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How to Build Br and Reputation and Consumer Trust: And then Track it

Forbes’ 2013 report of the world’s most reputable companies was published in April and unlike previous years, did not cause a lot of  commentary. Perhaps this was because so little changed. BMW remained solidly in #1 position and only Apple and Volkswagen moved out of the Top 10.

The Reputation Institute does a great job of measuring the seven essential elements that make a business great in the eyes of the consumer. These elements are a combination of enterprise and product perceptions, the former perhaps surprisingly, trumping the latter in driving behaviours today. This shows that whilst product performance, services and innovation are important, it is the companies behind the br ands that influence a consumer’s final choice. 

As consumers’ dem and to know more about the company behind the br ands they buy, corporations have been obliged to become more transparent. In response, many companies now link their corporate names more strongly with their br ands, in an effort to build this consumer trust.

The report says that

For companies with strong reputations, 55% of consumers say they would definitely buy their products and 50% would be willing to recommend their products to others. For companies with weak reputations, these percentages fall to only 31% willing to buy and just 28% willing to recommend”

That’s a significant difference, which explains why companies are working so hard to build consumers’ trust in them and not just their br ands.

Measuring Reputation

So how do you win consumer trust and build a strong reputation? As the study mentions, it takes more than just great products. It takes local citizenship, leadership and workplace fairness to drive people’s admiration and trust. It is therefore important to measure these different aspects in any br and image and equity work you undertake.

Functional / Rational

The three essentials of br and valueAlthough the study mentioned that perceptions about the enterprise are more likely to drive behaviour, it is clearly essential to underst and consumers’ perceptions of your product and service offerings. Underst anding the functional benefits also helps you to develop and improve the performance and thus the product or service satisfaction of your customers. These metrics can also be used as input to renovation and innovation efforts, and tracked over time to ensure they do not decline. Since image changes are often a precursor to sales changes, these basic metrics should be your foundation.

Subjective / Emotional

As mentioned in the Forbes report, the emotional elements of corporate reputation are becoming more important. A Reputation Institute Executive is quoted as saying “we live in a time when word of mouth is the number one driver of sales and competitive advantage”. Discussing br ands and companies with others, whether online or in person, will impact what consumers think about them and thus also their purchase decisions.

Cultural / Relational

Many of the elements that are cited in the report as building reputation for an organisation come into this group. Things such as a company’s workplace image, citizenship and leadership all depend upon the culture of the (perceived) country of origin and its reputation, as well as the involvement of the organisation in the local community. The relationships it establishes with its consumers as well as its stakeholders will also play an important role in building the corporation’s reputation.

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These three aspects of image come together to cover the total perception and reputation of a br and or company so it is vital that all three areas are measured. As the Forbes report shows, the cultural and emotional aspects have now become more important than the rational benefits of a br and, in influencing br and choice and purchase decisions.

In closing, it should not be forgotten that these three areas are as important for br ands as for the company behind them. With more companies using their corporate name to further enhance their reputation and build trust with their consumers, the importance of measuring the images of both the company and its br ands cannot be over-emphasised. The impact of one on the other, as well as the verification that they are stronger together than when used independently,  also need to be established.

If you would like to  know more about measuring br and perceptions and images, check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/home/engagement

Need help in building your own corporate or br and reputation? Let us help you catalyze your customer centricity; contact us here

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com

Improving Customer Centricity in Hospitality

The title of this week’s post might surprise you. After all, the hospitality industry should be customer centric as it relies on satisfying its guests, no?

However, it has a lot it can learn from consumer packaged goods (CPG), as I shared recently with industry experts at a Faculty Day of one of the leading hospitality schools in Switzerl and. If you would like to learn what I revealed, then read on.

Both the hospitality and CPG industries have their customers at their heart. They both are founded on pleasing and hopefully delighting their clientele in the quality of the products and services they offer. However, as the world changes, customer dem ands increase and companies need to stay current if not ahead of these dem ands in order to ensure continued growth.

During my short presentation earlier this week, these are some of the points that I covered:

#1. From ROI / ROR to ROE

There has been a lot of talk recently on moving from a return on investment to a return on relationships. Whilst I agree with the importance of relationships, I believe that what we should be talking about is engagement, since honestly, who wants to have a relationship with a br and?! Br ands that have a high following and loyalty have found a way to consistently engage their fans and keep them coming back; to the br and, the product, their website, their communications. Coca Cola and Red Bull are great examples of this.

#2. Build Relationships with Strangers

Customer centricity means building relationships with strangersWhilst the hospitality industry has been based on serving and satisfying its guests, in todays connected world it also needs to consider people who are currently strangers – but could potentially become guests. These might be the friends of current guest, which for example the Rosewood Mayakoba resort in Mexico tries to attract. This wonderful hotel encourages its guests to photograph their experiences during their stay at the resort and then to post them on Facebook. This not only provides free publicity for the hotel, but also enables it to start engaging these friends, whom one might assume are potential clients since they are probably similar to their current guests.

