Who are your stakeholders? Does your business provide products or services directly to consumers? Or does your business fall into the B2B category? It really doesn't matter when it comes to answering the stakeholder question because, bottom line, all of your employees are representatives of your brand - and they need to provide service to all of your stakeholders, whether those stakeholders are internal or external.
This issue took front and center stage as a result of a recent friend's experience. My friend is a college professor and was visiting her college campus the week before the fall semester. She planned to get her faculty parking pass on a specific day - a day that was advertised in a mass email sent to all faculty.
She went to the office where faculty parking passes were available and knocked on the closed and locked door. A couple of things to keep in mind: first, many departments keep their doors closed and sometimes forget that the doors are locked, and second, my friend went to the office during the scheduled hours for the distribution of parking passes.
So my friend knocked on the door. No answer. A couple of other people knocked on the door - and again, no answer. A few minutes passed, and those other people left. And then, guess what? The door quietly opened, and the lady in charge of the parking passes walked out. When my friend asked if she could get her parking pass, the lady said she was tired and going home - and then said, "Come back tomorrow!"
Clearly, this lady didn't understand that her job was to provide parking passes to faculty during a set time period. But more importantly, her job was to deal with internal stakeholders, in this case, faculty members. And she definitely needed an attitude adjustment.
When we think of colleges and their stakeholders, naturally, we think of students. But my friend's experience serves as an excellent reminder that stakeholders appear in different forms. In the college scenario, stakeholders can be students, faculty members, teaching assistants, staff, donors, parents of students, etc.
No matter how they appear, ALL stakeholders deserve to be treated professionally and courteously. Otherwise, no matter how you view them or define them, you could lose them.
GUEST POST BY DEBBIE LASKEY, MBA
Debbie Laskey has 15 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree with a concentration in International Marketing and Management. She developed her diverse marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry. Currently, Debbie is a consultant to small businesses and non-profits in California, and specializes in brand marketing, social media, employee engagement, leadership development, and customer experience marketing. Since 2002, Debbie has served as a judge for the Web Marketing Association’s annual web award competition and has been recognized as one of the "Top 100 Branding Experts" to follow on Twitter.