When it comes to attracting and retaining customers, and holding your own against the competition, few things matter as much as reputation. Your reputation is what defines your brand and it is the first thing people will assess. It has the power to put you in the public eye for the right reasons, as well as ensuring you receive word of mouth recommendations. However, your reputation is also the first thing at risk should you fall foul of a disgruntled employee, unfortunate associations, or a mistake that adversely affects a customer. A bad reputation puts you in danger of being mentioned in a negative context and losing everything you’ve worked so very hard to build.
It can be challenging, if not impossible, to recover a formerly favourable standing following a scandal or a severe upset. Forget damage limitation; there are several things that you can and should be doing to mitigate any risks to your company’s reputation.
Implementing a substantial social media policy
Grievances are very quickly aired via social media, and many employees won’t think twice about bad-mouthing their workplace following a dispute. Your reputation could be at risk via games of ‘he said, she said’ played out over social media, so make sure you have a policy in place that prevents employees discussing the ins and outs of their working life. These kinds of policies aren’t designed to repress freedom of speech, but to lay out very clearly how you expect employees to conduct themselves when representing you online.
Securing all data against breaches
Lack of trust is one of the easiest ways to tarnish a reputation; global companies have fallen at the hands of data breaches, losing the trust of those whose data they should have been protecting. You’ve probably been working hard to safeguard your sensitive data against hackers; however, you must be prepared to be held to account should the worst happen. Transparency is essential. Focus on consistency and control processes carefully, and you can say you’re doing all you can to minimise risk.
Being mindful of your associations
Take a look at the reputations of those you deal with, including partners, suppliers, stakeholders and competitors. What do their reputations say about them, and how do customers respond? Sometimes it’s not enough to check your conduct but to ensure that those around you have a similarly positive ethos.
Conducting regular workplace testing
A company’s reputation is often affected by the conduct of those working there. Fantastic customer service will win praise, while poor practices may throw an entire business into a bad light. That is why regular workplace drug and alcohol testing should be carried out. It ensures that employees are adhering to policies regarding substance use and misuse and detects any problems that need to be addressed.
Comprehensive training for employees
You are responsible for all training undertaken at your company. Make sure employees and partners know what is expected of them, and have undergone training to cover all eventualities. We cannot always prevent issues arising, but we can certainly prepare to resolve them for the best possible outcomes.
It may sound obvious, but sometimes focusing on the positives can guide your business in the right direction. There’s a lot to be said for a positive, can-do attitude, particularly when that extends to promoting your reputation. Customers will often respond favourably to those doing all they can to do right by them.
You mustn’t underestimate the risks associated with dents to your reputation. Some of the biggest most recognisable brands have faced struggles to recover their reputation over the years. All companies should make contingency plans and consider how to engage with employees, stakeholders and customers should the worst happen. Move quickly and communicate clearly, being as honest as you possibly can be at each point. Above all, implement as many of these mitigation procedures as possible. After all, there’s no substitute for preventing an issue altogether.