The Value of Listening: How feedback can be an opportunity to bring brand image to life

A recent article on Inc.com highlighted a truth that we at COPC Inc. have been promoting since our beginning — companies can always get better at delivering on their brand promise by listening to their customers. The article, which can be found here, focuses on the story of 5-year-old Alice Jacob.

Alice sent a letter to her favorite clothing store, GapKids, letting them know she wished their store carried a wider variety of clothes for little girls other than “just pink and princesses and stuff like that.” Alice’s letter went straight to the top of the company, and Alice received a personal response from Jeff Kirwan, CEO of Gap. In his note, Jeff admitted they could do better and told Alice how he was going to help the company get there. He also let Alice know her feedback was appreciated and included some free t-shirts from the company’s latest collection.

In the brand’s own words, “Gap embraces a youthful, infectious spirit and the freedom to express individual style.” By listening and responding as they did, the company walks the walk and talks the talk. This is so important because, for better or for worse, customers are paying closer attention to brand actions than ever before. Successful companies understand and appreciate that in order to know what their customers need and expect, they have to actually listen to them and then act on what they are saying in a way that is consistent with the company’s brand image.

Unsolicited feedback (like Alice’s) is great, and companies should most certainly have mechanisms in place to receive it, review it, AND act on it. But companies can’t just sit back and wait for opportunities like this to arrive in their in-boxes. Through initiatives like customer journey mapping and a customer-centric quality assurance program (one that’s aligned with CSAT results), brands can better walk in their customers’ shoes, listen to how customers really feel, and gain fresh perspective.

When companies have a variety of listening posts and processes to aggregate, analyze, and understand what their customers are saying, they’re sure to find opportunities to go way above and beyond customer expectations and bring their brand promise to life. With a little luck, they might even catch some PR-lightening in a bottle, just like Gap.

If you’re a retail brand looking to sharpen your view of your customer, I invite you to visit the COPC Inc. retail page. There you’ll find an infographic of retail-focused consumer research, retail case studies, and links with information on how you can get trained and certified in Customer Journey Mapping. If you think your company can do a better job of delivering on its brand promise, let COPC Inc.’s experience and expertise be your guide.

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