Corporate Eye

Employees know URLs better than their CEOs name?

phone question44% of receptionists on the main switchboard of the FTSE 100 companies don’t know the name of their CEO?

I find the results of a recent survey of FTSE 100 companies carried out by MoneyPenny really quite astonishing (via Brand Strategy Guru).

Researchers went mystery shopping across the biggest companies in the country, calling the main UK switchboards of the FTSE 100 to ask each company 10 questions over 4 weeks. They evaluated time to answer, friendliness of answer, clarity of information, welcome received, whether it was a human or automated response, how knowledgeable the respondent was, and overall satisfaction with the call.

Now some of these criteria are quite subjective, but over the course of many calls, you’d soon be able to compare companies. And for the most part, the responses were fine; most companies came out as pretty average (the full results are available and an opportunity to compare your own business performance with the FTSE100). But some of the detail is very curious; the poor performance of the retail sector overall, for example – though a few individual companies put in an excellent performance.

I think it is particularly interesting that more people could provide the web address of the corporate site (87%) than could name the CEO (56%) or provide the postal address (86%).

It was peak holiday season, but surely it can’t be that the switchboards were all staffed by temps (and even if they were, the temps could have been given a crib sheet), or that there had been a mass upheaval in the personnel at the top of the organisation? Chief Executives don’t come and go that fast…

We’ve discussed employees as spokespeople before; these front-line staff really are brand ambassadors, and deserve to be given training and resources to provide the answers to some of the most likely questions that they’ll have to field.

We’ve also pointed out that the most common reason to visit the corporate website is to check contact details. Having a visitor-friendly, welcoming website with easy-to-find phone numbers is great, but if the welcome received when the visitor does make contact doesn’t match, then the difference will be starkly apparent.

And it is exactly this kind of mismatch that makes people see the corporate website as spin and marketing.

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