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The (magical) power of empowerment

What if companies were living organisms like any others? Indeed, the beings that make them up (employees) and those around them (prospects, customers) have a common heart that beats and that we must learn to listen to and cherish in order to engage and build loyalty!

Expert opinion

Written by Frank Legré

Whether employee/applicant or customer/prospect, expectations of the company/brand are now converging in a quest for empowerment. This unprecedented relationship between equals is the result of digital technology and social networks. It's a context where horizontality and authenticity are paramount if you are to be credible and therefore trustworthy. Beyond words, we need proof, we need to experience the brand promise.

In the age of the experiential, we have moved from vertical one-to-one communication, where the brand is ‘in majesty’, to horizontal one-to-many communication, where it has to put itself at the level of each of its customers, whether internal or external. Social networks are a forum and a sounding board: if the experience with the brand is not satisfactory, anyone can express it and damage its e-reputation. This new situation has considerably altered the power relationship between brands and their audiences.

They want to hear something real, something they can commit to, a story, values that they may or may not agree with, and which, if they do, they are prepared to commit to by becoming ambassadors.

So it's crucial to take care of the customer journey and the employee journey at every moment of truth! Image, product or even work are no longer necessarily the end-all and be-all when it comes to making a difference. In addition to the need to evolve in a fluid, ‘seamless’, easy, even intuitive environment, the quest for meaning, ethics and quality relationships is growing. To meet these needs, we need to rely on a ‘digital-human’ hybrid. New technologies provide remarkable resources: autonomy, time savings, greater efficiency, unlimited access to knowledge... All attributes conducive to empowerment and which it is essential to cultivate to stimulate customer and employee commitment.

How can we do this? By encouraging people to take the initiative, by taking feedback into account in a ‘peer-to-peer’ approach, and by genuinely valuing and considering the audience. People won't remember exactly what they've been told, but they'll never forget what they've been made to feel. So customers, like employees, choose whether or not to include a particular brand/company in their circle of attention, consideration and trust on the basis of their ability to create a bond. The companies that will stand out will be those that are sovereign and complementary to new technologies, making them not an end but a means to putting the quality of relationships first. In terms of management, this means daring to say ‘yes’ to involve and empower customer relations teams, trusting them so that they can earn the trust of customers who will feel listened to and recognised: a virtuous and engaging circle. It is also a share of responsibility that we must learn to take... So it's only a short step from ‘consumer-actor’ to ‘collaborator-actor’! This phenomenon is based on trust. Trust that has to be given and earned!