“Above all, you want to create something you are proud of. That’s always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing.“
This quote by business tycoon, Richard Branson, perfectly illustrates the type of attitude needed to build a strong brand reputation that truly matters. People who are proud of what they do give their all. And if you’re proud of your business’ ethos, products and services, chances are that your customers will be pleased with them too.
So, what do you need to build a business brand that even your mother would be proud of?
Mind your P’s and Q’s
You just have to look at the global markets to know how sentimental people really can be. It’s clear that it doesn’t take much at all to unsettle us. This is why ‘provide great service’ is generally top of the list for any business’ growth strategy. You’re as good as your customers think you are – and that’s that.
This means your product offerings need to stay relevant to changing needs and your services need to be consistently excellent. Clients need to feel that you’re skilled enough to get a job done, that your services are better than the competitions’ and they should believe you’re willing to go the extra mile for them.
There have been quite a few times, for example, when I’ve spontaneously walked into a popular restaurant to see if i’d be lucky enough to get a table. The best response I’ve ever received from a hostess went along the lines of, “Sorry sir, we’re fully booked, but let me phone this other restaurant down the road to see if they have space for you”. I was so impressed with her service that I went back to this restaurant the next week – this time having made a reservation – and was duly satisfied with the establishment’s menu and full service.
Own your shortcomings
Having effective damage control processes in place for when you get something wrong is vital for maintaining a positive brand reputation. Service recovery involves empowering your employees to resolve customer complaints by themselves. They need to know when a sincere apology is needed (to smooth ruffled feathers) and what they have the authority to offer dissatisfied customers to set things right.
Be sure to resolve customer complaints quickly. If this resolution lags, the (very good) reasons for this need to be communicated to the disgruntled customer as soon as possible to prevent heightening the offense.
It’s also important to remember your less vocal customers. They may choose to show their unhappiness by simply opting to never use your services again. This is why it’s important to solicit feedback from all your customers to find out if any service or product improvements are needed.
It never hurts to get external assistance when you need it. Brand reputation management is a service that many marketing, communication and PR companies now offer clients to grow their brand’s publicity. These companies would recommend things like optimising a business’ website, encouraging online customer reviews, leveraging social media and being listed in both on- and offline directories as some of the many ways to establish a positive brand image.
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