Monday, March 09, 2015

4 Ways Your Business Can Build #Trust With Customers


4 Ways Your Business Can Build Trust With Customers
by Stephen Abbott of Abbott Media Group

People will do business with those that they trust. Public Relations can help to build that trust.

There are several ways a business can begin to build trust with their customers and future (potential) customers. Among them are Consistency, Courtesy, Care, and Community Involvement.

Being Consistent is critically important to a business. There's a reason why restaurants, pet stores, hotels, and hardware chains, among others, are so popular. Ideally, they offer consistent service and products offered professionally in multiple locations. Customers know they can get the same products and services offered for about the same price, wherever they go. For some, that may seem "boring," but customers actually yearn for boring over the alternative: inconsistent service and the inability to get their favorite products. Public Relations professionals can guide a business to accept and disseminate internal policies and standard graphics and messaging that will help create a consistent experience for customers.

Courtesy is also an important factor in building Trust. If service is offered in a cold manner, or worse, in a rude manner, the bond of Trust between a customer and a business is broken. This is even the case in a long-term relationship. There's no such thing anymore as a small incident of discourteous conduct. Even one incident in which a customer is treated poorly can ruin a company's reputation in this era of instant online reviews. A Public Relations professional can help isolate and identify areas in which internal standards aren't being met, and can, once those are addressed, help repair and rebuild Trust with customers who experienced a lack of courtesy during a business transaction.

Care is shown in a multitude of ways by a business, and customers recognize when it's not there, contributing to a lack of Trust. Products or services offered in a sloppy, slapdash way can instantly signal to the customer that the business doesn't really care about them. Caring isn't a small thing, it's a major thing, and in fact, should be the top concern of any business. If you're not in business to care for the customer, why are you in business at all? Care can be demonstrated by proper training and internal messaging that makes it clear that business owners have high expectations of their employees. PR can deliver those messages in a compelling and clear way that leaves no doubt that Care is required from everyone.

Finally, Community Involvement can be a tremendous trust-building tool. While some effort should be made not to alienate a customer base with involvement with overtly political or controversial causes, showing concern for one's community is more than a gimmick to grab headlines. Instead, it shows that a business is intimately tied to the community in which they do business, and that they care about their customers' well-being, more than just as a source of cash. Public Relations professionals can help identify community activities that reflect well on a business and help show that concern that leads to stronger feelings of trust with their current and future customers.

For more information about building Trust, visit Abbott Media Group at www.abbottmediagroup.com.

Friday, January 30, 2015

4 Keys to Building a Positive #Reputation [Abbott Media Group]


Your reputation - how you're perceived by others - is bound up in a host of factors, the most important of which your clients or customers are observing when they interact with you, or when they interact with people who have had dealings with you.

And in this Internet age, even millions who have never dealt with you can form an opinion of you based on what OTHERS who have never heard of you are saying!

So it's more important than ever to take control of your reputation and mold it in a favorable way, because uninformed people and forces well beyond your control will take hold of it if you don't. An like a boat that's left un-moored at the  dock, it will be drawn out by the tides and tossed with the winds whichever way they choose.

What factors will help "tie down" your reputation so these capricious winds can't get hold of it?

1. First to consider is the quality of your service or product. No amount of PR can paper over a consistently horrible product. The job of PR isn't to make a bad thing look great, because people can easily see through a snow job. And that snow job boomerangs back onto you rather quickly. But a great product, well conceived, unique and useful to customers, speaks for itself. The core of a good reputation is something of good repute to give to the world.

2. Similar to the first, the second point is to ensure that the way in which you deliver products or services is professional. It's not enough to have a great product or service. If you deliver it without passion, care and true professionalism, it will still be seen as a "negative." Having great food will bring them back to the restaurant. Once or twice. But a rude wait staff will cause them to forgo the experience again, and lead to bad-mouthing online.

