This year the business climate has been one of the toughest we’ve ever seen and protecting your brand reputation has never been more vital. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, customer experience tops product and price and IS the most vital basis for competition in this day and age. 89% of companies agree with this statement! (Gartner).
Despite the pandemic, customers have surprisingly still expected to receive the same high levels of service if not more. Customers want the flexibility to self serve online and integrated web journeys are becoming more vital for businesses to deploy.
This article explores why it’s crucial to protect your brand reputation, technologies that can help to do so and real-life examples from stories during lockdown.
Why Protecting your Brand Reputation is Vital
Your brand is essentially who you are in the eyes of the customer. If you don’t protect what your brand stands for, then ultimately your influence in the marketplace, capital and sales will suffer.
The customer experience is becoming an increasingly key basis for competition.
Did you know…
- 90% of customers are influenced by positive reviews (Zendesk)
- 87% of organisations agree traditional experiences no longer satisfy customers (Accenture)
- 95% of customers tell others about a bad experience (Zendesk)
The stakes are just too high to not make a concerted effort to protect your brand.
Maintaining a brand is a fragile balance. It can take years to build; from tone of voice, to corporate social responsibility (CSR) to logos and colours. However, it can only take one quick tweet or Google review to create distrust amongst your stakeholders.
It’s made a more difficult task still to maintain a good brand reputation when there are so many hackers that publish fake news or controversial views, particularly from the social media accounts of big corporate companies.
Despite popular belief, maintaining a brand isn’t just the sole responsibility of the marketing department. It needs to be advocated from the top and lie at the core of your business culture, from the way your customer service agents answer the phone to how you handle a problem.
Key Practices for Protecting your Brand
The world is an abundance of choice for customers, which is partly why maintaining loyal ones is crucial. We’ve spoken about some of the key reasons why protecting your brand is vital, now we’re going to look at how you can protect it. Using some key real-life examples.
Learn from the Mistakes of Others
Not wanting to experience the same backlash faced by a couple of leading universities due to their handling of the pandemic, one of our customer’s a forward-thinking university decided to get on the front foot.
They set up a contact centre as a lockdown emergency helpline. Designed specifically for enquiries from nervous parents of students around the lockdown measures the University was taking.
It was an initiative driven by the marketing department, whereby 10 agents from IT and marketing utilised a Mitel contact centre to respond and answer enquiries. The response has been so positive the University is even considering next stages such as extending the service to other channels across digital like WebChat, SMS and social media. In addition, they have also thought ahead to other crisis scenarios that the contact centre could be applied as a point of contact to students and their parents.
The response taken by the University has meant onlookers can identify them as being responsible, professional and efficient, protecting their reputation.
Effectively Monitor Social Media
Social media is an extremely powerful tool. Unfortunately for businesses, it’s power can swing both sides of the pendulum. Proving to be both a positive and negative asset.
It’s often one of the first places disgruntled customers (and employees!) will take to rant about your business. This is why it’s so important to have an effective social media strategy for maintaining your brand reputation. From here, you’ll be able to do so by responding to customer enquiries, answering complaints quickly and ultimately engaging with your target market.
Social listening tools such as INBOX are becoming increasingly important to actively listen to stakeholders. You can utilise tools like this to effectively manage and respond to social media posts about your business.
INBOX can blend social media (and other digital channels) into single or multiple queues, organising them by business context with smart tagging and search filters to prioritise and categorise social media posts. It can even gauge the sentiment, so that you can prioritise solving customer issues with the right level of urgency.
Protect your Customer Data
Data is so valuable, but it can also be a curse. Protecting your customer data has never been more vital. Many high-profile brands like British Airways, Canva and Yahoo have been hit with data breaches. Not only are they costly (especially now, with GDPR), but they can also be harmful to your brand.
Especially now with employees working from home, being well informed about hackers using techniques such as phishing is crucial. It is essential to adhere to best practice advice and follow all the procedures in place to ensure your customer data is kept safe.
As society modernises, operating ethically is becoming increasingly important to customers. Values like treating employees with respect, sustainability and anti-racism are high on the priority list.
Previous trends like fast fashion are becoming less popular in favour of sustainable options that are kinder to the planet. This shift doesn’t just go for organisations that directly utilise raw materials to deliver their products and services. People care more about where their purchases come from and how they are made.
Joining up Customer Journeys
There is nothing worse than having to repeat yourself when you’ve already explained the same situation multiple times. All too often though, companies overlook the importance of joining up customer journeys across the growing number of channels to communicate and ensuring consistency.
If not done properly it can leave your customer feeling unvalued and ultimately harm how they see your brand. Whether they call you, contact you on social media or chat on WebChat, customers need to feel like you know exactly who they are.
Particularly as the experience moves online, more needs to be done to join up website journeys and retain a consistent experience wherever the location and whatever the journey.
Treating Employees with Respect
It’s not just how you treat your customers that can impact your brand image, the way you treat your employees also has an impact.
It is crucial to help engage your employees and give them a voice. This could be through internal feedback surveys to help gauge which areas the employee experience could be improved.
Or by implementing technology solutions that aid with rewarding and motivation. Something that’s even more vital during a time like lockdown where many customer service agents for example are working from home. Solutions like this help bring teams back together (even if they aren’t actually in the same room) and reduce feelings of isolation.
Doing as you say
Keeping promises is vital to ingrain into your culture. Your customers will respect transparency. Whether it is committing to resolving problems as early as possible, keeping in touch with customers at regular intervals and or continually working to improve their service.
Companies that don’t keep promises are often seen as unreliable or untrustworthy. Meaning customers are likely to go elsewhere and talk bad about your company to other people.
Protect your Brand from Being Tarnished
Protecting your brand reputation is becoming increasingly important in this challenging business climate. It could take just one bad interaction to tarnish your brand with all the outreach gained by new digital platforms like social media.
Joined up customer journeys and ensuring you’re able to observe what’s being said about your business is going to become ever more vital.
Find out more about the ways you can add more value to your CX, by downloading our white paper.