In the age of social media and the digital marketplace, it’s more challenging than ever for a brand to be seen as unique – as a Customer First Branding shaped in the image of its customers. Establishing and maintaining a strong brand voice is the undervalued key that takes a business to the next level. It’s not just about clever and unique marketing campaigns that bring in new customers and get you those initial sales, it’s about shaping the public image of your company so that your customers feel that they have a stake in the way things are done. A modern brand is authentic, it’s built on a strong foundation of customer experience, and it’s constantly evolving in order to make sure its product or service is like no other.
In the analog era, customer experience and interactions were limited to advertisements, direct mail, phone calls and face to face interactions. However, in the digital era the breadth of these interactions has increased exponentially. There’s no limit to ways in which a company can interact with its customers, and this makes keeping an authentic and consistent company voice ever more challenging. The reality is that while consumers have grown accustomed to viewing media across a plethora of devices, many businesses are still internally segmented. This results in inconsistent consumer experiences and interactions with the company. For example, consider the following three branches of any company:
- Customer Service
- Digital Marketing
- Sales Force
Customer service often has a specific script which they are trained to follow to ensure that regardless of who answers the call, the customer has a similar experience. Typically, these scripts are end-goal oriented, such that once a problem is identified the steps followed in the interaction are done to solve that specific problem as quickly as possible. While this is efficient and goal oriented, it often lacks the personalization needed in order to communicate the voice of your brand.
Digital marketing teams are focused on upping the click rate for each of their advertisements. The more customers that view their website and products, the more opportunity there is to increase sales. While this goal is universal, often digital marketing teams resort to catchy slogans and eye-catching visuals to increase the click rate rather than focusing on the public image and voice of the company.
Lastly, consider the front-line sales force team members that meet with potential clients face to face. The key attribute of any successful salesperson is being adaptable to their client, focusing in on what their goals are, and showing how the product or service they are selling meets those goals. Again, though this is the reality of sales work, it’s another facet of any company that often lacks the consistent personalization and clear voice of the company’s brand.
Maintaining Company Customer First Branding in the Digital Era
There are three questions that your company needs to answer in order to build Customer First Branding and maintain the image and voice of your company in the digital marketplace.
1. Is your company focused on getting people in the door or getting them to invite their friends as well?
Earlier in this article we discussed things like click rate and other factors that are specific to a given department, each unique to their individual role. This is where the question of your company’s focus comes into play. Are you trying to maximize your one-time sales? Or are you trying to develop a brand that earns the best and most cost-effective advertising along with word of mouth and customer recommendations?
Think about those items that you carry or use every day whether it be your smartphone, watch, or shoes. Chances are that before you bought these items you were in some way directed to them by a friend or family member. This is where the psychological conundrum of business occurs for any growing company – the battle between importance of immediate sales and long-term reputation. In order to build and maintain a strong company voice, it’s crucial that each product or service you sell and each interaction your team has with your clients has that long-term reputation in mind.
2. Data, Data, Data… Do you have it and how can it help you understand your customers?
From entrepreneurial businesses to Fortune 500 companies, the one word uttered in every meeting from entry level employees to the top executives is Data. By this point, you and your colleagues are probably familiar with the most common methods of collecting data. The most commonly employed method that you likely not only use but have also seen in the products you buy each day would be the survey with a chance to win a prize! Assuming your company has already mastered the art of collecting massive amounts of data on your customers, the next – and admittedly most challenging – step is using that data to learn about your customers and help your company evolve.
This is where the field of Data Science comes into play. The goal of Data Science is to bridge the gap between statistical analysis and deployable business intelligence solutions. It’s routine to look at sales data and determine which products or services are most profitable, but has your company considered consumer feedback on your employees? For example, one proven relationship to consider is the correlation between consumer satisfaction with customer service representatives and consumer retention rates. The art of “making data speak” in order to drive your business forward is challenging, but its potential rewards are limitless.
3. Are your employee groups islands unto themselves, or is there clear cohesion in your organization?
Earlier in this article we discussed the inherent separation that occurs within the various departments that make up any growing corporation, each with its own specific mission that is essential to the company as a whole. While this is initially unavoidable and a “necessary evil,” it’s never too late to revamp the way those individual groups come together and work as a cohesive unit. This is the key to building and maintaining a strong company voice, one which comes across as clear and ever present regardless of which component of your company a consumer is interacting with.
Cohesion in Communications
Now, when it comes to formulating what exactly the voice of your company needs to sound like to reflect Customer First branding, it all depends on your company itself. Once you’ve determined how you want your company to be perceived by the public, it’s important you make sure that that voice is evident in all interactions with those in the digital market. Further, when we think about a digital ad, it’s easy to ensure your pitch is clear and concise, but what about when employees speak directly to a client? By no means are we suggesting that each client interaction be started with a three-minute monotone reading of your company’s mission statement, but you should make sure that that mission statement is eluded to with synonymous terminology and communication tactics.
Image courtesy of pikisuperstar