“Expect More from your Checking Account”

“15 Minutes Can Save you 15% or more”

“Consistent Low Prices”

Brand slogans and taglines are everywhere. Most companies have more than one such statement that pervades their advertising and messaging. Every one of these slogans conveys some promise to your customers, shareholders, and/or employees. These promises are not typically required by any law or regulation. They may not be mandated by any corporate policy. But they are promises. They are integral to your company’s strategy and reputation. Audit routinely relies on laws, regulations, and corporate policies to provide an auditable standard, but what about these taglines? Can they drive a standard? What would that look like?

Let’s consider a fictional organization with the tagline “Always there when you need us”. Suppose you are asked to perform an audit of a call center within that organization. Most auditors will have a standard set of items to review in call centers: FDCPA compliance, Information Security compliance, HR policies, exception handling, and so on. Plan in hand, you determine that you’ve got a well-managed, well-controlled call center – passing all these tests. You’re prepared to issue a glowing audit report when an auditor in the room asks: “Are we concerned that they only take calls from 8-6 Monday-Friday? Are those really all the times when the customer needs us?”

The room instantly becomes so quiet you could hear a pin (or jaw) drop.

Call center auditing has been performed for years. There are well-established standards for call centers. Policies that must be in place. Controls that must be effectively implemented. But as our brand-aware auditor points out, those general standards can only be a starting point. Not every well-managed, well-controlled call center is the right call center to fulfill your company’s promises.

Once an audit department comes to this realization, there is work to be done:

  1. Identifying brand promises to customers, shareholders, and employees
  2. Determining a process to map brand promises to auditable standards for both customer-facing and back-office functions
  3. Identifying and prioritizing brand promise-focused risks and controls
  4. Developing tests for key processes to ensure consistency with brand promises
  5. Determining the best ways to audit for brand promise – through integration with existing audits or through cross-functional reviews
  6. Refining audit reporting to call out risks to brand promise and to communicate them appropriately and in context

I’ve seen audit departments completely ignore this element of risk, and I’ve seen others build out entire teams focused on providing assurance that brand promises are kept. In the end, it comes down to your audit department’s brand promise. Is it “Doing the same thing since 1992” or “Expect more from your auditors”?