Now we are not taking about chocolate chip cookies here. We are all familiar with the way computer cookies work. We visit a web-site, our computer downloads a cookie or cookies from the site that allows easier access the second or subsequent time, it’s a silent, hidden subconscious bookmark left on our computer by the website.
Let’s step out of cyberspace and back to bricks and mortar reality now. Our business/brand uses the same system with our day-to-day interactions. Our ‘brand cookie’ is created and downloaded by customers or potential customers every day, 24/7.
Every hard or soft touchpoint we create with customers or potential customers offers an opportunity for them to download our ‘brand cookie’ to bookmark us and our companies are a later date.
“Do I trust them?”
“Do I like them?”
“Would I refer them to a friend?”
“Would I buy from them?”
All valid and important questions that customers or potential customers ponder subconsciously on a daily basis.
Branding is much more than a logo and some fancy colour, maybe throw in some snazzy uniforms and a bells and whistles web-site.
Branding and brand communication, which is how you communicate your brand to the market is a rather broad subject.
Consider these following quick scenarios:
- A customer feels aggrieved with your business, not happy with the service, (perhaps due to unrealistic expectations), and posts an unflattering review on Facebook or a social media platform. How this poor review is dealt with will form as a ‘brand cookie’ in the minds of anyone reached by this unfavourable review.
- A job applicant prepares their resume and application and submits for a position your company has advertised. Due to the volume of application, the applicant does not receive an acknowledgement of receipt of application, nor does the applicant receive notification of the process or even the outcome. So no thankyou but no thanks email or letter. What message does the applicant have from your company? Could they feel a disconnect from the espoused ethos that ‘Our People are our greatest assets.’
- A company car changes lane quickly heavy traffic and cuts off another driver. The car is branded as a company vehicle with logos on the doors and personalised plates. Another opportunity for the ‘brand cookie’ to be downloaded and filed.
- A customer asks for something that is not in stock. It will have to be ordered in, and will need to be sent from Sydney to a regional centre where you are. Takes about 7 – 14 days, we have to get it from Sydney is what you tell the customer. Another opportunity for the ‘brand cookie’ to be downloaded and embedded.
Everyday businesses have thousands of ‘brand cookie’ moments with customers, and many are suitably handled. The key to focus on here is maximising the opportunity to embed a positive ‘brand cookie’ with every interaction.
What are the benefits of a positive ‘brand cookie’?
- Your business can slash their advertising and marketing budget, because your customers will forever become the greatest brand ambassadors you could ever have.
- Sales will lift, due to the positive nature and positive vibe that surrounds your business.
- The cost per sale will decrease, due to a feeling of trust in your staff and your brand.
- The need to discount will also diminish, due to brand strength and a stronger value proposition attached to your business.
- Your business will be seen as the employer of choice in your industry, the employer where people matter and staff feel good.
- Media will seek your business out when it comes to compiling stories related to your industry, as they will know and trust your business because of positive ‘brand cookies’.
- In tough conditions, being seen as a ‘blue chip’ within your industry can be critical in assisting your business to ride out a down-turn.
- When selling your business, a potential buyer for your business will want to associate with the strongest brand in the market, better price for you, greater goodwill.
So we accept the need to build positive ‘brand cookies’ every day. What are some of the steps a business can take to ensure strong brand communication on a daily basis?
Without tackling the entire people and culture answer the simple answer is always in the little things, and the simple answer is the first part of this very long and involved journey.
- Change the language within your business. NO! should not be the first go to answer for staff and customers. – A difficult question could be answered, “Let me see how we can do that?”
- Take complaints seriously and see negative feedback as positive, if it is handled right. So respond to a poor review for your business. “Thank you for taking the time to leave a review on your recent visit/interaction with us. I’m sorry your experience was not what you expected. I am keen to understand more about this, can you please contact me on XXXX@mybusiness.com.au as we are committed to ensuring all customers have a positive experience and we are dedicated to constant improvement.
Now many times the complaint will never be placed in writing to you. The customer has vented and moved on. However anyone reading the poor review and seeing the management response will take away a positive impression from the management response.
Here’s a business that welcomes feedback and is committed to improving, and values the customer experience.
- Include staff in the formulation of a customer service charter. Obviously work on setting a customer service mandate (goal) and then work with staff on what needs to happen to achieve the goal.
- We all try to cram more into every day, more reporting, more calls, more prospecting, but take a step back and only cram (if you must) what is truly important. Set priorities, review them, set goals, be collaborative in goal setting and maintain a discipline. It’s easy to be distracted by forces external. Staying true to our ethos and goals takes a measure of discipline.
But most of all, within all of us, we understand our businesses; we know what works and what doesn’t work. We also know what works for our competitors. You don’t need me to tell you the answers. Already you most likely have 3 – 5 ideas that you want to commit to.
Take the time now and grab a pen and some paper and start to formulate your approach to building a positive ‘brand cookie’ for your business. Keep foremost in your mind how you feel about a business that you recommend to everyone at every opportunity and ask, “How would they deal with……?” and then do that.
Happy reforming and revising. Remember on a scale of 1 – 10, you would love your customers to rate you as a 9 – 10 and forever become a brand ambassador for your business. The future starts now.