Imagine you have the ability to gather all of your customers in one place and time. During this gathering you are given the chance to ask your customers what they think about you and your business. What do you think they would say? Now let’s imagine the size of the group is increased, and your customers are joined by your stakeholders and even your potential customers. What do you think their collective perception will echo? Regardless of whether you are an established household name or if your business has just launched; your reputation is the all-important foundation that supports the success of your business. In fact, your reputation is your most valuable business asset.
Take for instance, the recent data breaches that have made headlines across the U.S. When sensitive personal and financial data is compromised, consumers rapidly lose confidence in the offending brands. A study by Experian estimated that each of these brands experienced a huge loss in consumer confidence as a result of their customers’ diminished trust. The New York Times reported that Target alone, experienced a 46 percent loss in revenue during the last quarter of 2013, directly following a massive data breach. Since then, Target and other major retailers who have experienced large-scale breaches of customer information, have fought to restore their reputation and win customers back.
But in today’s age of digital business, maintaining reputation value has become increasingly difficult. In addition to the risks of data theft, another ramification of the digital age is that companies have substantially less control on various aspects of their brand. Logos, ads and messaging can be easily manipulated and various praise and criticisms can be swiftly communicated through digital mediums. All of which can have a fast, uncontrollable influence on a business’ reputation.
Take Action to Preserve and Maintain Your Business Reputation
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Warren Buffet
When businesses and individuals consider the true worth of their reputation, they quickly understand the importance of proactively preserving and growing their reputation wealth. In recent years, numerous “reputation management” services have cropped up. For the most part, these businesses engage in nullifying or removing digital communications that may detract from business’ reputation and promoting positive feedback to balance the results. While it is important for businesses to manage their reputation data, the most important aspect of reputation wealth will be governed by what businesses do, as opposed to what they say.
Deliver on Your Promises
The essence of a strong, productive reputation, lies first and foremost on how you behave, and in upholding your commitments. A brand’s promise is only as strong the clout behind it, and that requires you as the business owner to stick to your word.
For example, in today’s world of online shopping, more and more consumers are choosing to buy products from marketplaces where they feel there is a “face” behind their purchase. Marketplaces like Rakuten.com and The Grommet offer shoppers the opportunity to see where their purchase is coming from, and give them the ability to develop a relationship with the retailer. The retailer then also has the opportunity to deliver on their brand promise, and establish a long-term reputation that leads more loyal shoppers.
Take a moment at least once a month, to think about what your business promises its customers and stakeholders. Are you upholding the promises that you have made to them? Also ask yourself if the service that you provide is not only what you say it is, but also what your customers desire. If it isn’t, you can stop now, because your reputation will not sustain your growth to a successful future. If it is, you’ve laid the groundwork to build a powerful, valuable reputation. In the coming years, business reputation will continue to emerge as a form of capital that will have a growing impact on the value of the products and services you provide and your business as a whole.