How do you choose a college, or a dentist? What makes you return to a restaurant or a boutique? The product has to be good, of course, but unless a restaurant serves canned soup or a store offers shoddy clothes, your experience with the employees is what make you remember your visit. They are the brand ambassadors.
I spent the last four years checking out colleges with my two sons—in Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Oklahoma — and it was the people we remembered most. Each of the campus options were pretty, had fantastic security, award-winning libraries and fabulous fitness facilities, but only a few had brand ambassadors ready to help at every turn.
The perceived prestige of the school didn’t seem to be a factor as to whether employees valued their potential customer/student. Parking was non-existent at both a Midwest academic powerhouse, and a Southern commuter school, and security turned us away with no suggestions. The admissions officer sneered when we asked if there was place for student visitors to park, while visiting a giant state university with a very good football team. The attitude was clear– we don’t really care, and it isn’t our problem – negative brand ambassadors.
However, when we pulled up to Texas Tech, located on the dusty, flat plains of West Texas, the smiling security officer at the gate handed us a bright yellow pass that said PARK ANYWHERE to place in our car. “For all our visitors,” he explained, then gave us a map and pointed to our destination. Our first interaction set the tone for the entire visit. Signs directed students attending the information sessions, and employees were eager to help baffled parents and teens find their way to the seminars. A custodian walked me upstairs to the room I was hunting. Brand ambassadors.
My youngest son did choose Texas Tech and when we came to register, there was a mix- up with housing. The Student and Parent Relations Director (really – that is the title) picked up the phone, and the Housing Director solved the problem in 3 minutes. All were brand ambassadors.
Texas Tech has mastered something that many companies never do – they understand the importance of making every employee a valued brand ambassador, and they have empowered each of them to solve problems. The result is a culture that is positive, and solution – oriented. All are proud of their university, and want visitors to be proud of it, too. I have used this example with small and large retail companies—I hope they can learn from a university best known for football and tumbleweeds and now, outstanding brand ambassadors!!!