There is a lot we can learn from great companies, big and small. Many books have been written about companies like Disney, Nordstrom, Ritz-Carlton and Apple. And, once we learn how they do it, the key is making it work for our companies. It’s not about just learning, but also about executing what we learned.
The reason I bring this up is that I was reading an article about the top global brands. Interbrand just released their Interbrand Best Global Brands list, and it won’t surprise you to find out which companies are at the top of the list. The winner this year, and for the sixth year in a row, was Apple, who nudged out Google at the number two position, which has owned that position for the past six years. Coming in third was Amazon. Think about how big these brands are and how they have woven their way into our culture.
So, how do these brands make the list? They are evaluated in ten areas, called “brand strengths.” Apple was a stand-out in three areas, which are engagement, differentiation and consistency. These three areas are what drives the experience at Apple. This is why their customers are in love with the company. And, there’s no reason why any company can’t do some of the same.
• Engagement: This starts with having active conversations with your customers, in person and online via the Apple website, social media or any other way the customer and Apple can engage with each other. How do you connect with your customers? How fast do you respond to their requests and comments? Do you promote online conversations that intrigue and engage your customers? Engagement is the first step toward making an emotional connection, one that starts to build a bond between you and your customer.
• Differentiation: Why should someone do business with you instead of your competition? Figure that out and you have a value proposition that helps separate you from others. The key is that it really is different. You can’t answer with “Because we have great customer service.” While it may be true, that’s an answer that your competitors might share. Find out what makes you truly different, something that your customer cares about, and exploit it.
• Consistency: I have talked about consistency many times over the years. Every time a customer has an interaction with the company, regardless of it being in person, on the phone or online, they have a similar experience. It’s simple: Customers love to know what to expect. A consistent and predictable experience creates confidence, which leads to trust, which can lead to loyalty.
Apple’s standout strengths can apply to any size company, large or small. Pay attention to how Apple treats its customers. Emulate some of their best practices. Metaphorically speaking, take a bite of the Apple!