#3. Value is more Important than Price

Having additional control in their lives today means that customers are re-evaluating what they are offered. They have higher expectations and are more discerning in their choices. They expect recognition at every touchpoint, even if in reality their peers influence their decisions more than does traditional marketing. The internet enables them to compare offers, so they are less interested in bundled propositions,preferring to decide what is best value for them personally for each element.

#4. Renovation is more than Buildings

Most CPG companies have annual targets for Innovation & Renovation, sometimes 30% or more of annual revenue. They also have mid-term innovation pipelines which can include partnerships in joint ventures with what were previously only competitors. These help each partner by building on their individual talents and enable them to develop better products and services. For hospitality, innovation can no longer be purely physical or rational; we need to consider more emotional and relational ways to satisfy. The Rosewood Mayakoba resort, already mentioned above, is one good example of this; the Art Series Hotels are another. Check out the latter’s recent ad to underst and better how they excel at underst anding their guests: Art Series Overstay Checkout, or why not review the picture posted on MayaKoba Facebook page?

#5. Loyalty is never really Won

One of the reasons that I believe we need to work on building engagement and in all industries, not just hospitality, is because customer dem ands are constantly evolving. What satisfied them yesterday can bore or even disappoint today. To acquire and retain our customers, we need to be constantly upgrading our products and services, so that they will be surprised and delighted. This means that loyalty is much less long-term than in the past and lifetime value is now measured in months or a few years, rather than in decades.

#6. Dialogue don’t just Communicate

In today’s connected world, customers want a say in not only what they consume, but also where, when and how they are marketed to. They want a say in what they buy and expect a rapid resolution to any queries or complaints. According to a recent Edison Research, 20% expect a company to answer to their social media post within 15 minutes, 42% within the hour! That means 24/7 monitoring for all organisations if we are not to disappoint are most engaged customers.

These are just six of the many ideas I shared during my presentation. If you are interested in seeing the full talk, you can find it on SlideShare here.

Are you struggling to improve your own customer centricity? Whatever people-facing industry you are in, we would welcome the chance to support and catalyse your efforts. Please check out our website for more information and contact us here.

C³Centricity uses images from  Dreamstime.com  and  Kozzi.com

10 Things your Customers won’t tell you

Customer centricity has many organisations buzzing in anticipation today. Everyone seems to be talking about it and saying how important it is to the success of their business. 

We are all trying to satisfy our customers as best we can, but all too often we continue to take our own perspective, instead of theirs. Here are ten things your customers wished you knew about them.

#1. I’m sometimes irrational

Don’t ask me why I do what I do. Sometimes I don’t even know why I do things myself! If you really want to underst and me, don’t ask me questions, be a part of my life to underst and things from my own personal perspective.

 

#2. I like gifts

Yes I know I won’t tell you I bought something because I saw it advertised, but the promise of a gift really does help. We never get enough gifts, especially as an adult. Even if I know it is not that special, it makes ME feel special on an otherwise ordinary day, so go on, give me an unexpected treat.

 

#3. I like advertising

Yes I know I tell you it doesn’t matter, but I really do like watching some ads on television. Especially if they make me laugh or tell me something I didn’t know, or entertain me. I will watch them and even more than once, so your br and name might just be in my head when I next go shopping.

 

#4. I don’t like being taken for a fool

I know prices are going up all the time, but don’t try and fool me by putting less and less in the pack whilst maintaining the same pack size and price. One day I’ll notice and I won’t be happy – at all!

 

#5. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver

Also, don’t try to fool me by promising something on the pack you can’t or don’t deliver. OK you need to make your product or service look appealing to me, but if you over-promise and under-deliver it will only make any negative feelings I might have become even stronger. Even if I buy once, it’s doubtful that I’ll buy again if you have disappointed me.

 

#6. I’m just not that into you

With very few exceptions that I am really passionate about, most products and services I buy satisfy a need that I am looking to fulfil. There are usually choices available to me, so don’t take my loyalty for granted. Every purchase is a decision for me, so make it easy by always satisfying my continually exp anding needs. If you don’t, one of your competitors can probably do just as good a job as you do.

 

#7. Don’t confuse me with statistics

Whether it is offering different pack sizes at differing prices, or calculating fat / sugar content by weight instead of calories, I check your maths with my smart-phone today. I believe I should get larger sizes for less money per gram, and lower fat / sugar content for less calorie intake. I will check your claims, so don’t play the numbers game with me.

 

#8. Be happy when I complain

If I complain about something it means I care. You should be happy that I care enough to actually tell you when I am dissatisfied. Make it easy for me to contact you, give me a choice of mediums and make damn sure you satisfy me completely when you listen and respond. I will not only take my business elsewhere if I am unhappy with your response, but will probably tell the whole world about it on social media too.

