how do organizations create a strong reputation?

March 4, 2009 marlafederman

CB043510Reputation is built by what people experience, hear and read. It is important that organizations work hard  to provide customers with a positive experience with their products, services and also their employees. It is equally important for an organization to be sure that all information about its organization is accurate and up to date. Organizations can create a strong reputation through their employees, their image and through social media.

 One of the most important ways for a company to create a positive reputation is through its employees. According to Managing Partner of Reputation Institute and Director of U.S. Operations, Kasper Neilson:

 “In order to achieve a favorable reputation, companies must first look to the inside- to their employees.”

 Employees are the ambassadors of the company. They are the ones who are interacting with stakeholders and customers each day. Their actions reflect on the company- in either a good or bad way. Employees can be thought of as the middleman between the company and customers. The employee will communicate information from the CEO to customers, and vice versa. For example, if customers have a concern or suggestion for the company, customers will tell the employee, and the employee will pass the information onto his or her CEO through the employee’s intermediate manager. Every company should have a set of values and guidelines to follow that are consistent throughout the organization. This helps keep everyone on the same page and up to date with company policies. Having consistency is important because it helps to build credibility for a company, which in turn helps to strengthen the company’s reputation.

 Image is also a very important part of building a company’s reputation. In a quote I found in an article discussing ways to build a reputation, George Ludwig states:

 “Visual credibility plays a huge role in building a great reputation.”

 I totally agree with this quote. Let’s say that a customer sees a messy office space or a cluttered store, or maybe even an employee dressed in ratty jeans and a t-shirt. The company is probably going to lose credibility and maybe even some respect from that customer. A great example of how poor image can ruin a company’s reputation is the devastation of a Kohl’s store in Dallas, Texas. A man was shopping at Kohl’s and the store literally looked as though a hurricane had just passed through. There were clothes all over the floor, and broken shelves buried under heaps of jeans. The store was a complete disaster. The man decided to take pictures of the store with his camera phone and post them on the internet. It doesn’t say much for the company if it is going to allow one of its stores to look like this. It is important for people to know that companies care about their  customers and take pride in their own company; Kohl’s clearly did not seem to care about its company or its customers. On the other side of the spectrum, if a customer interacts with an employee who is professionally dressed and is helpful and polite, the customer will place more trust in the company. It is easier to build a strong reputation for your company if the overall appearance of the company is professional (clean and organized office spaces and stores,  and well -dressed and polite employees).

 Social media is becoming a popular place for businesses to reach out to their customers. Using various social media outlets such as blogs or twitter is a great way for businesses to find out what customers wants and needs are. Companies who write an organizational blog or create an organizational twitter account can interact with customers and learn about potential problems or concerns with their company, and fix problems immediately by directly addressing the person or organization that expressed the concern. One thing to keep in mind when either blogging or twittering or using any number of social media outlets, is to be transparent. Transparency is so important. It helps to build credibility. It also shows customers that your company isn’t trying to hide anything. Being transparent helps customers to trust company, which builds a strong reputation. Also, an organizational blog can be an effective tool not only for informing customers about products or crises, but it would be a useful way for the CEO of a company to communicate with employees.Whether it be to inform employees of a crisis, and the company’s plan to deal with the crisis, or to provide employees with valuable information about the company to expand their knowledge about the company. 

 

Image from Corbis

 

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