Posts tagged business ethics
Your brand defines you as a company. When people respect your brand’s reputation, they put their trust in you. However, the opposite of this statement is also true. If your brand’s reputation tanks, then you can be sure to expect some form of negative impact. As a business owner, you need to keep in mind the risks to your company when you don’t protect your brand’s reputation.
Losing Time and Money
A brand is like a baby. You nurture it, you feed it, and shape what it is going to be. That requires time and money. An investment that you stand to lose if you are not careful. Even worse, any negative impact on the perception of your brand will cost you more in the future. You are not going to give up on your brand, and it takes more effort to bring it back into a positive light then it does to give it life.
Your Company’s Sales
When your brand’s reputation suffers, how do you think your customers will react? If your brand gets into trouble, everyone starts to look at it differently. For your customers, some of them will start to distance themselves from you. They do this with their wallets. Customer spending on your products or services declines and the growth of your company is stunted.
Reputation Affects Expansion
Most businesses know that they can’t do it alone. They can build a company at the start, but along the way they are going to need help from competent and qualified employees. When people think ill of your company, they stay away. That includes qualified talent, who can help bring new ideas that may help expand your business. Unfortunately, public perception forces them to go elsewhere for work. After all, who would want to work for a company that no one respects?
Client relationships are the lifeblood of a marketing agency. Let’s talk about three things agencies do that tank relationships before they even have a chance to get started.
Assuming What the Client Knows/Wants
We’ve all been guilty of this one, but it’s a quick way to get into trouble. First of all, you can’t assume the client knows what you do and don’t do. You have to be transparent. If you say “Blog Management,” clearly explain to the client what that entails. Don’t assume everyone knows your definition. Second, you can’t always know the client’s expectation. You may be thinking they want written content when “content” in the client’s mind means digital videos. The best client relationships exist when both sides define everything, speak plainly, and ask a lot of questions.
Telling Lies (or Leaving Out the Truth) Destroys Client Relationships
Obviously, you can’t go around being dishonest with clients, but dishonesty is more than just bold-faced lying. Leaving out little details that mislead a client into thinking they are getting more than they actually are, or hiding various expenses and fees, will leave the client with the same bad taste. For example, don’t say that the website development will cost $X and leave out that the client will have to pay an additional hourly rate to have content written. Don’t offer “website managing” unless it actually includes everything. Say what is included—and what can be had for an extra fee.
Not Talking About Objectives
What is the client’s endgame? Are they looking for site traffic, social media followers, improved email click-through rate (CTR), or a greater conversion rate? If you don’t have an honest conversation about goals, you can produce a lot of great work—and still have an unhappy customer.
Before your next client walks through the door, be sure to know what you need to ask, and also think about the things the client will look back on 6 months from now and say, “Well, I wish I knew that when we got started.” Then you can build long-term client relationships that increase the lifetime value of each customer.
A security blunder can lead to major embarrassment for a company. Just ask Heinz, which experienced a QR code error that sent customers to a pornographic site instead of the intended company site. Oops.
The fact is that getting hacked is a fact of life for modern businesses. The question is, how will you respond when it happens to your company?
Secure Practices Limit Damage
The first thing everyone wants to know when a major hack occurs is whether or not the company was negligent in security practices. That means your security needs to be top notch for damage control to result in forgiveness. The main factors in avoiding a hack are:
- Security Software
- Administrative Control
- Software Updates
If you have these three things in place, the blame can often be shifted from your company, which was doing everything right, to the hacker.
Regaining Consumer Trust
Most digital ad agencies understand how important it is to limit damages to any company because restoring trust is always vital to your brand. There are three main ways to keep consumers on your side.
- Fix the Problem Quickly – Take the site down until you can figure out what is wrong and repair it. Try to identify the root of the problem instead of just fixing the effect. Check office computers for malware. Have the staff change all of their passwords. Make sure things are clear before you go live again. An isolated incident is forgivable, but patterns destroy trust.
- Communicate with Consumers – If personal data was lost, let everyone know immediately. Usually, email is a good method. Take a lesson from Anthem BCBS, who offered an identity guard service for free for two years to everyone affected by a recent hack.
- Use Social Media – This is a great place to provide updates and answer questions in a public forum.
Most digital ad agencies understand the rapid response necessary to limit damages to any brand. The key to fixing the problem is transparency. The public will find out what happened eventually. The longer it takes to communicate, the more damage occurs to brand perception. By fixing the problem and being honest, you can avoid much of the backlash that comes from getting hacked.
Sexism is still rampant in the workplace, and it may show up in the tech industry even more dramatically than in some other fields of work. Why is the tech industry such a boys club? What role do gender stereotypes play? Do women even want these jobs? It is clear that a substantial distinction still exists between men and women in the workplace when it comes to jobs involving technology.
The lack of women in the tech workplace probably goes back to childhood. Just like you don’t hand Barbie dolls to your boys, few parents encourage young girls to become computer programmers or to work in technology in general. The fact is that most people perceive the industry as being better suited to how the male mind works (more logical than emotional).
What Do Researchers Say?
A UK periodical conducted a survey of individuals who work in the tech industry. More than half were convinced that women will get paid less than men for the same job. Of course, you may argue that this occurs in other industries as well. The survey also determined that nearly three-quarters of both women and men perceive the tech industry as being sexist.
How Do Women Feel About Tech Jobs?
An interesting study followed the career path of university students who got jobs in the tech industry after graduation. Surprisingly, nearly a third of the men in the study eventually left their tech jobs to find other kinds of work. However, more than half of women left tech-heavy work to seek out other professions. Is it possible that this study is reporting an interesting truth – that most women don’t want to be in the tech industry anyway?
