We all have our own views, sometimes very strong ones, about the brands we interact with; some we love, some are okay and others we just don’t like at all.
What do the following brands say to you? John Lewis, Aldi, Primark, Alfa Romeo, Skoda or BMW? I’m sure you found a few adjectives for each one; cheap, quality, nice, professional, fun, approachable, helpful, functional and so on. The adjectives we use to ‘label’ a brand, come out of our own experience with that brand. Rightly or wrongly, that’s where our perceptions of a brand come from. And your brand is no exception.
So, if I were to ask you; “what car or shop is your company?” What would you say?
Whichever you chose; does your company demonstrate the same values and adjectives in the eyes of your customers? Does the company look and behave like a BMW, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Aldi or Skoda?
I’ve asked hundreds of business owners this question. In the answers I’ve had every car from the Fiat 500; meaning iconic, nippy, stylish and economical to Rolls-Royce’s; meaning, luxury, expensive, boring and out of my reach.
Once I’ve heard their views, then I ask them if their customers would list the same cars or shops. Umm…..they usually don’t know….?
So ask them!
The next 10 customers you speak to, ask them the same question; if we were a shop or a car what we be?
The results are certainly interesting. Usually the business owner is more ‘prestigious’ than the customer. Rose coloured spectacles perhaps? Maybe, but the important point is to understand what the customer says, because that is their reality.
If you believe you are a BMW but your customers think Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 106 then you have some work to do.
Taking this one stage further. You should ask your employees too. I suspect the answers will be different again. Perhaps the results were:
- Owner says a Mercedes or John Lewis
- Customers say Honda Jazz or Marks and Spencer
- Employees say an Audi or Pret-a-Manger
Remember your customers and employees are expressing their reality. Whatever the result there’ll be a gap – there always is. Now you know what that gap is, you can put tactics in place to change their perceptions.
Part of improving the customers’ perception of your business is improving your standards and the consistency with which they are applied. You wouldn’t dream of opening a café with dirty windows, stained tablecloths, tepid coffee, lipstick stained cups, limp sandwiches, cake sometimes but not others and prices that vary according to your mood!
Set your standards and work hard to ensure that they are the same every time a customer experiences them. Soon you can be whatever car or shop you want to be!
Shirley Mansfield is a Master Problem Solver, coaching and mentoring businesses success – and Author of The Grown-Up Business book.
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