Written by Kosisochukwu Ikeme
Starting a business is one thing, building a business that not only stands the test of time but leaves lasting positive impressions on your clients, is another. My colleagues and I went out for some drinks at a new spot one of us had discovered; we decided it will be great to give it a shot. We all got there and sat back to take in the space; cool spot, great brand name. They took it up a notch by incorporating the name in their choice of materials for the interior design. Ingenious! The attendants were all smartly dressed in lovely branded T-shirts and the setting had a lovely rooftop view.
Generally, they had ticked off a few boxes on my list of what a great brand should be, but in a few minutes I was forced to rethink my review. More than 20minutes after our arrival, no attendant had come to take our order and efforts to call their attention were futile. So much for a great space, hmmm!
Eventually, we caught the attention of one of the attendants and a plain, ill-crafted menu was given to us. We expected that a menu befitting the space and design flow will be presented, but it was a mere A4 sheet with black print. No lamination, no art, nothing!
Anyway, we placed our orders but were gobsmacked at the cluelessness of the attendant when one of us had a few questions about the meal she intended to order. The platter of surprises was far from full as they kept serving more disappointments. After the stipulated time that they gave for our meals to be ready, we neither saw Chinaware nor silver cutlery and none of the waiters had the courtesy to apologize for the delay or affirm the food was getting prepared. After a prolonged wait, the food was served and it took complaints from us to elicit an apology from the attendant, who obviously had little or no training or knowledge on the rudiments of customer service.
Though the meal and ambience were wonderful, we had definitely struck off coming back to the establishment neither were we going to recommend it to anyone we knew. We were put-off by the poor service and nonchalant employees so much that we had no good reviews to put up. What’s the point in this?
At times, people think once you have a building with aesthetics and can afford some labour, your business is set. Not so! Branding a business goes beyond the buildings, aesthetics and employing people who wear uniforms; a distinct personality has to be created for your business in every way possible. Though the establishment in our aforementioned story had a desirable ambience (first impression), the services failed to portray a good ‘personality’ (character and conduct). If they had paid some attention to adequately training their staff to understand the importance of quality service as well as the vision, mission and core values, maybe the outcome would have been different.
Once the basics are addressed, your business will be sure-footed on its way to becoming a brand in every ramification; from name to service delivery. Once your customers are pleased with what your brand offers, ALOHA! to awesome reviews and customers that know your worth and will gladly pay for your services while they invite others to drink from the fountain of your proven brand!
If you will remember one thing, it is this;
Branding begins its journey from internal coordination before it gets to external communications.
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During the era of Nazi Germany, a secret-police organization was created to deal with persons suspected of disloyalty; they employed even crude means in carrying out this task.
While extreme measures may not be employed in their case, employers often treat their employees as corporate slaves. They pay the salaries, so employees should just keep quiet and do the bidding of the masters. Anything outside that is perceived as disloyalty or even treachery in worse cases. Such employers are not concerned about the reservations employees may have about the operations of the organization, and that is where they start missing out on crucial feedback that could help in shaping the organization better.
When the employers eventually get to ask employees if they have any comments or opinions to share, the employees opt to stay mute for fear of being victimized unless such a comment is in favour of the powers that be, just like the Gestapo operated. Supposed team members would rather stomach their reservations than risk being in the black book of the masters, that’s if their jobs aren’t even threatened. This is so because the culture of feedback is in actual sense non-existent in the organization, and I daresay many Nigerian and African organizations. Our understanding of power seems be a function of might and self-assertion.
And so, the unexpressed reservations eventually reflect in the form of nonchalance, it’s sometimes the reason why customer care representatives don’t give their all in serving clients, asides personal attitudinal flaws. A team that is less passionate about driving the organization’s vision, functioning in a more or less dispirited environment, and working the job just to earn a living and nothing more, truly cannot be as outstanding as the organization desire.
Let’s consider the personal relationships in our lives. It is at the point people no longer feel free to express their reservations that our relationship starts going awry. Our associates, friends and family owe it to us as a duty to express their reservations in line with the terms of engagement, so adjustments can be made where necessary and corrections taken as well and we also have the responsibility of giving them our ears so they can let it all out.
Stronger relationships can only be forged when we can freely express both the pleasant and unpleasant observations and also be willing to listen to others when they do same. This should not be mistaken for being swayed by the expectations of others, no. It also doesn’t mean organizations should pander to the dictates of their employees, far from that. What this means is that we value relationships, even with organizations, so much that we don’t take for granted anything that could possibly threaten it.
There should be a feedback system that ensures no one is victimized for expressing concerns that doesn’t conform to the soothing desires of management. Corporate organizations must have that moment of truth within its team, that’s how solid and well bonded teams are built.
It is profitable to harness strength out of divergent viewpoints instead of bludgeoning people into acquiescence.
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