I see many businesses discussing their values and their mission in both online and offline marketing. It can be smart to let people know what you are really about and what values you hold. There are many consumers that will invest in products or services from companies that they believe have the same values they do. And, some companies see “values” as an opportunity to pick up new customers.
At times, some businesses create values and a mission and they run with concept. Management believes in the values, they discuss them at meetings, have mission statements around the office and sometimes they even include their values in marketing. This is all great, but for customers to really believe that your business has these values you have to go beyond words, signs and marketing strategy.
If you don’t have the right kind of employees you cannot expect for your values to be upheld. You need employees that have the right type of personality and/or temperament to make your customers, and potential customers, believe that your stated values are valid.
Sometimes one employee can destroy the reputation of a business with one customer or many. Having values is great, but you need employees that will embrace and exude your values as well.
One of the toughest jobs in any business is dealing with customer service issues. There are plenty of people that have had a bad day or can be irrational when contacting a company about an issue. However, no matter how irrational or even insane a customer may be whoever is handling customer service must, at all times, show the values your company claims to have.
Customer service can create company evangelists or company haters quickly. The “haters” have a lot of power today and that brings me to my next point.
Complaints from Customers: Online Nightmares
In the past people could call and complain to a manager and hope for a solution. If a manager did nothing, oh well for the business, right? Well in today’s world people have plenty of places online to complain about a company and typically those sites rank highly in search engines.
Potentially the worst place people could complain at is Google Places; this you do not want. It is not good for people to Google (search) a company and see complaints on the first page of search results. So avoiding online complaints is REALLY important.
Another way people complain and gain supporters with their complaints is with social media. People tell stories and get upset or build anger and word spreads quickly. Friends of the upset person jump in to help defend their friend and slam the business that has offended someone they care about. There is a snowball effect and the fallout from something like this can be catastrophic.
My Recommendation: do all you can to avoid creating “haters” because “haters” have a ton of power today. Too many online complaints make your “values” appear as a marketing ploy.
Complaints by Employees
Current and past employees can do just as much damage to a company’s reputation as customers can both online and offline. How an employee is treated, in most cases, will define what they say about your company in the future; please remember this. Whatever values or mission you claim to have must apply to your employees as well.
Obviously there are times that employees need to be let go, but how they are let go can make all the difference in how they speak or write about you in the future.
Putting All of This Together
The main point I want to get across is that good business values are great to have and discuss, but they must seep into all aspects of your business structure and the people that uphold it. If you are going to use values in your marketing strategies please make sure that the values are there for more than marketing purposes. They must be a part of your business structure and passed on to customers and employees as well.