 

#9. Respect my ignorance

I like to know what you are offering me. What ingredients you use; where they come from; are they from sustainable sources; can I trust you? Give me the information I need, when I need it. Don’t bombard me with too much, or hide less positive things from me. Discuss with me as an equal, don’t talk down to me, after all I pay your wages.

 

#10. Be thankful I’m not satisfied

I know I may sometimes be a pain, but be thankful that I buy from you, tell you what I think of it and ask for more, better, larger, smaller etc etc. My need for constant change and improvements will challenge you to greater things and if you satisfy my rational needs and emotional desires, I might just stay loyal. Oh yes, and don’t believe everything I say; as I said in the beginning I can be irrational, so underst and not what I am saying, but what I mean by what I say.

What are your customers saying to you? Are you listening? No-one knows them better than they do themselves, even if they don’t know how to express what they are feeling / thinking in many cases. They might not always know what they want, but they can always tell you what they don’t want.

What have you heard lately? Please share the surprising comments your have listened to recently.

For more information on customers, how to connect and underst and them, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/

6 Secrets to Better Customer Relationship Building

Yesterday I read a wonderful post from Ted Rubin about IBM’s recent Global Summit, which used an unusual emotional stimulation to connect with the participants. It also illustrated how emotions can be used for customer relationship building as well as for prompting longer-term memory in potential customers. If that is what you too want to build, read on.

Ted mentioned that when it was first announced, that they were going to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s Longest H andshake Chain “You can imagine the reaction of the attendees. The first response was one of amazed disbelief. “Really?” And then, “Wow, this will be something to always remember as a group!” This is the sort of thing you naturally tell your kids about… and then tweet, and post to Facebook. The energy in the room and the excitement of the crowd were palpable.”

I still remember the excitement of attending a local cinema morning when I was 5 years old, that was sponsored by a major tea br and. I should mention that I grew up in Cornwall, where tea is the leading day-time beverage and it is served as strong as the women who make it and the men who drink it. Even today, I can sing the song we learnt word-for-word before the film was shown and find myself buying the br and to take back home whenever I go to the UK.

What both these companies got right, was their customer relationship building based upon a group experience of their potential customers at the respective events. In my case I don’t remember what film was shown and I am not sure what IBM services Ted will remember, but we will both surely remember the br and names at the heart of our memorable experiences.

How are you getting into the brain of your own potential customers and are you finding a permanent place in it? Earlier this week I presented to a group of professionals at The Marketing and Communications Loft in Geneva. We discussed the many ways there are to connect with our audiences today, but also the challenge of breaking through the clutter of everyone attempting to do the same. As this Infographic “What happens online in 60 seconds” shows, there is so much going on online already, that it is becoming harder to build this emotional connection, which is the only way to really resonate and build relationships with your potential customers. So here are some ideas on how to do so:

#1. The secret of Information

Underst and what information your customers really want, not just what you want to give them. This is the single most important thing to remember when building a br and website. Read this post from Anita Williams Weinberg of Poppermost Communications for some useful thoughts on this.

#2. The secret of Needs

Review where your customers are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and ensure you are using relevant arguments to resonate and build a relationship that matters to them for the level they are at currently. Talking status to someone who is struggling to feed their family is unlikely to get either a positive reaction, or recall!

#3. The secret of Polysensoriality

Realise that products alone are rarely building an emotional connection and need a point of differentiation. Adding sensorial experiences will link directly with consumers and ensure higher loyalty even when product performance is similar to a competitor’s. Cars and personal care products are two industries that already rely on these to resonate with their potential clients.

#4. The secret of Surprise

Another way of increasing the emotional connection of a br and is by adding appropriate services to your offer. Zappo’s is a great example of how to do this; their slogan “Powered by Service” and their habit of training all new hires in customer service, including time in their care centres, ensures all employees are truly customer centric and will go above and beyond their duty to satisfy their customers.

#5. The secret of Underst anding

Surprise your customers with an extra they weren’t expecting. Amazon was one of the first to propose other relevant articles to their customers whether they were merely browsing or after having purchased. The emotional connection their customers feel by being understood clearly outweigh any feelings of “Big Brother” watching, although this of course remains a risk, especially for other companies trying to replicate the service idea.

#6. The secret of Service

Welcome the chance to solve complaints. According to the results of research recently conducted by The Temkin Group, 89% of customers have switched to a competitor after just one negative experience and only around 4% will even complain. It therefore makes good business sense to treat complainers as providing you with the prized gifts that they are doing and to do everything you can to solve their issue. Go “over the top” in listening to them and resolving their issue to their complete satisfaction, not yours. A positive experience will be shared with friends and family, as well as on the web, as will a negative one, so make sure your company delivers the former.

I hope this has given you some food for thought on how to start building relationships with your customers, to gain a place in their hearts and minds through using emotional connections. If you have any other ideas, we would all love to hear them, so why not share them below?

For more information on how to better connect with your customers to build relationships, please check out our website: https://www.c3centricity.com/engage/

C3Centricity.com uses images from Dreamstime.com and Kozzi.com

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