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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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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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