Developing Trust and Authority
The ability to develop a reputation of trust and authority in the industry is the greatest tool in the arsenal of the managers of any aspiring brand name. Famous names command the lifelong loyalty of their best consumers. These customers are willing to pay for that value over a cheaper generic. Indeed, in the cases of tissues, medications, and beverages, among others, the most famous brand names are synonymous with or more well-known than the formal name of the product itself! The challenge for a new business is in getting name recognition for their company. There are many effective ways of developing brands, and while each industry responds differently to these techniques, each is a tool in building the reputation of a business.
As a tool for raw name recognition, advertisement and publicity are the first that most people would consider. Good publicity, like having testimonials and expert opinions freely available, is an invaluable first step towards building a reputation. Offering samples and discounts are common methods of getting those first few customers. Word of mouth is often cited as the most effective means of spreading publicity, and some businesses are built entirely upon door-to-door and appointment-based sales using this method. The more voices speaking the company’s name, the more powerful the recognition of the merits of the company becomes. The major pitfall is negative publicity, because negative impressions can often spread louder than positive publicity, and the damage it does is hard to repair. Industry leaders develop contingencies for such failures, and prepare by leading with their best products.
Negative publicity can start from the most minor of mistakes. At first, customers will try to be understanding of foibles, but if they are repeated, good reputations can be damaged or destroyed. Keeping in touch with unsatisfied customers and answering their concerns in a satisfactory manner are the best ways to prevent a bad situation from becoming aggravated. When a damaged product can’t be repaired, offering a replacement is imperative to protect a reputation of responsive customer service. Oftentimes, customers will look upon a quickly-fixed first mistake more positively than any prior experiences they’ve had with a company, as long as that mistake is not repeated again.
Being able to satisfy customers who are in bad situations is a positive step; however, there are always steps that can prevent those situations from occurring in the first place. Starting with great products made with top-tier workmanship is the best beginning to a positive customer experience. A product that a customer can count on is a sign of a company a customer can trust. Adapting products and responding to changes in technology and consumer demand are the keys to being at the forefront of innovation. Keeping employees knowledgeable about products as they change is also highly important. Being able to explain new features of the product conveys the spirit of authority that people look for from industry leaders. When they trust a company to provide superior quality and information, communities open their homes to the company that’s ready to capitalize on that reputation.
Community involvement is a final, powerful tool in developing a company’s reputation for reliability. Philanthropic projects go beyond a means for creating relationships among associates into cementing the relationship with the community as an everyday partner. An ethic of protecting the environment around production centers leaves a strong feeling that a company is interested in improving the future, and an ethic of maintaining cultural centers when expanding a business reminds customers that the company values preserving the past. A healthy respect of tradition and a keen eye for innovation are two of the best impressions a company can create on the road to building trust among its customer base.
A company which begins with the best products can’t help but become the best in its industry, but backing up the product with positive messages of trustworthiness can only help along the way. As word spreads about the positive user experiences, with both perfect and imperfect execution, the company’s reputation as a leader can grow. The foundation can be strengthened as the company continues to move forward, by staying on top of innovation and making sure everyone along the way knows their function completely. Bringing that reputation out of the sales floor and into the lives of the community through wider involvement is the last step in building up that reputation, so that the customer knows it’s not just about taking their money, for the company, it’s about creating everyone’s future. The company’s involvement becomes the customer’s and the community’s, and all three can build together, higher than any one of them could build alone.