20 Oct Reputation Matters
Reputation. We all have one; every individual, organisation, or brand, and it affects every aspect of our business and even our personal lives.
Your reputation is what people think about you, what they say about you when you aren’t in the room and how they feel about you. If you are frequently late or miss appointments, you will gain a reputation for being unreliable or unprofessional. If the person who responds on email or social media to customer questions or complaints is helpful and friendly, your business will have a reputation for being easy and pleasant to deal with.
It takes time to build up a good reputation, but it takes seconds to destroy it. Think about a time when you received poor customer service, a bad meal or a damaged product. That one experience stays with you far longer and probably had a much bigger impact on you than the many other positive interactions you had with that business previously.
Sometimes negative experiences happen and there is nothing you can do about it. Customers understand that and are generally very forgiving, especially if the problem wasn’t your fault. However, they won’t forgive, or forget, how you dealt with it, because that is under your control. So, if you are faced with a potentially negative situation, take control and turn it to your advantage.
I recently heard about a bar/restaurant that had a run out of prosecco and had to tell a table of ladies that they couldn’t have a second bottle. (I imagine you had to be pretty brave to do that job!). Instead of this being a negative experience though, the establishment concerned offered the ladies a bottle of champagne at the same price as the prosecco. Naturally the ladies were delighted and very happy to agree to the offer. Rather than it being a disappointing experience, the ladies were so thrilled that they tweeted about what had happened, and the bar gained some fantastic free publicity – which was worth considerably more than the cost of selling a bottle of champagne for the price of a bottle of prosecco!
It may seem like a small thing, but that simple gesture was a way of turning a situation that could have damaged the reputation of the business into one that enhanced it.
Companies with good reputations attract better quality candidates for vacant roles, are able to command a premium for their services and enjoy greater customer loyalty. On the other hand, companies with poor reputations end up having to compete in a race to the bottom as price becomes their only means to keep existing, or attract new, customers. The trouble with customers who shop with you because you are the cheapest is that they will go somewhere else as soon as they find a better price.
Many things can influence your reputation, but what do you do if you end up with an unjustified negative reputation? You will sometimes hear PR people say: “it isn’t the truth that counts, it’s what the public perceives to be the truth”. It’s an important point to remember.
One of the most common ways for a business to end up with a negative reputation is down to poor communication. Things are being said and written about businesses all the time nowadays because of the prevalence of social media – and people are more likely to take to social media to complain about something than they are to offer praise. If you aren’t actively communicating, you are leaving a vacuum that will be filled with information about you or your business that has been created by someone else. That is unlikely to be the real story or what you would want people to think or know about you.
If there is inaccurate information about you in the public domain, then you need to correct it. That doesn’t mean getting into a public fight, but it does mean pointing out what is wrong and offering supporting evidence if necessary.
But what is even better is to make sure people have the right knowledge and information about you in the first place. That comes from proactive communications. If you regularly tell people what, how and why you are doing something, what your values are, if you have a CSR policy or new staff rewards, they will gain a much better understanding of your business and will be much less likely to believe anything untrue or negative that they read.
Remember – if you don’t control your reputation, someone else will.
If you would like help to manage your reputation, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org