As a business, you take risk seriously. You develop an understanding of the potential problems with suppliers, transportation, and customer service. And you take action. You keep a close eye on your business’s operation, and you establish strategies to manage those issues should they take place. Corporate reputation management is no different.
When you have a proactive approach to ensuring that your customers’ impression of your reputation is favorable, you reduce the risks of problems. Then you also plan for the worst. You have a disaster management process already defined, which can spring into action at the very hint of a reputational issue.
You might now be wondering if your processes are robust enough to maintain your positive corporate reputation in the face of online issues. Alternatively, you could be wondering if there is even any value in focusing on business reputation. With this in mind, we’ve highlighted for you all the reasons why you need to give reputation management the same priority as you do for the effective running of the rest of your operation.
What Exactly is Corporate Reputation?
Corporate reputation is simply the impression that stakeholders have of your company. That could include the opinions of your shareholders, employees, suppliers and also your existing and prospective client base.
When individuals are considering your business as prospective shareholders, they may consider your corporate reputation from three perspectives:
- The value of the company as being a long-term investment
- The quality of the management team
- The financial soundness of its operation.
Now while there are tangible measurements upon which decisions can be made, the corporate reputation has the strength to influence opinions on each of these aspects. Where speculation or reputational problems exist, then the business may not appear to be such a good investment fund option.
Your employees are stakeholders within your company. Their perception of the corporate reputation can have a tremendous influence on how they undertake their work and the customer service they provide. Does your management team lead by example? Do they motivate the team to make effective decisions that make a real difference to how your company is perceived?
It also needs to be remembered that employees are also prospective customers, and what they think about the business they work for will influence their buying choices. And on that point, what do your staff think about your business? Do they consider you to be industry leaders, or are they more likely to lead friends and families towards competitor organizations based on their experiences?
Reputation is contagious. When everything is going well within your business, and your brand holds a strong reputation, then suppliers will be keen to work with you. When a business is in the full midst of a reputation crisis, other companies may think again about working with you. In fact, their first action could be to create distance from you even if it has an initial impact on their revenue. When your corporate reputation is hitting rock bottom, suppliers may decide that this is not a brand with which they can be associated.
The Benefits of Having a Strong Corporate Reputation
It should be no surprise that a strong and positive corporate reputation will significantly impact revenue. Customers will feel a higher level of confidence in purchasing your goods or services, and shareholders will be more willing to invest.
We all know that customer referrals can be one of the most powerful ways of acquiring new customers. But no one will recommend a business unless they are confident that friends and family will have a positive experience. Was their excellent experience a one-off? Or does the brand show time and time again that they have a strong corporate reputation?
The business’s performance on that one interaction can have a significant influence on brand reputation and future sales. When all stakeholders understand how they must work with every customer to ensure they are left with a positive impression of the company, then managing reputation becomes an integral aspect of everybody’s role.
Position of Influence
Who do people turn to for opinions and the setting of standards within your business sector? How about innovation and research? When your company is influential, it has a direct impact on reputation. Knowledge develops trust, and that can only lead to a good outcome when building a strong reputation.
What Can Negatively Affect Corporate Reputation?
Pro-active corporate reputation management means reducing the likelihood of any negative influences. It results in taking action before the problem happens and taking quick and prompt action if there should be the slightest hint of a problem. Three key areas that should be a key focus of corporate reputation management are:
When new clients search for your business through a search engine such as Google, what do they find? Is it information that encourages them to get in touch, or is it their first perception to continue their search for alternatives? When negative information is presented within the search results, it’s not difficult to understand why consumers stop their research at that point.
Even if the services you offer are a perfect match, if the information they see is less than glowing, that will make them look elsewhere.
Review sites can be a fantastic opportunity to share the positive experiences of your customers. However, when a poor review is posted, reputations can plummet, and companies can pay a heavy price for not ensuring that every customer is delighted with their experience.
It should be said that most people understand that from time to time, there will be glitches within company performance. However, when members of the public only see negativity without an attempt to reach a resolution, then there is likely to be damage to the business reputation.
Love it or hate it, there is no getting away from the power of social media. It plays a critical role in corporate communications and provides an excellent way to appreciate customer needs and requirements. However, suppose you’re not paying close attention to the conversations taking place across the various social media platforms. In that case, there could be negative information circulating, which will damage both sales and the company reputation.
Gathering online data is essential and provides a good way of assessing growth or decline in online reputation. Did your last Facebook post get that valuable like, or did it disappear without comment?
The instant nature of social media provides a fantastic opportunity to interact with a customer with minimal delay. Actions are also instantly visible to others, and so the opportunity to share important information and respond to sales inquiries can be quickly shared with groups of people. This then means it’s essential that stakeholders who interact on behalf of the brand effectively handle situations while always considering corporate reputation management.
When a Corporate Reputation Crisis Hits
A reputation crisis can quickly get out of control if action isn’t taken both quickly and decisively. In an ideal world, a business will work with a reputation management company in advance of their being a problem. They will help them better understand areas of risk and discuss how that could then impact the brand and the stakeholders.
The next step is to formulate a strategy that outlines the details of actions to be taken should there be a threat to the business reputation.
When a reputation recovery plan isn’t in place, a reputation management consultant can still help you manage the situation. However, as every minute passes, the damage may be growing.
What Can You Do To Implement Corporate Reputation Management Policies?
Most companies are already working at full capacity, just managing their day-to-day operational requirements. Utilizing a professional reputation management company’s services can take the pressure off while ensuring that the potential for online problems is managed from becoming out of control.
Reputation management consultants will gather online data to establish a baseline of your current reputation. Then, they’ll work with you to develop areas that will be of real value to your business reputation leaving you free to enjoy the benefits.