It’s hard to think of an aspect of our daily lives that hasn’t changed dramatically over the last twelve months. In the world of business, those that have succeeded have been those evolving to meet new demands and have transformed their company to fit the new global context.
While change has traditionally been seen as disruptive, both customers and businesses are now accustomed to it and this presents an opportunity. Everyone is far more interested in how businesses have adapted to the new normal, rather than their previous reputation. Through explicitly demonstrating their commitment to strong new values, there are a number of areas that companies can, with relative ease, rapidly build a positive reputation.
Especially in the hospitality sector, the use of technology and online channels has in some cases been equated with the degradation of a traditional way of doing things. Many legacy names even pride themselves on the lack of modern technology in their services. However, Covid-19 has highlighted the need for optimised processes and where technology can step in to take up the leg work.
With just a few innovative uses of technology, businesses can not only bring their brand into the 21st Century, but place themselves at the forefront of the digital transformation wave. For example, many old pubs are adopting innovative apps for track and trace purposes as well as improving customer experience, these are now the norm and a proven adopted technology. By downloading the app before visiting a location, customers can check capacity ahead of a visit, read the latest venue updates and book drinks and meals to be ready for their arrival. And as proven time and time again, good customer experience powers brand loyalty.
By embracing today’s technology, you can also greatly expand your potential audience and capture new loyal customers. This is especially important for sectors like the entertainment industry where its future remains uncertain. For instance, the London Royal Opera House, one of the oldest entertainment institutions in the UK, throughout the various lockdowns has been streaming opera and ballet performances for free, opening what was once seen as an inaccessible and niche artform up to anyone interested in learning more.
Innovative Customer Engagement
Although physical gatherings have been limited, the pandemic has highlighted how easy it is to stay in touch with people. There are a multitude of channels for us to connect with each other, and the same can be said for businesses with their customers. Companies need to listen to their customers to hear how they have been affected. New business offerings, whilst greatly impacted by how the business has been forced to change, should be driven by how the customer needs have changed.
To engage with customers, capturing feedback and questions is essential and needs to be clearly acted upon. If you constantly receive requests for basic information like opening times, it needs to be more visible and accessible across channels. Engagement can also be fostered in creative content. Restaurants have been sharing their most sought after recipes with customers, with expert chefs on hand to offer at-home shortcuts.
After the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme ended here in the UK, many restaurants were applauded for continuing the customer promotion without the government’s support. Another huge blow to the hospitality industry has been the 10 pm curfew for all bars and restaurants. However, the Hoxton Hotel, rather than be despondent, is offering a free hotel room for any guests that spend over £200 in their Seabird or Rondo restaurants. By playing to your company’s strengths during these difficult times, you will undoubtedly exceed customer expectations to quickly build a positive reputation.
Evaluate the Competitive Landscape
Pre-pandemic, a healthy amount of competition between businesses in a sector would push companies to be better. Within the hospitality industry, this would mean competing for value for money, or perhaps the best customer service on the market. However, during this harsh current landscape, continuing this tooth and nail competition can be bad for the industry as a whole. Within the hotel sector, we have already seen a ‘fight to the bottom’ with businesses continually lowering their prices to chase the dwindling demand.
Instead of doing both your competitors and your own business a disservice, learn to embrace them through collaboration. By creating spaces for open discussions, you can come to mutually beneficial agreements and create something even greater than you could on your own.
Throughout building your new reputation, remember that it can only carry you as far as your product or service. In any aspect of building a positive reputation, explicitly and consistently committing to relatable values is key. Sharing your successes (and failures) in adapting can be done in a clear and creative way, which will make your brand accessible and trustworthy.