“Customers evaluate companies on a variety of parameters. Companies can put in place development, marketing, and support processes to lower the perceived risk,” – James Thompson
The competitive markets of modern times have helped to germinate many companies that have gained lofty heights in the fullness of time. That said, a less known reality pertains to the fact that modern customers have come of age as a by-product of competitive market. The modern customer is essentially a networked, fully informed individual that has a point of view in terms of products and services being offered in the market. Modern customers increasingly tend to evaluate companies on a raft of parameters, product features, service standards, the public image or reputation of a company, etc. Customers have the power and the ability to decide corporate fortunes and this must be borne in mind by all brands and businesses.
Financially literate customers can evaluate companies by perusing their financial performance over a certain time frame. This analysis enabled customers to form a cogent picture of the company’s track record in terms of delivering on critical business objectives, such as profit and loss, earnings per share, etc. For instance, customers can evaluate an automobile manufacturer by analysing its balance sheets and checking on important milestones. These can include the incremental sales registered per calendar quarter, the cost of debt being serviced by said manufacturer, the market traction of the various models sold, the amount of dividends offered to stake holders, market performance compared to the competition, etc. These parameters enable customers to create a complete picture of the historical performance of the car company.
Some customers may choose to evaluate companies based on the quality of their publicity campaigns. We may note that this appears to be a superficial method of evaluating a brand or a business, but nonetheless comprises a valid evaluation criteria. This method of evaluation takes into account the level of engagement deployed by the company. An impactful commercial campaign may indicate that the company is sincere about its marketing efforts and is willing to invest substantial outlays in creating its corporate message. For instance, a food brand may earn a market reputation based on glitzy advertisement campaigns that promote its various products. The high visibility of such campaigns creates a certain impression in the minds of customers and therefore, helps to generate brand equity and a stable business reputation. This method to evaluate companies is largely based on public perception and enabled companies to acquire significant mind share among public audiences.
Interesting evaluations can proceed from the visual analysis of a company’s annual general meeting. We must bear in mind that such congregations offer stakeholders a chance to interact with corporate managements and to evaluate companies based on these interactions. For instance, smartly attired management personnel can help create a positive impression that drives customer perceptions. The visual and vocal interactions at said meetings can enable a detached analysis of the motivations that drive company operations. At the same time, customers and other stakeholders can view the proceedings through the lens of past promises and current corporate actions that seek to fulfil those undertakings. This approach to evaluate companies requires cerebral processing on the part of customers because corporate managements remain answerable to their stakeholders at all times.
Corporate social responsibility has emerged as a major corporate milestone. Customers can use this approach to evaluate companies in terms of goals achieved during a certain year or calendar quarter. The amount of funds devoted to such activities and the level of stewardship can be the parameters considered to assess progress in such projects. We must note that corporate social responsibility has evolved into a serious pursuit for interested brands and companies; therefore, any evaluation should be based on hard facts and ground realities. That said, when customers evaluate companies on such metrics, they tend to form a holistic view of corporate actions and intentions, rather than stressing on pure numbers that populate the balance sheet.
Product quality and service delivery form crucial aspects of corporate performance. Hence, investors and customers can use these criteria to evaluate companies. We must note that said parameters create an immediate impact on customers and significantly influence the commercial prospects of a business in competitive markets. For instance, a commercial organisation that manufactures and markets cosmetics brands and products can ill afford to sell sub-standard product pieces because such accidents would decimate its market reputation. In a similar vein, impeccable service delivery standards can help a telecommunications service provider to attain a command position in its market. In light of the above, we may note that customers have a valid viewpoint when they choose to evaluate companies based on their products and services.
Customer satisfaction is a key metric that drives customer assessments when they evaluate companies. For instance, a happy customer is more likely to rate a business or an enterprise higher than its peers in the market. The said customer may choose to broadcast his or her views on social media platforms, thereby creating a wave of approval among other social media users and potential customers. This information can help other customers to evaluate the business in a positive light, thereby triggering a virtuous circle. That said, we note that the brand or business should exert itself to create legions of satisfied customers in a bid to drive positive publicity. These actions can help the business to consolidate its market reputation and profit from positive customer evaluations. In addition, the brand or business can choose to instil internal processes to safeguard its brand reputation and to sustain the very real gains generated by high customer satisfaction levels.
Addressing customer needs and requirements as tenets of corporate policy can influence how customers evaluate companies. A business enterprise that seriously commits itself to said actions can be evaluated in terms of the demonstrable progress achieved on such parameters. For instance, a retail business can seek customer inputs and initiate action to translate the suggestions into viable business practices. The achievements registered under such initiatives can help the company to mould its public perception and gain customer goodwill. Future customers can evaluate said business operator on these metrics and thereby form an impression about the retail business operator. We must note that these impressions are instrumental to help the business to expand its customer base and create the groundwork for similar gains in the future.
In the preceding paragraphs, we have surveyed some of the methods that can be used by customers to evaluate companies. Brands and businesses must note that customers and markets are essentially sensitive entities that can make or mar business reputations. Therefore, every business enterprise should exert itself to deliver the promised value to every individual customer. These actions help to sustain a business, burnish market reputations, and to multiply customer goodwill in fickle markets. In addition, every brand or business operates in the public domain and remains susceptible to constant customer attention. This should spur corporate captains and business managers to create and sustain worthwhile business practices that resonate well with every customer segment. Businesses should also encourage customer scrutiny as part of business practices because the outcome can only help a brand or business to perform better and emerge that much stronger.