Your Customer Experience and Reputation are Your Brand
November 16, 2018 | Contributed by: Jon Schepke
Your customer experience and reputation are much more than a differentiator. They’re the cornerstone of your brand. For decades, businesses have built brands by defining their values (what do I stand for?), positioning (how do I want customers to perceive me?), and image (how do I express my brand consistently from one channel to the next?). All those elements remain important. But they need to exist in service of your customer experience and reputation.
As Dipanjan Chatterjee of Forrester Research wrote recently, “The best companies harmonize brand experience (BX) and customer experience (CX). Those that allow these experiences to fragment and fester risk . . . leaving money on the table. Worst case: These brands will be rendered irrelevant, especially in categories ripe for disruption.”
Marketing Supports the Experience
The interrelationship of a company’s brand, customer experience, and reputation is manifesting itself in some interesting ways. I was recently reading a Forbes article about content marketing trends for 2019. Most executives I talk to think of content marketing as an in-bound tactic to attract and convert customers, and good content marketing should certainly continue to have that role. But the Forbes article pointed out that content marketing is actually supporting stronger customer relationships post conversion:
- Content marketing already addresses a variety of needs and objectives for different departments. Sales teams use content to bolster pitches and improve client relationships. Brand managers turn content into goodwill and authority. Recruiters attract top talent by publishing content in places where the best candidates spend their time online. The possibilities are endless — and now, a new avenue is opening up.
- Customer success refers to the ways companies help customers get the most value from products and services. In this era of personalization, it’s no longer enough to make the sale, move on to the next one, and handle complaints as they arise. Now, companies need customers to get maximum value from their purchases to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and develop stronger relationships.
- In this pursuit, content helps companies equip their customers for success. Content shows buyers optimal uses for companies’ products and services, encouraging customers to see the good more than the bad. With a content strategy focused on customer success, businesses can devote fewer resources to putting out fires and more resources to growing their brands.
The Challenge of Measurement
The ascendance of the customer experience raises a number of challenges, as well, such as:
- How to properly measure customer experience.
- How to align your entire marketing operations with your customer experience and reputation, including your location-based marketing.
- How to treat your reputation as an asset.
Of these, my clients ask about proper measurement the most – by far. That’s because a business’s reputation is defined by every touchpoint in the customer journey. For instance, Facebook and Google are driving business reviews everywhere consumers look. We’re seeing that customer reviews of a business are influencing how high a business ranks in search results, and Google is giving users the ability to sort search results by rating of the business. Ratings and reviews have become like location data: if you don’t have them, you might as well not exist in the online world.
The Reputation Score
We’re seeing the emergence of sophisticated tools to help. Forrester recently published a customer experience index that demonstrates how improvements in customer experience growth provide exponential value in many industries based on the broad range of cross sell and upsell opportunities. But large, multi-location brands are looking for a single integrated platform to track the entire customer journey. With our clients, we rely on a reputation score as an index to help an industry manage the value of a great customer experience. The reputation score captures all key dimensions of Internet visibility and customer sentiment for a business.
The reputation score uses a series of proprietary algorithms to calculate the KPIs of online reputation and drive insights. These KPIs include:
- Star Average (Sentiment) – High ratings on important sites are critical to your online reputation.
- Volume – A healthy volume of reviews represent an established business.
- Spread – Reviews distributed across all major sites improve search coverage.
- Recency – Recent reviews create a fresh and vibrant feel for a location.
- Search Impression – A robust presence on search engines invites prospective buyers.
- Listing Accuracy – Accurate listings on major sites bring new customers.
- Response – Responding to reviews elevates your credibility online.
- Length – Longer reviews are more substantial and impactful.
- Social – Engaged users on social networks are more likely to convert.
Having a reputation score gives a business a benchmark for measuring its performance against its peers – and a standard by which to measure improvement. My company recently worked with a large multi-location brand that improved its reputation score by 60% over a three-year period. And guess what: the business ended up dominating Google Maps Pack results.
On the other hand, if a business fails to track and manage its reputation, the business will see a drop in its KPIs, based on our experience. The choice is simple: tracking and managing your reputation will achieve stronger results with your KPI’s. Neglecting your reputation will hurt you. Which outcome do you prefer?