All business owners know that if a customer has a good experience with a company and its products, it will carry over onto other products made by the same company – whether the customer has used the other products or not. Luckily, if customers have a good experience with a company, they will expect all future interactions to be the same until they run into something that convinces them otherwise.
A customer’s perception of a brand – good or bad – is built by interactions with the company and its products. This brand perception has always been important for the success of any business, but now the Internet makes it even more important.
Now your customer develops brand perception through use of your products or direct interaction with your company – and through use of your website. Customers expect almost every legitimate company to have a presence on the Internet, and everything about the website will either contribute to or detract from a company’s brand image.
You Must Have a Plan
The problem is, though most businesses create a user-centered design plan to address customer needs and wants with regard to their product, few businesses have gone to the trouble of writing out a plan defining brand values to use when designing their web page, viewing such a plan as something of an in-house tool.
Any company that wants to influence the associations their customers make with their products and services needs to pay attention to brand value and how it is translated to the customer on the Internet — and develop a plan to present that brand before the website is even designed. A site may look good, but without specific goals to enhance brand value it will be ineffectual.
Important Points to Consider
If everyone involved in the design process understands the brand value objectives for the site, there is a better chance of getting that brand perception to the customer. To do this, the design team needs to get together and develop a plan that discusses and draws some conclusions around these points:
- Customer interactions with the company – both offline and online – contribute to brand value.
- Customers must have the same positive experience anywhere and anytime they deal with a company to maintain that brand image.
- Brand value is just one aspect of user centered design. Other aspects are ease of use, content, performance and satisfaction. All of these should be addressed in terms of customer experience.
- A website – though important – is not the only way a company interacts with its customers.
- Errors on the website will be associated with the brand value and can be potentially damaging to the company.
A company is defined by its reputation, and a good reputation enables the company to rise above other brands. In this age of Twitter and Facebook and other highly used social media platforms, a good customer endorsement has the potential to bring in hundreds, if not thousands, of new customers. In the alternative, a negative customer interaction can, and will, spread quickly, with the result being a possible loss of your existent customers.
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