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4 Strategic Tools for Protecting Your Brand’s Reputation for Reliability

4 Strategic Tools for Protecting Your Brand’s Reputation for Reliability

As Warren Buffett is famous for saying, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

In that context, your company’s brand is a massive liability. It is incredibly difficult to build up its reputation, and in the world of 24/7 internet reviews and viral sensations, it can only take one misstep to completely destroy it.

If you want to protect your company’s reputation, and prove that you’re a reliable provider to both current and future customers, you need to utilize these four strategic tools.

1. Facebook and Twitter Customer Contact

When a customer has an issue, they’re going to tell friends and family. In fact, a recent study found that customers are 95% likely to share a poor experience with others. Only 85% of those surveyed could recall telling someone about a positive experience with a brand or service. In the world of smartphones, tablets and computers, that sharing is happening via social media.

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Your company needs a proactive social media policy that accomplishes the following:

  • Identify positive and negative brand mentions and interactions online.
  • Establish contact with dissatisfied customers, and thank satisfied customers for the mention.
  • Publicly invite dissatisfied customers to make immediate, personal contact with a team member that can resolve their issue.
  • Create content that positively highlights the brand’s USP’s.

2. Proactively Monitor Service Reliability

If you want to identify a hero at creating reliable customer solutions, look at Apple. The Cupertino firm leads the traditional PC manufacturers by double digits in customer satisfaction and component reliability according to Consumer Reports. This is a big part of why Apple is sitting on more cash than the US Government has on hand.

Depending on the type of company you operate, and the services you offer your customers, your needs for monitoring your reliability in real-time will change slightly. Here are a few tools to consider implementing:

  • Database Management and Monitoring Software
  • Independent contractors must be utilized to reliably survey customer satisfaction.
  • Hire mystery shoppers to test your systems and product experience.
  • Actively monitor customer engagement; repeat orders, average basket size, etc.

3. Perform Background Checks on Business Partners and Outside Vendors

When your company expands and scales, you’ll inevitably end up working with outside vendors to supplement your existing offering. As you bring on partners, carefully perform background checks to thoroughly vet potential relationships. Creating a partnership with a company that drops the ball will directly impact your company’s reputation.

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For example, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and many other cellular service providers utilize a company called Asurion to administer their hardware insurance services. I can tell you from first-hand experience, working with them to fix or replace a broken phone is a nightmare. I have switched to an alternate provider on more than one occasion due to their failure to provide quick and reasonable service.

Don’t let your company fall into the trap of outsourcing to shoddy vendors. Your customers will punish you for it. It could be the thing that keeps your business from becoming an iconic brand. One of the most iconic brands, the world over, is Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Media. The vast majority of their business revolves around licensing arrangements, which resulted from the reputation of the brand.

As a recent article points out, “Virgin’s popularity as a brand in the eighties far outstripped its market size and it achieved this simply by challenging everything that our well-established long-haul airline market was built on, publically upsetting the applecart in the process. It has stood by these values ever since and people continue to love the brand for flying in the face of the establishment.”

Becoming an iconic brand requires strong partnerships with reliable 3rd parties, especially if you’re looking to “upset the applecart”.

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4. Utilize Strong Security Software and Policies

Customer data breaches are becoming increasingly common. In 2015 alone there were 781 individually reported data breaches of customer data at a corporate level. This means hackers are able to penetrate a corporation’s firewall and access credit card information, billing addresses, names and potentially social security numbers of customers that utilize a product or service.

According to some reports, the average data breach causes at least $3.79 million dollars in damage to the companies that fall victim to these attacks. These damages take the form of lost sales, higher operating costs and customer losses due to the attacks. Don’t leave your company vulnerable to this kind of loss.

To protect yourself and your company, there are some basic protocols that can be followed:

  • Limit personal devices connected to corporate infrastructure.
  • Mandate randomized passwords that are changed monthly on all systems.
  • Encrypt corporate data before transmitting.
  • Aggressively limit employee access to internal data.
  • Insure that terminated employees lose access prior to termination.
  • Use robust hosting with powerful hardware, software and 24/7 support.
  • Educate employees on common tactics used by hackers to gain entry through phishing scams and other illegitimate means.

In A Connected World, Reputations Are Lost in A Flash

Your company and your personal reputation are incredibly important to your ability to conduct future business. Don’t let software snags, hackers, or unreliable vendors cause unnecessary damage to your brand’s reputation for providing a reliable service. You have the power to protect your company, and the four steps mentioned above offer an excellent starting point.

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Are you prepared to do what it takes to provide excellent service and protect your company’s reputation?

Featured photo credit: Cydcor via flickr.com

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Ahmed Raza

CEO of Samurais.co

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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