One of the most wonderful transformations that I believe social media has brought about is the destruction of the perfect brand. No longer do consumers expect perfection… but we do expect honesty, customer service, and fulfillment of any promises a company set expectations for.
In a client luncheon last week at Bitwise Solutions, President and CEO Ron Brumbarger told his clients that Bitwise will make mistakes… but that they would always do their best to recover fully from them and look out for the interests of the client. There were quite a few key clients around the table – and the reaction couldn't have been more optimistic. There was a unanimous complimenting of the customer service and support that Bitwise employees provided.
IMHO, great brand managers always used to do an amazing job of maintaing brand perfection by consistent messaging, graphics, and public relations. Those days are behind us now, though, since companies can no longer control or manipulate social media and what consumers and clients are saying about them. Your customers now hold the key to your brand.
That may seem scary at first… your company may be scrambling to keep their perfect brand alive. Don't worry about it. In fact… stop it. You're doing more damage to your company by trying to cover its blemishes than by announcing them in the open. Every company has strengths and weaknesses and ever consumer and client expects problems to occur. It's not the mistakes that happen, it's how your company recovers from them.
Even within product ratings and reviews, this is the case. A 5-star rating may actually hurt your sales rather than help them. As I read product reviews, I tend to navigate directly to the negative reviews. I don't skip the purchase, though. Instead, in reviewing the negative comments, I decide whether or not those are weaknesses that I can live with. Sell me a great gadget with terrible documentation any day! I don't read product manuals.
When I see a 5-star rating, I typically leave the review altogether and look elsewhere. Nothing is perfect and I want to be informed of the imperfections. I don't buy perfection anymore. I don't believe in perfection anymore. At an e-commerce presentation last year, a major electronics manufacturer said that perfect reviews often hurt their product sales. No one else believes in perfection, either.
It may seem illogical, but you may want to market your strengths and fully admit your weaknesses if you'd like to increase sales, set expectations, and be able to fulfill them. A happy customer isn't a customer with a perfect product… it's a customer that's happy with your company, how well they've executed, and – most of all – how well you've recovered from your mistakes or failures.