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What’s your Business Reputation worth, and who owns it during a crisis?

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When your business returns to work, one of its critical assets will be your reputation.  Will you be the first person the client phones when they sit down at their desks again?  The esteem with which you are personally regarded, in tandem with the reputation for service that your organisation and colleagues are held, is everything in business.   

Just as you would be reluctant to visit an unsympathetic dentist, so your clients make judgements every time they come into contact with your frontline service staff, use your product or online service, or try out a new service offering.  Most business leaders quite rightly cite Reputation as one of their greatest business assets, component within their share price and most significant risk to the business. For some organisations that value perception over physical assets can be 70% of the share price.

So What is it Worth??

Like many intangibles in business, only economists would try to put a price tag on business reputation. For most clients and customers it is measured in terms of trust, attention, and admiration.  We are about to enter one of the most significant economic shocks the global economy has ever experienced.  We are also in an age of fast media, Twitter and other image forming postings.  The damage some enterprises have inflicted on their business reputation in the early stages of the coronavirus has probably damaged them permanently –  the callous dismissal of staff from hotels and businesses, price racketeering during shortages of key essentials, or poor health & safety management that expose staff and clients to the risk of infection.  These businesses may never regain their former position of trust with clients or the public; in fact, to some companies, the risk of association may be regarded as negative public relations. 

Media News & trending issues can rapidly turn vicious, moving rapidly from a breaking news item or opinion into a manhunt for the presumed guilty. 

Stop and think about your organisation’s decisions during the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, and subsequently as time has passed on and the lockdown has continued.  Now reflect on the businesses that have been damaged by negative service or brand attention during the epidemic so far. Consider how your employees, clients, customers and supply chains now consider your behaviours and actions compared to your pre-COVID-19 business reputation?

Any guilt?

Emerging from Crisis

So, as you emerge from lockdown, consider in your future business strategy:

  • Who in your organisation owns your reputation?
  • Do you know what drives your reputation with customers and clients?
  • What will matter most to them as they emerge back into commercial and retail operations?
  • Are there opportunities present to strengthen the value of your brand through more significant reputation creation?

Your first response may be ‘I’ll get the Marketing Manager or Public Relations team onto this’, but it may not be enough as reputation goes to the heart of the organisation’s culture and is reflected externally by business activities.  It is the values staff express when dealing face to face with others, the spoken and written promises made to customers when you are all too busy, to their expectations of how you should behave during crisis towards them.  

That’s why a responsible business understands the internal and external value of a good brand as a driver of staff engagement, customer awareness, and a factor to be envied by competitors. 

So what’s the secret to building up my Business Reputation again post COVID-19

The secret is relatively simple:

  • The attitude and behaviours of the senior leadership team are one of the cornerstones to maintaining and building on reputation.  How you interact, communication and your workplace behaviours acts as a catalyst for others to follow,
  • How authentic the business is in driving forward its values and stated beliefs internally and externally, and the manner and extent to which it promotes them during good times and bad.  It is pointless claiming ‘our staff are our greatest asset’ and then dismissing them at the first sign of economic trouble.
  • The extent to which the leadership team encourages its staff to engage in how the company strategy, mission or goals are to be achieved. They are involving their energy, innovation and workplace ethics to achieve higher performance.
  • The extent to which the organisation employs sustainability within its more extensive business model to identify and address social, environmental and economic trends that may adversely impact on business strategy, profit and loss, and asset balance sheets. 

The message should be clear, as you start to rebuild resilience and confidence back into the business – your business’s past and current reputation is one of the most important assets you own, and protecting it from risk is one of the greatest leadership challenges your organisation faces on a daily basis

So what is your reputation worth?

It is said that the reputation of a lifetime can be lost in a single decision or comment.  I hope then that you never find out what it was worth and instead focus on maintaining its good standing.  It, in turn, enhances, protects and preserves your business. 

If you are interested in enhancing your Business Reputation through strengthening your business approach towards responsible leadership and utilising sustainability as an integrated business tool in the organisation, phone us for advice and assistance.

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