Whom Do You Serve?

I received an interesting insight last night about Human Resources that I think may apply to just about everything we do in marketing as well.

I pointed out to an HR professional (who shall remain nameless) that his/her job must be hard because no one really trusts HR. I meant it mostly as a joke, but for a moment this person paused and got introspective, then said a truly insightful thing:

"I don't think there are a lot of people in my field who would admit to this, but I think people distrust HR because in most organizations HR serves management first, rather than the associate."

How painfully true is this?!?

HR is a divided house. Ostensibly they are there to serve the needs of the employee, but in reality it is HR that shows up with the manager to deliver a pink slip. They work for management first and foremost and that makes it difficult to present themselves as a trusted confidante or benefit to the employee.

But here's the kicker: The same can be said about brands and marketing.

If accounting has a prime function of maximizing bonuses for management and customer service is all about resolving complaints quickly to get the customer off the phone, why should the customer believe marketing when it tells them, "We're all about you!"

I've said for months on this blog, that every function within a company needs to serve a single identity. A job may not seemingly touch a customer and it may have many tasks not associated with the customer, but it still needs to serve the brand vision that is going out to the customer first and foremost. And this is especially true today, when the ubiquity of customer commentary and reviews can have monumental consequences. Every task needs to serve the brand first and foremost. If it doesn't it becomes a weak link that may break the whole operation under pressure.

So while we talk about customer touch points, what about the points touching those touch points? Is the sales associate being empowered by HR with the tools needed to be a solid example of the brand? Is the IT department equipping the smartest resources for helping that brand be communicated? It's all important to the identity of the company. Cause in the end, the company is there to serve the customer. If that's not part of your brand vision, then you have even bigger problems than this post can address.

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