It’s hard to imagine an aspect of our daily life that hasn’t changed dramatically in the past twelve months. In the business world, those who have evolved to meet new demands and adapt their business to the new global context have been successful.
While change has traditionally been viewed as disruptive, both customers and businesses are used to it, and this presents an opportunity. Everyone cares much more about how companies have adapted to the new normal than their previous reputations. By expressly demonstrating their commitment to strong new values, there are a number of areas in which companies can relatively easily build positive reputations quickly.
In the hospitality industry in particular, the use of technology and online channels is sometimes equated with the degradation of traditional approaches. Many long-established names even pride themselves on the lack of modern technology on their service. However, Covid-19 has made it clear that streamlined processes are required and where technology can step in to do the legwork.
With just a few innovative technology applications, companies can not only bring their brand into the 21st century, but also position themselves at the forefront of the digital transformation wave. For example, many old pubs are using innovative apps for track and trace purposes as well as improving customer experience, this is now the norm and a proven technology. By downloading the app before visiting a location, customers can check capacity before visiting, read the latest location updates, and book drinks and meals to be ready for their arrival. And as has been proven time and again, a good customer experience promotes brand loyalty.
By leveraging today’s technology, you can also greatly expand your potential audience and attract new loyal customers. This is especially important for sectors like the entertainment industry, whose future is uncertain. For example, London’s Royal Opera House, one of the UK’s oldest entertainment venues, has streamed opera and ballet performances for free during the various lockdowns, making a once inaccessible niche art form accessible to anyone interested in learning more.
Innovative customer engagement
Although physical gatherings were limited, the pandemic has shown how easy it is to keep in touch with people. There are a variety of channels through which we can connect, and the same goes for businesses with their customers. Businesses need to listen to their customers to find out how they are being affected. New business offerings should be strongly influenced by how the business had to change, but should be driven by how customer needs have changed.
In order to get in contact with customers, the collection of feedback and questions is essential and must be clearly implemented. If you keep getting requests for basic information like opening times, it needs to be more visible and accessible across all channels. Engagement can also be encouraged through creative content. Restaurants have shared their most sought-after recipes with customers, with expert chefs on hand to offer shortcuts at home.
After the Eat Out to Help Out program ended here in the UK, many restaurants received praise for continuing to recruit customers without government support. Another major blow to the hospitality industry was the 10 p.m. curfew for all bars and restaurants. However, the Hoxton Hotel is not discouraged and is offering a free hotel room to all diners who spend more than £ 200 in their Seabird or Rondo restaurants. By playing to your company’s strengths during these tough times, you will no doubt exceed customer expectations and build a positive reputation for yourself quickly.
Assess the competitive landscape
Before the pandemic, a healthy level of competition between companies in a sector would drive companies to do better. In the hospitality industry, this would mean competing for value for money or perhaps the best customer service on the market. However, in this harsh current landscape, it can be bad for the entire industry to continue this tooth and nail competition. We have already seen a “downward battle” in the hospitality sector, with companies continually lowering their prices to catch up with falling demand.
Instead of doing both your competitors and your own company a disservice, learn to embrace them by working together. By creating space for open discussion, you can reach mutually beneficial agreements and create something even greater than you could alone.
As you build your new reputation, keep in mind that it can only lead you down to your product or service. In every aspect of building a positive reputation, an explicit and consistent commitment to comparable values is key. Sharing your successes (and failures) in customization can be done in clear and creative ways, which makes your brand accessible and trustworthy.