Imagine consumers who have no access to electronic communication channels, who are unhappy, influential, well connected and they perceive and experience your business/brand’s reputation to be shocking. Naturally they will discuss their perceptions and experiences with people they are connected to socially, in business circles, family and potential customers/users of your services/products.
Unless you conduct research or participate in reputation health studies, these influential people’s views will continue to be under the radar. But their influence will be evident in declining sales and business profitability.
These influential people will manage your company’s reputation on your behalf, unless your approach to this strategic business enabler is holistic, translated to all levels within your organisation and integral to your business model, with your stakeholder’s interests central to your approach.
Reputation Management is not damage control when your company is pulled into a tornado of unplanned or unforeseen eventualities. It requires an appetite, commitment, discipline, responsibility, ownership, on-going management, review and continuous improvement to achieve your stated objectives.
Your company’s leadership is rated and reviewed on their ability to grow the business profitably, with innovative products and services. Integral to their leadership style is their ability to create a conducive working environment for all their employees without compromising corporate governance principles. Shareholders and analysts monitor the performance of the company. The customers will remain loyal if they experience exceptional service from your company, including your active involvement with community-driven initiatives aimed at social upliftment.
This clearly illustrates the complex nature and strategic importance of managing all the variables/drivers which have a direct impact on your company’s reputation. Failure to manage these variables/drivers as a collective will result in a situation where your business/brand’s reputation is perceived and experienced as unfavourable. The market and your stakeholders will look at leadership, your performance, ethical business practices and compare your offering with competitive and alternative solutions. Your share price will come under scrutiny especially when the movement is downwards.
Those consumers who are not e-enabled will share their experiences by means of the oldest and most effective method of promoting, recommending and selling services/products to their network as influential ignitors, through Word of Mouth. Your inability to effectively manage your reputation with these and other stakeholders will eventually surface and feature on online channels and platforms.
In short your reputation management solution must be integrated to include online monitoring, tracking, trend analysis and measurement, but not as a standalone function. All your interventions, activities and engagements with your stakeholders must include traditional and online management elements of your reputation enhancement strategy. It’s not one or the other but both. Incidents which affect your reputation happen at all touch-points with your business/brand; hence the importance of an integrated approach to managing your reputation with all your stakeholders as a business imperative.
Avoid situations where your reputation is managed by disgruntled stakeholders…
Ensure your online presence is a reflection of your ethos, values, vision and organisational culture…
Manage your reputation from the inside-out, to avoid undesirable experiences at all touch points with your business/brand