As Warren Buffett is famous for saying, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
In that context, your company’s brand is a massive liability. It is incredibly difficult to build up its reputation, and in the world of 24/7 internet reviews and viral sensations, it can only take one misstep to completely destroy it.
If you want to protect your company’s reputation, and prove that you’re a reliable provider to both current and future customers, you need to utilize these four strategic tools.
1. Facebook and Twitter Customer Contact
When a customer has an issue, they’re going to tell friends and family. In fact, a recent study found that customers are 95% likely to share a poor experience with others. Only 85% of those surveyed could recall telling someone about a positive experience with a brand or service. In the world of smartphones, tablets and computers, that sharing is happening via social media.Advertising
Your company needs a proactive social media policy that accomplishes the following:
- Identify positive and negative brand mentions and interactions online.
- Establish contact with dissatisfied customers, and thank satisfied customers for the mention.
- Publicly invite dissatisfied customers to make immediate, personal contact with a team member that can resolve their issue.
- Create content that positively highlights the brand’s USP’s.
2. Proactively Monitor Service Reliability
If you want to identify a hero at creating reliable customer solutions, look at Apple. The Cupertino firm leads the traditional PC manufacturers by double digits in customer satisfaction and component reliability according to Consumer Reports. This is a big part of why Apple is sitting on more cash than the US Government has on hand.
Depending on the type of company you operate, and the services you offer your customers, your needs for monitoring your reliability in real-time will change slightly. Here are a few tools to consider implementing:
- Database Management and Monitoring Software
- Independent contractors must be utilized to reliably survey customer satisfaction.
- Hire mystery shoppers to test your systems and product experience.
- Actively monitor customer engagement; repeat orders, average basket size, etc.
3. Perform Background Checks on Business Partners and Outside Vendors
When your company expands and scales, you’ll inevitably end up working with outside vendors to supplement your existing offering. As you bring on partners, carefully perform background checks to thoroughly vet potential relationships. Creating a partnership with a company that drops the ball will directly impact your company’s reputation.Advertising
For example, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and many other cellular service providers utilize a company called Asurion to administer their hardware insurance services. I can tell you from first-hand experience, working with them to fix or replace a broken phone is a nightmare. I have switched to an alternate provider on more than one occasion due to their failure to provide quick and reasonable service.
Don’t let your company fall into the trap of outsourcing to shoddy vendors. Your customers will punish you for it. It could be the thing that keeps your business from becoming an iconic brand. One of the most iconic brands, the world over, is Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Media. The vast majority of their business revolves around licensing arrangements, which resulted from the reputation of the brand.
As a recent article points out, “Virgin’s popularity as a brand in the eighties far outstripped its market size and it achieved this simply by challenging everything that our well-established long-haul airline market was built on, publically upsetting the applecart in the process. It has stood by these values ever since and people continue to love the brand for flying in the face of the establishment.”
Becoming an iconic brand requires strong partnerships with reliable 3rd parties, especially if you’re looking to “upset the applecart”.Advertising
4. Utilize Strong Security Software and Policies
Customer data breaches are becoming increasingly common. In 2015 alone there were 781 individually reported data breaches of customer data at a corporate level. This means hackers are able to penetrate a corporation’s firewall and access credit card information, billing addresses, names and potentially social security numbers of customers that utilize a product or service.
According to some reports, the average data breach causes at least $3.79 million dollars in damage to the companies that fall victim to these attacks. These damages take the form of lost sales, higher operating costs and customer losses due to the attacks. Don’t leave your company vulnerable to this kind of loss.
To protect yourself and your company, there are some basic protocols that can be followed:
- Limit personal devices connected to corporate infrastructure.
- Mandate randomized passwords that are changed monthly on all systems.
- Encrypt corporate data before transmitting.
- Aggressively limit employee access to internal data.
- Insure that terminated employees lose access prior to termination.
- Use robust hosting with powerful hardware, software and 24/7 support.
- Educate employees on common tactics used by hackers to gain entry through phishing scams and other illegitimate means.
In A Connected World, Reputations Are Lost in A Flash
Your company and your personal reputation are incredibly important to your ability to conduct future business. Don’t let software snags, hackers, or unreliable vendors cause unnecessary damage to your brand’s reputation for providing a reliable service. You have the power to protect your company, and the four steps mentioned above offer an excellent starting point.Advertising
Are you prepared to do what it takes to provide excellent service and protect your company’s reputation?
Featured photo credit: Cydcor via flickr.com
Last Updated on March 29, 2021
5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All
When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’
What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.
The Dream Type Of Manager
My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.
I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.
My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!
That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”
I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.
The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers
My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.
However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.
The Invisible Boss
This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.
It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.
The Micro Manager
The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.
Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.
The Over Promoted Boss
The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.
You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.
The Credit Stealer
The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!
Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.
3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers
Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.
1. Keep evidence
Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.
Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.
Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.
2. Hold regular meetings
Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.
3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…
Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.
However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!