples, uniforms can be utilised very effectively to boost customer engagement. When doing so, however, you must consider the impact any changes could have on other objectives. What’s more, anything you implement must be simple enough to require minimal thought on behalf of the customer.
The rewards for increasing customer engagement are substantial. Not only can they help drive short term sales, should that be the objective, but they can also help towards achieving long term goals, such as reducing the demand on physical retail stores or providing improved customer service.
In the next article in this series, we’ll be exploring how employee engagement can be improved through a strategically crafted and implemented uniform. As the final article of the series, this will bring together each previous article to unleash the full power of uniform.