Reputation Is Not Just Lip Service
Have you ever steered away from a brand, whether you intentionally do it or not? Perhaps your experience in dealing with an employee from the company has left you with a bitter aftertaste. Or you disagree with the company’s stand regarding a social or political issue.
I have. To date, I still deliberately exclude certain brands from my shopping list because of my past ugly experiences with them as my clients. Sure, we all agree that there will be demanding clients, and you may say, for goodness sake, just let it go. Still, these select few companies would take the crown for being absolutely unreasonable and highly demanding clients who have no regard for professionalism or your time.
What I’m trying to drive at is that a company’s reputation goes beyond just the superficial product and service quality level. It is an accumulation of various factors from the organisation culture, stakeholder relationship, product and service delivery, to the company’s financial performance, to name a few.
For example, the company’s employees are also the company’s ambassadors. How they behave and treat their business partners, and customers say a lot about the company culture. Interaction with these ambassadors will, in turn, determine whether business partners like myself will become the company’s advocate or detractor.
Organisational Culture sets The Tone For Reputation
A good organisational culture is crucial to the success and overall health of a company, its people, and the customers. It defines the company’s internal and external identity. It guides how the people in the company interact with each other and the world, specifically the customers, business partners, suppliers, media, and other stakeholders.
The culture will echo across all aspects of the company’s business because it represents how the company does business, which will determine how the employees and consumers perceive the company.
Good Reputation Contributes To Healthier Bottom Line
A good reputation is not just something nice to have. Companies with solid reputations see a measurable impact on their bottom lines. This means that companies with better corporate reputations find it easier to bounce back from poor financial performance to return to profitability and sustain superior financial performance outcomes over time.
These companies tend to enjoy high levels of customer loyalty and employee motivation. Customers are willing to pay more for the products and services from companies with a good reputation. They make excellent advocates for companies, too. Who make more credible promoters, if not fans who are already customers themselves? Such positive connections that customers have with the companies help extend the customers’ lifetime value, thus reducing the high costs associated with new customer acquisition.
Employees also prefer to work for companies with a good reputation and do not mind working hard even if they are paid lower salaries. Companies with good reputations find it easier to attract and retain good talents. Conversely, a company with a bad reputation tends to pay more in compensation to convince a candidate to accept a job offer at the company.
Building Reputation Resilience
Today’s customers are highly informed and empowered. Companies are expected to live up to their values and consistently deliver on their promises. If they slip, customers will have no second thought about calling them out and putting them to the torch.
Reputational risk can be managed through actively listening to what people say (monitor) and genuinely engaging with stakeholders (respond). A reputation management plan includes distributing positive messages to the right audiences through advertising, media-driven public relations, social media, or even word-of-mouth.
Reputation is all about authenticity and transparency, too. The digital age that we live in means information is available in real-time to customers, investors, and employees. With the power of social media, one disgruntled customer is all it takes for a company to go viral for all the wrong reasons. It is no longer possible for companies to sweep the dirt under the carpet.
Thus, coming forward and admitting to mistakes while genuinely looking for ways to fix them will score companies points on reputation than trying to hide behind them. Transparency begets trust.
Take Action Now
These are just a few reasons why reputation management is essential, but they give us a good starting point to think about how companies manage their reputation.
The question is, where do companies start? Look at how the media portray the companies, find out what people say about and think of them, and follow up with a reputation measurement. The goal is to discover opportunities and weak spots where companies might influence the behaviours and opinions of these audiences in their favour.
How’s your company reputation doing? Reach out to Isentia to determine what your consumers think of you and how you may influence them.
By Ho Paik San, Associate Insights Director of Isentia Malaysia