THE BLOG
12/05/2012 05:06 pm ET Updated Feb 04, 2013

Honoring Brand Promises Is Critical to Your Survival as a Company

The Challenge: Companies have always made promises to customers and prospects. But with today's socially empowered consumers, companies are made or broken based on how well they keep their promises. Is your company trustworthy enough?

Historically, companies have always over promised and under delivered.

But will that behavior fly with today's savvy consumer? "The dirty laundry is out there because of social media," says Loni Kao Stark, director of product marketing at Adobe's Digital Marketing Solutions.

As a result, companies now have a greater responsibility to deliver on promises and live up to expectations.

This doesn't just affect existing customers, but corporate reputations, thus, their continued viability. As Stark says, "In the world of social media and digitally connected customers, only authentic brands will survive."

One company that consistently delivers on brand promises is the high-end men's retailer Harry Rosen. The company consistently maintains brand promises by utilizing a three-point strategy involving observation, feedback, and training. Associates contact customers, use feedback to establish customer needs, and then respond to those needs throughout the customer lifecycle.

The retailer then strengthens its customer relationships by informing them of events relevant to their interests - such as shipments from their favorite designer - and trains associates to provide great service at every touchpoint. To ensure promises are maintained, Rosen also contacts customers within 30 days of purchase to ensure their satisfaction.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. Understand customer expectations.
Organizations should realize customers no longer compare them only to their competition. Customer experience is also measured against online customer service dynamos like Zappos. In order to compete, brands must maintain ongoing dialogues with customers to gather feedback, and use that feedback to keep improving the customer experience. This dialogue should take place via surveys, CSR conversations, social media, and follow-up e-mails after purchases.

2. Keep promises throughout the customer life cycle.
Every experience that customers have with a company is a reflection of that company's brand promise. Ensure that staff at every touchpoint in your customer lifecycle are trained to respond to customer feedback appropriately. Customer service reps should be knowledgeable and helpful. Sales associates should be attentive and aware of customer needs. And management should ensure that high levels of performance are being maintained. This applies to people and processes!

3. Ensure your brand promise is consistent across all channels.
Today's consumer sends and receives information across multiple channels on a daily basis. If you promise one thing in TV ads and another on your social media feed, customers will notice. And that inconsistency can quickly paint you as an organization not to be trusted. Establish what specifically you want your brand promise to be, build your campaigns around that promise, and ensure that messages and experiences are consistent across your multi-channel mix.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."

www.erdm.com
ernan@erdm.com