You Are The Company You Keep

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Without getting all bridezilla on everyone, here’s the experience that ignited my fire and wrote this post: I’ve recently become engaged and while shopping around I fell in love with a venue, however, the events coordinator failed to effectively follow-up. I work full-time, go to school and now, I am planning a wedding. You better believe- if I am about to spend my hard-earned-cash at a venue and ask for a call on my lunch hour, I expect the courtesy. If it slips their mind once I will let it go, but twice makes me twitch and THREE times makes me cross them right off my list.

Which brings me to my point: the events coordinator of that venue was not the owner, she was, however, a representation of what I may expect had I chosen them to host my wedding.

It’s possible you too have built a flourishing brand of your own and are no longer the everyday face of your company, your brand. When you’re no longer answering your own phones or selling your own product it’s time to remember that you are the company you keep!

When you hire administrative support, sales associates or PR, they become your company. These employees interact with your customers, make sales, pursue follow-up, develop relationships, brainstorm ideas and engage future clients. All of the effort you’ve put into branding both yourself and your company can be tarnished by the company you keep.

Haven’t you ever had an experience where you’ve entered into a store completely ready to purchase merchandise, but the sales associate was rude, so you walked away? That discourteous sales associate became the company to you (for that brief instant). They lost a sale for their store and possibly tarnished a client’s attitude towards that stores brand.

It is so important to manage the company you keep; hire people who believe in your business, who love what they do and who realize how valuable they are to your survival.

It’s a theory that runs in friendship, business, teams and partnerships: Folks, YOU ARE THE COMPANY YOU KEEP!

Fellow readers: make me feel less like a bridezilla; have you learned a lesson from the people you’ve hired or have an experience where an employee of a brand you LOVE tarnished your relationship with the experience of shopping that brand? Please share your comments, stories and advice!

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8 thoughts on “You Are The Company You Keep

  1. I completely agree. I’m objective enough when I’m upset to realize that the guy on the phone or at the cash register is not the company. But the fact is that the company hired that person to represent them. I know the difference between an unfortunate situation and bad customer service. And I don’t spend money in places where I get bad customer service.

  2. Excellent article. As an Account Manager I constantly remind myself that my actions reflect the stategy/message/reputation of our company. The ‘front-line’ is key. That being said, providing the ‘front-line’ with proper customer sensitivity training, keeping them updated on business decisions and even making customer service part of everyone’s performance review is just as critical as having expectations that they will deliver. This should always be a two way path between management and the ‘company they keep’.

  3. I agree as a seasoned shop-a-holic I always seem to deal with this problem; I always say just because you are having a bad day doesn’t mean you have to bring it to work and rub it off on everyone else. One time I stood at the Chanel counter for over 15 minutes before anyone helped me and when it was my turn I was treated as if I was a pauper, so I made it known to the company and purchased the same product at another store that carried the brand. Snotty, rude customer service really damages the company in my opinion, but sometimes companies get what they pay for.

  4. Thanks for reading, ladies. There is, of course a difference between an employee having a bad day or an employee consistently under-performing what a brand promises.
    To Jen’s point I have DEFINITELY gone to boutiques or counters and been treated as though I couldn’t afford their merchandise (and sometimes I can’t, but heck – who are they to judge me? lol). And sure, I see it more in large retail stores, but when you’re working with a boutique retailer, a wedding venue, a restaurant or a small business – there is NO reason to have employees who don’t reflect your brand promises (especially with unemployment rates SO high and highly qualified associates looking for work!) .

  5. Kristen, Great article!! Let me start by saying I read a lot of the postings on STOTW and very rarely reply. Well this article hit close to my heart! It is my pet peeve walking or calling into a company and getting an attitude from a disgruntled employee. Or better yet the feeling that my asking for assistance is putting such a damper on someone’s day. This circles back to the old adage that first impressions are lasting. What many companies fail to realize is how their staff (i.e. secretaries, managers, customer service reps etc.) have such a direct impact on their business. The company you keep is your one and only chance to make an enduring impression. No matter how much a company spends on Marketing/Branding, it all means NOTHING when a customer or potential customer calls into the company or visits a store and has a bad experience (generally at the mercy of a front-line associate). All the flashy commercials, billboards, radio ads, and even coupon/promotional codes go right out the window. For a company to obtain and maintain success, they need to realize that they truly are THE COMPANY THEY KEEP.

  6. First off, let me say congratulations..seems like way too long since we shared time in Las Vegas. I totally agree. I have tried to get over those instances when I feel like I need to “train” those CSR’s.

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