Many business owners focus their efforts on short-term needs – getting more leads, making more sales, increasing cash flow. That’s understandable because you need sales and cashflow to survive. However, whether you realise it or not, while you are conducting your daily business, your reputation is being formed—in the minds of your employees, your customers and the general public.
Your reputation is people’s perception of your business. While you won’t find reputation at the bottom of the profit and loss statement, it absolutely affects your profitability. Reputation influences a person’s decision to buy your product or service, refer you to others, work for you, sponsor you or volunteer for you. Care for your reputation like you care for marketing, sales and cashflow, and you’ll carve a pathway to long-lasting business success.
The rise of the internet has firmly ushered in the reputation era. As employers, as professionals, as consumers, as employees, we equip ourselves with as much information as possible before making decisions. It’s now commonplace to do an online search of job candidates as part of the recruitment process, view LinkedIn profiles before meeting new business associates, check out reviews before purchasing a product, examine content to understand what a business stands for before applying for a job, and so on.
This online scrutiny, combined with what we experience personally across all customer touchpoints, forms the basis of our assumptions and opinions about a business. This, in turn, determines what we think and say about a business to ourselves and others.
This is your reputation. A perception that resides in the minds of others. An intangible thing that follows you wherever you go. A flexible thing shaped by what you think, say and do, every hour of every day.
Reputation is all powerful and can take years to build. It is also fragile and can be damaged within a heartbeat. A poor reputation has widespread implications. It manifests in reduced employee productivity and morale, an increase in customer complaints and diminished trust, to name a few.
A great reputation gives the exact opposite. When there is trust and goodwill in your brand, you’ll have staff who think, speak and act in line with your vision, mission and core values, increased customer loyalty and engagement, and a more positive public profile.
After more than 30 years working in professional communication, I have come to believe that reputation sits at the intersection of an organisation’s (or individual’s) internal culture, brand communication and customer experience. This is what I call the Reputation Equation™:
The degree of congruence between these three elements determines your reputation and is explained by what I’ve coined the Law of Reputational Alignment™ which states that the more closely aligned your organisational culture, brand communication and customer experience, the better your reputation.
When an organisation’s culture, communication and customer experience are congruent, there is a stronger emotional connection with the vision and ethos of the business. There is also greater customer satisfaction as expectations are met by more highly engaged employees. Conversely, when an organisation’s culture, communication and customer experience are out of sync, reputation suffers due to mixed messages, unfulfilled expectations and lower levels of engagement.
The good news is you can help shape the reputation you desire.
You create your internal culture.
You communicate your brand.
You deliver a customer experience through your product or service, procedures, processes and customer touchpoints.
It’s your choice!
By actively forging a greater alignment between your organisational culture, brand communication and customer experience, you will be well on the way to building a great reputation.
©Ros Weadman 2017
Ros Weadman is the creator of the Reputation Equation™, founder of Melbourne PR & Marketing Group and author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com