An emotional connection between a brand and a customer can be a lucrative thing. Customers want to feel warmly disposed toward the organisation from which they’re buying. It’s easier to put your hand in your pocket and give your money to a company you like than one that you dislike, after all.
It’s therefore in the interest of your brand that you consider your reputation among your would-be customers, and to consider the expectations of those customers, too. But what does this mean in practice?
Customers want to invest in companies that treat their workers fairly, and that don’t have a negative impact on the world around them. This doesn’t mean getting preachy and wading into hot-button political debates (though there’s a place for that). It means making sure that your workers enjoy reasonably sound conditions, and that they’re paid fairly.
For example, a Sunday Times report into clothing brand Boohoo found that some Leicester-based factory workers were being paid just £3.50 per hour. As a result, shares in the Boohoo group plunged by 23%. The company was quick to disassociate itself from the manufacturer in question, but the reputational damage was already done.
The right payroll software will help you to ensure that your workers are being paid promptly and fairly, and to demonstrate that to would-be customers.
Customers want to know that they can trust the brands they invest in. This is something that’s built up steadily over time and can be lost in an instant of betrayal. That means you’ll have to spend time and energy winning trust back. Don’t use sensitive periods to gouge prices. Don’t be pushy in your sales techniques, or seek to swing public opinion through dishonest practices like paid-for reviews. Make sure that you have an ongoing rapport with your customer base so that potential issues can be flagged ahead of time.
Brands are being held responsible not just for what goes on internally, but for the wider world. Words like ‘sustainability’ are being thrown around with increasing abandon, to the extent that many brands have been accused of ‘greenwashing’ – that is, taking green issues and expressing a strong opinion on them that isn’t borne out by the company’s practices.
According to a report by Deloitte, customers value five things when it comes to sustainability and ethics. These are waste reduction, reduction of carbon footprints, sustainable packaging, a commitment to ethical working, and respect of human rights.
In the modern age, customers are expected to hand over vast amounts of their personal data to outside organisations and businesses. When those businesses fail to adequately safeguard that data, or they misuse it deliberately, they will suffer reputational consequences. What’s more, they might be exposed to legal risk, thanks to the European Union’s GDPR and related legislation in the UK, like the Data Protection Act 2018.