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The Authentic Company

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As social media has grown, a trend we view as very positive has emerged among consumers – they are increasingly seeking out and doing business with companies they consider to be authentic.

In today’s business environment, consumers and companies are more closely linked than they have ever been before. The internet, with its interactive web sites, social media sites, product review sites, etc. has inverted the relationship and the communication dynamic between a company and its customers. What was once a one-way street dominated and controlled by the voice of the company, is now a multi-lane highway controlled by the consumer. Information is so readily available that consumers researching a company can often entirely circumvent the company’s direct message. The result is a consumer that is more informed, more aware, more in control and ultimately looking for a deeper more authentic experience with the company with which they do business.

So, what does it mean to be authentic? In the broadest sense, it is as simple as staying true to who you are as a company. To be a trustworthy and reliable business partner. It is a philosophy that must permeate all levels of the company and include actions such as:

  • Clearly define your company’s mission and purpose and then convey this to your customers whenever possible. Sharing your purpose will help strengthen your image with your customers and separate you from your competition. In addition, it will help your customers better relate to you and increase the likelihood of them promoting or referring your business.
  • Focus on your core competencies and values. The idea here is to consistently provide a high quality and reliable product. Inconsistencies are frustrating for the consumer and undermine your image as a reliable business partner.
  • Don’t over extend or promise what you cannot deliver. Failing to deliver on promises is a sure way to lose customers and call into question your reliability. As reliability is closely linked to authenticity you damage both by failing to deliver on promises.
  • Address your customer’s questions and concerns in a timely manner. This includes any complaints that they may lodge. Your responsiveness helps build and strengthen your reputation.
  • Be honest with your customers.  Today’s savvy customers can see through embellishments and excuses for your short coming. Honesty goes a long way to building your image as a trustworthy business partner, even if it means sometimes having to tell your customer something they do not want to hear.
  • Take ownership of your actions. This goes for both positive and negative actions. Highlight and share positive actions through customer testimonials and reviews. Own up to any negative actions quickly and correct the problem before the customer can public complain on their favorite social media site.

The trend toward authenticity is expected to continue as we become a more virtual society. For companies looking to grow and succeed, taking steps now to be more authentic makes good business sense. Besides, the traits that make for an authentic company also make that company an all-around good corporate citizen and it is for this reason that we view this as a very positive trend.

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