Blog : customer trust

A key to corporate communications

A key to corporate communications

The marketplace is placing new demands on how corporations interact with their clientele. At the core of many consumer’s concerns is the ability to resolve an issue without any unneeded hassle.

The solution begins with anticipating the needs of your audience. Does your staff have the skills to identify the nature of an issue, the tools to correct the problem, and the latitude to engage a working solution?

As a consumer, how many times have you spoken to someone in a customer service department who clearly does not understand what you are describing, cannot access the information that is needed, nor do they possess the authority to resolve your issue?

Empower your staff

By anticipating the needs of your customers, providing proper staff training, and empowering your employees to resolve an issue, you position the company to respond intelligently to an inquiry of any caliber. The process starts with you.

Communications is a proactive and interactive relationship. The key is listening and responding intelligently to what your customer has to say. After you hear what they tell you, provide some type of proactive response that advances the situation toward a proper resolution.

Two critical needs for successful communications are:

  • An established path of open communications – Is that path flexible to meet the changing needs of the consumer and your corporation?
  • Trained “brand ambassadors” who understand your brand and your corporation. They must understand the needs of your clients. Do you have people who can effectively communicate with your customers? Do they merely read text off of a computer screen or do they actively process the requests when the public contact them?

The way we interact and the manner in which we prepare for that interaction are mission critical to the success of your brand. If a customer’s requests get lost in a web of inefficiency, the potential PR damage is probably more significant than the event that generated the initial query. No one likes to have their concerns dismissed, lost, or just ignored.

Be sure that your customer service team has a flexible, interactive pathway established before you “open the front door.” If your staff doesn’t have an answer, at least have the ability to ‘vamp.’ Be able to acknowledge, record intelligently, and pass along the genuine concerns of your clients to someone who can correct the situation.

Your corporate brand is not an image on a bumper sticker. It is the lifeline to your customer. Be sure that you understand the process of communication.

Simplify the corporate image
The internal workings of almost any corporation are complex. Structure, hierarchies, and procedures are mission critical to keeping an organization well oiled and operational. However, when a customer calls in, they don’t care about your corporate needs – they want a simple answer to their problem.

This challenge faces every corporate communications office. How do you merge these two necessities? The problems that most corporations face are being able to listen successfully and answer intelligently.

Calvin Sun wrote a great piece on corporate communications for TechRepublic. Being able to communicate successfully involves active participation. Be ready to listen. Be prepared to change for the needs of your customer, your industry, and your brand.

If you want to develop a working strategy for your customer’s needs, contact our project managers to help you get your brand to those who matter most.

Corporate transparency vs. sharing too much information

Corporate transparency vs. sharing too much information

Consumer access to information has placed the discussion of corporate transparency clearly before our eyes. This debate is about a company’s ability to be as forthcoming about their brand as possible, in order to gain their customers’ trust. An increasing number of companies are adopting a ‘full truth’ method for a few reasons.

According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, “68% of the respondents surveyed considered it important for brands to communicate openly and transparently about how their products are sourced and made.”

In an effort to increase their public persona, several corporations have made efforts improve their relationship with their customers. Patagonia, a popular outdoor apparel and equipment brand shows how it provides transparency for their customers.

Patagonia provides its customers with its Footprint chronicles. This feature allows customers to track the environmental impact of each item sold by Patagonia. The brand offers interviews, PowerPoints, and more, which details the people and history behind the products. For those who are consumers of the brand and advocates for the earth, this feature allows them to be conscious about what affect their purchase will have on the planet. However, this is just one such brand going the distance to provide as much information about the product to the people who consume them. Other brands such as Chipotle and BMW also show a level of transparency with their customers.

 “How much information is too much information? At which point is transparency no longer a viable trait?”

How do you differentiate between transparent communications and tossing out a ‘wall of data’ to justify the request for openness? At what point do you defend your ‘corporate life experiences’ to justify the cost of proactive communication? Every person and corporation have a base of life experiences from which each has grown and learned.

If we were to expose all of our past ‘learning steps’ it could be easily argued that no one may find any one person or corporation attractive. Where do you draw the line between protecting critical competitive data and damage control?

With that said, how we communicate as we move forward is critical. This is an ethical question that every person and corporation must address as move forward. How will they communicate with others? It’s a huge “grey zone” with no defined answers.

Several large corporations are making the shift to transparency. As is so often found in communications, differing perspectives may help to provide a broader insight. Articles from Inc. and Forbes provide an interesting perspective that should be explored.

At the end of the day, how you address this quandary may be defined by a balance you discover between objectives. How do you open your business to your consumer, yet protect the company secrets and interests? Where and how do you draw the line?

Forbes writer, Daniel Newman put it this way “Your consumers will find this honesty so much more appealing than the smokescreen you try to hang over your shortcoming. They will not flinch from giving exactly what you are looking for: their trust and loyalty.”