Regardless of the whys or wherefores, the fact is that the tech industry is still struggling with gender roles because it is seriously slanted in the direction of males, at least for the time being. Time will determine if women care enough to seek out better positions in the industry for future generations or if the stereotypes will prevail.
Long Term Customer Engagement: It is the Results That Count
The customer life-cycle has an end goal and that is a sale. It all starts when a consumer is first made aware of your company. A lot goes into altering perceptions so that consumers come to not only know but trust your brand. Long term customer engagement can thus be the key to turning first time buyers into long term customers. So, let’s take a look at that first sales experience, and discuss what to do next.
Action is the easiest part of the customer lifecycle to track. Sales figures are easy to look over. For example, you can browse total revenue or the number of sales for a given day. But what happens once you make that first sale? First-time buyers will now have a new perception of the brand. This experience will either confirm the testimonials they heard from others or create a discrepancy in their mind between what they thought and what they have found out on their own.
This makes good customer service and support a vital component at this stage of the customer lifecycle. If a consumer has a problem with a product, a good return policy could make the difference between a bad or good experience. In fact, it could cause them to further trust the brand. Similarly, what if a consumer has trouble operating a product? Good support can create a situation that results in the consumer knowing that they can count on your company.
Make sure your company is accessible. Staff an in-store customer service desk with helpful, friendly people. Provide phone support and chat support, rather than just an email address that gets checked once per day. Respond promptly and try to settle all issues in an amicable way unless the consumer just isn’t open to agreement. Even social media can be used to provide a good after-purchase experience for buyers.
This good experience not only creates loyal customers, but potential proponents of your brand. It is true that happy consumers often share their experiences with others. Long term customer engagement, therefore, is the best way to build and maintain your business.
Keep Your Online Shoppers Coming Back: Treat Them Like You Would Like to Be Treated
A disgruntled customer isn’t going to storm out of your online store and come back to drive their SUV through the glass. They just won’t come back at all, which means lost sales. Here are some suggestions you can apply that will keep your online shoppers coming back.
First of all, you should not charge the customer for returns. It is annoying to pay for the return postage just because someone ordered the wrong size. However, if you think of it as overhead, just like what brick-and-mortar stores have, it may be easier to take. And, think of it this way, you don’t have to worry about customers walking out of the store with a product they didn’t pay for.
Second, be sure your product descriptions are worthwhile. Here’s an example: Don’t sell speakers and forget to list the frequency response range. Informed consumers want to know these kinds of details, even if it’s just a portable speaker. It is also important to provide information like accurate product dimensions, including weight.
Also, make sure your ‘Search’ works correctly. If a customer searches for hard-shell luggage and they get 3 results, well, that is good. However, if they go to buy or select another item and your site’s ‘Recommended products’ includes another hard-shell luggage piece that wasn’t in the original results, they will quickly get frustrated and move on.
“How many hoops do I have to jump through to get you to take my money?” If a customer is wondering this, then the odds are items will get left in the cart—and they won’t be back for them. Make the site easy to navigate, especially the checkout procedure. Make it easy to adjust items in the cart, whether it is removing an item or adjusting the quantity.
Finally, customer service may be even more important to online shoppers. If there is an issue, respond promptly and try to resolve it to the customer’s satisfaction the first time. If you follow these suggestions, you will keep your online shoppers coming back, time and time again.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing: The Intelligent Way to Market
Word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool. A fundamental trait of humans, seemingly instinctual, is the desire by humans to share their experiences. When tapped into, this tendency can be a powerful force for a company. With all the different ways of communication that exist in our society today, it is very important to know what you are doing when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. Marketing by means of word-of-mouth is based largely on three things: Your reputation as a business; your business culture; and, the way your customers are treated. With this on the line, the messages that you spread must be honest and clear.
If you want to inspire this type of marketing, your performance needs to be extraordinary. Keep in mind that being both extraordinarily good, as well as extraordinarily bad, will inspire your customers to start talking. So, make sure that your performance gets you good press, not bad. You want your customers to feel important and taken care of. If you want them to share your message, you have to be sure to come through on your promises. If your customer’s experience is positive, then their stories will be positive.
When it comes to your presence on social communities, the goal should be to be present. Your customers expect you to answer immediately. To that end, it is vital to have a team of well-trained representatives. It is their job to respond and provide high quality content.
The goal should always be to inspire fans, not to buy them. If they feel like they are being manipulated, you will lose their trust. Learn what is important to your customers and what types of rewards are going to motivate them. Once you have this information, you can provide them with ways in which to reach those rewards.
Members of your social community expect you to deliver trustworthy, helpful content. This requires research on your part. Find out what your customers want and what they feel is important. If you rely on what you think they want, you may find yourself completely off base. So, use the valuable tool of social networking to connect with your customers and let them tell you the content that they want.
Remember, your customers are people too. So, what matters to people? They want a good deal. They especially want what they receive to touch their emotions. Your content should add worth to their hopes and dreams. The more that your fans feel like they benefit from your content, the more they will feel the need to share it with others. The virtual world is another thing you can take advantage of. Virtual games have taken the world by storm, and provide a unique advantage to their creators.
While you go forth with this technique of marketing, there are a few things that you should to try to avoid. For example, you should never employ sneaky or under-the-table strategies. If your audience doubts—even for one second—that you are trustworthy, you have lost them. So, never leave any space for them to feel manipulated. For instance, if you are connected with a blogger, make sure that you are up front about the relationship. Your clients know that your ultimate goal is to sell your product. So, if you try to hide that fact from them, then they are going to feel tricked and lied to. Don’t let that happen. Be transparent and up front.
When you put these strategies into practice, you will find word-of-mouth marketing to be a force for good and not evil.