3. How you treat your clients and customers is the third point that can make or break your reputation. Not only will an overworked and under-appreciated staff be less productive, they'll fall down on points 1 and 2 - the quality of the product and the professionalism of how it's delivered to the customer or client. You'll also experience heavier turnover of staff, and dozens or thousands of unhappy former employees again will not bode well for your company's reputation.

4. The final point of reputation is how the public perceives the good you do in the community. Good works is a plus and definitely has value in Public Relations and reputation-building efforts. In fact, it's seen by many as the key tool in the tool bag of Public Relations. While it can be over-used and its value overstated, good works done in the community is counted as a positive and helps "move the needle" towards a good reputation. However, as noted in 1 above, no amount of good deeds (charity and other things that are unrelated to your business model) can paper over a horrible product, poorly delivered, by unhappy or disgruntled employees. And doing charity work as a way to paper over some bad press is transparent, and is easily seen for the fraudulent effort it is.

All of these keys to a good reputation work together to create a positive reputation among your "publics." This includes your current customers, your past customers, your future customers, your employees, local and regional news media, these publics and others online, and those these various groups happen to encounter second- and third-hand.

A professional Public Relations person who is skilled in how to build a positive image for you and your business can reach out to these groups, tailoring just the right messages for each.

Let Abbott Media Group's PR division help you present these to publics that need to hear more about what you're doing!

Abbott Media Group

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#SydneyCafe Hostage Drama Showed Power of #SocialMedia

During the ‪#‎SydneyCafe‬ hostage crisis on December 15, once again the power and importance of ‪social media and the Internet as major sources how we get ‪news in the 21st Century was on full display.

It seems with every major event - be it a natural disaster, a political event, an entertainment death, or a terrorist event such as this one - the Age of the Internet shows just how interconnected the world has become, and how events even on the other side of the world can reach out and change us and our attitudes.

While cable news kept to their scheduled, pre-taped shows, millions, like me, streamed Australian TV stations live throughout the world, and we followed frequent twitter and facebook updates, and made many of our own observations, passing along data as it became known.

The dangers and pitfalls of the immediacy of Social Media as a source of news were also on full display.

Misinformation was rife - one online newspaper flashed a screenshot of a supposed twitter feed of an Islamic terror group taking credit for the Lindt cafe attack, only to be discovered later that it was a "parody" account, much to the paper's embarrassment (though the correction was swift - another benefit of instant media.)

Speculation was also rampant, with fears that this was a carefully coordinate attack with others immanent, rather than (as it turned out) a lone gunman who was facing charges in other cases and who was well-known to police and local Muslims as a fake, wanna-be Imam.

But the same could be said of TV reports, streaming from Australia (and eventually from the US) which were desperately trying to fill the air with speculative statements that turned out to be just that.

Coming back to the TV networks in the US, what was shocking was their failure to break in and report the news on what in the US was a lazy Sunday afternoon. FOX News, which seems obsessed with reporting on Islamic extremist terrorism, eventually, hours after the attack began, broke in on a re-run of "Huckabee" to show a rather nervous young woman - whom they had apparently just thrown in front of the camera -  stumbling through the basic facts, before letting an Australian news network stream for a few moments, then back to regular programming. CNN also broke into regular programming, but only for a half hour.

Blame cutbacks or the fact that it was Sunday, but the coverage was inexcusably poor, especially since this could have ended up much worse than it did.

The real winner of the day, in terms of coverage, was Bloomberg TV. With offices in Sydney just above the chocolate shop, the network dominated coverage and broke away with business news and other commentary in just the right balance, proving that there was no reason the older networks couldn't have done the same.

Meanwhile, twitter again, as in the Arab Spring and in other major events, demonstrated the sheer power of crowd-sourced news to demonstrate how well it can inform us.

The world has changed. When will the ‪Mass Media‬ catch up? Only time will tell whether they'll wake up to the changes, or whether they'll go the way of the "Big Three" American networks' news departments: a shadow of what they once were, and irrelevant.

Stephen Abbott
Principal, The Abbott Media Group‬

Also visit: World Politics News, dedicated to expanding our knowledge of politics around the world