What makes it so difficult to identify a potentially toxic situation in the organization has much to do with how your employees and customers react to a dysfunctional process. Sometimes, this can be a part of the problem, making it harder for brand stewards to navigate away from crisis situations at a time when the possibility of containment still exists. As the global mind-set shifts from profitability to sustainability, it becomes especially useful to evaluate the ways in which brand reputation can be protection while consistently delivering on stakeholder expectations and maintaining the bottom line.
Professional services firms had not, until the sub-prime crisis its subsequent fallout, felt the need to differentiate themselves. For this reason, they did not feel the need to take risks – even though the nature of the risks which they did undertake were different and vastly more damaging to the market as a whole. The need to brand a unique proposition did not quite make the priority, and for outsourcing industries, winning contracts was mostly about making pricing more competitive and increasing the number of exit options, providing exclusivity and sometimes, innovating ahead of peers.
As offshoring shrinks and companies are pulled onshore in order to protect jobs and better utilize automation processes and the technological opportunity offered by the advent and increasing application of artificial intelligence, it makes sense to evaluate what are the competitive advantages which are going to let such firms retain their business. It is thus fair to presume that a lot of the traditional brands are broken in more ways than one, and facing challenges when it comes to implementing change without affecting revenues.
Here are the first 3 steps that will tell you if your brand works in a dynamic services marketplace.
This is the very first question that needs to be answered. Why? Referral business is a direct measure of innovation. It means that your firm is staying relevant in the minds of your customers. Referral traffic is a good indicator that your brand remains new and also delivers impactful results.
Remember, it’s not just referral customers that help organisations thrive. Referral employees can go on to acquire huge equity in the success of a company and in turn, create communities and client networks which form highly responsive business development channels.
The immediate requirement which forms the basis of segmentation of your primary audience makes it difficult for such an audience to offer more sustained feedback where brand perception is concerned. Since the totality of their experience relies on a need where success is determinable, it usually leaves out the non-functional aspects of a brand, but critical nonetheless in establishing affinity and over time, loyalty.
Evangelising a secondary audience implies that your services are acquiring relevance in the mind of a larger market than that which you are targeting in the short term, and this leads to immense value creation in the mid-to-long term when most other businesses witness a degree of slowdown or saturation, what is called plateauing.
Where the need changes, so must its fulfilment. Given the vast transformation that legacy businesses are undergoing, it makes sense that your company, had it grown to capture adjacencies, would not be in the same business in which it first started. This phenomenon must be visible in the mid-term, where most product companies tend to pivot. While it may take longer in services organizations where diversifying the skills of the workforce takes longer to gestate, it still needs to be a visible change.
Coming to terms with the answers to these questions must be difficult, and must ultimately answer the question – does your professional services brand need overhaul. This is the time when advisors, experts, and most importantly, founders and management must be sought for a conversation on how to reinvent the brand without losing loyalists.
Commwiser is a specialist Firm focusing on Professional Services and Technology space. Services portfolio includes, Strategic Counsel, Media relations, Market Research, Digital and Social Media integration and stakeholder mapping and engagement.