Customers buy for a variety of reasons and one of the most important is your company’s reputation. Your reputation is a state of being held in high esteem. It’s the core of who you are and what you represent. The question becomes, how did you get there? How did you develop your reputation – being highly thought of and sought after by your prospects and customers?
There are 3 principles for building a first-rate reputation:
– Exceeding expectations
– Strong return for the investment
– Your company’s culture
Exceeding expectations: What expectations do you set with your customer or prospect that gives them an appreciation about how you conduct business? How are you different from the rest of the pack? Do you deliver greater service than expected, faster turnaround on delivery, better than expected response time on the phone or onsite? When you exceed expectations, your customers are elated. This is what they will come to expect. When you are impressed with how you are taken care of, do you tell a colleague about it? Most certainly, and since we all want our friends and colleagues to reap the same benefits we’ve received, we give a referral which naturally adds to our own credibility. Sometimes it’s the little things in life that make the huge difference. Your health club opening up 10 minutes early or waiting on hold for the next operator and they say the waiting time is 5 minutes and they pick up in 20 seconds and you’re impressed. Or your CPA says you will owe approximately $750 this year in taxes but due to his diligence, he calls one week later to say that you are getting $250 back. It’s all about being better than the expectations you set. Where can you exceed expectations?
Strong return for the investment: A strong return on investment is tangible proof that your solution provides value. Yet can you quantify the return for the customer? Will spending $5,000 in new software reap a return 5 times greater over the next 2 years? Will it be in revenue, expense savings, customer response time or an increase in productivity? If you can quantify their investment, your customer will have a sound reason to buy. Customer testimonials are one great way to demonstrate your value, and you’re letting your customer tell your story. Nothing is more powerful than reference selling and referrals.
Your company’s culture: maybe intangible, but it’s powerful. It’s how you view your customers. How do you conduct your business, what’s your attitude towards customers, how can they expect to be treated? Winning companies are the ones that give power to the employees to make decisions that are in favor of taking care of the customer. Does your culture put the customer first, does it empower the employee to solve the customer’s problem, are your terms and conditions fair, do you follow up in a timely manner and how quick are you to resolve issues and make decisions? World class companies let customers know what it’s like to do business with them. There is very little red tape. Just look at how Southwest Airlines operates and yes their latest commercials have a ball of red tape rolling down the terminal. Great companies have a reputation for being decisive, having a goal that is always win-win and have a foundation formed with their customers on based on trust.
If you want your customers to admire your reputation in your industry, make sure you exceed their expectations, convey a strong return for the investment and show them how your company operates to maximize the customer relationship.