04 May Stars of Your Personal Brand
Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on May 12, 2015
When traveling, you remember and compare the experience you had at each hotel where you stayed. I group them in three categories, regardless of how many stars they say they have.
The first category is for hotels where you feel that their main mission is for you to have an excellent experience, sparing no effort for you to be satisfied, happy, and comfortable. This is evident in the quality of service, the warmth of the staff, and the care for details, always giving priority to your needs. These hotels have my absolute loyalty and I always recommend them.
In the second category are hotels where you feel that their business goal is to obtain more money from the customer. Make money and make it today. If they could charge us for turning on the television set or for using the shower, I think they would. Do they win or build my loyalty? Certainly not. Do I recommend them? Never.
The third category is the type of hotel where you feel that their business focuses on cutting costs. The infrastructure may be new or old, luxurious or simple, but what is important is saving money and doing so at the customer’s expense, obviously. You can feel it in everything: the poor quality of the soap, the scarcity of towels, and the pitiful breakfast buffet. Do I feel like recommending them? No.
Hotels are above all service companies where a customer experiences their business focus, mission, or purpose first-hand: customer satisfaction and respect; making more money; or cost control. And that experience then translates into the image and reputation of the brand and contributes to determining their prestige and long-term business success.
I think it is useful to draw a parallel between the hotel example and our personal brand as professional service providers. How our clients experience our services is a result of our life purpose or mission and a well-developed career plan. It will also depend on our service attitude, as well as how well we understand the needs of our clients in general, and, of course, on the results we deliver. All of this creates our reputation and the value of our personal brand over time.
But does it pay to have a good professional reputation, especially if it requires so much effort? Self-employed professionals –those whose names appear on the door– often see it more clearly. They know that their professional success is directly related to their service mission, the results they deliver, and the quality of service they provide. The more prestige and better well-earned reputation they obtain, the more clients they will have.
Business people who rely on their good name, ethics, and prestige to grow their business and win the loyalty of their clients also see it clearly. The fact is that a client feels the difference when a service company bases its strategy on customer satisfaction more than on the owner’s wallet or the manager’s bonus.
Seeing it just as clearly is a challenge for us employees who have a single client for our professional services, the one who pays our salary on a regular basis. This leads us to feel a false sense of professional security. We forget that our prestige and our career largely depend on our commitment to satisfying our customer, the one who is always measuring our performance!
Self-employed professionals know that their professional success is directly related to their service mission, the results they deliver, and the quality of service they provide.