Every company has reputation on their mind. From the start of the business, when things are going good, and probably the most when things are going downhill for the business.
What can ruin a company’s reputation with their consumers and the public in general? Here is a list of the top five things I think are the biggest reputation crushers:
Although recalled products are generally out of the company’s control, they are still responsible for how they communicate the recall and what they are willing to do to make it right. The best thing a business can do is a voluntary recall where they decide on their own to take a certain product off of the shelf before any further harm is done. The worst a company could do is NOT communicate a recall that was issued by the manufacturer. An example of a good recall is how Britax handled the recent recall of one of their stroller. They have shown transparency and will benefit greatly from that. When in doubt, be transparent.
2. Poor social media accounts:
Social media is more important now than ever. It’s importance is even growing everyday. Social media platforms should be used to keep consumers informed while also building their brand image. Brands need to make sure they are posting relevant content and find the right balance for how often they should be posting to each platform. Taco Bell has been using Instagram in the best way possible. They have followed the trend of using short videos and vibrant colors to draw the eye of consumers. On the opposite side, brands that use social media to post irrelevant content or very opinionated posts find their reputation to take a dip. You can find IHop’s twitter on this side. In my opinion, it is clear that they are trying very hard to use all the newest “teen lingo” to attract their audience. IHop might want to take some time to re-evaluate their twitter account as well as their audience.
3. Poor customer service:
A guaranteed way to drive your reputation to the ground is with poor customer service. You could be a small neighborhood ice cream shop or Nordstrom’s and poor customer service is going to damage your reputation. Consumers do not want to spend money at places they do not feel respected at. If your brand is looking to improve customer service, do not look to Comcast, with a nationally known poor customer service experience, as an example.
4. Unhappy employees:
Unhappy employees generally mean employees who don’t care about the business. This is bad for reputation. Your employees are sometimes the first thing consumers see when they walk into a store or interact with. Employees also have friends outside of work. They more than likely share experiences with each other, so their friends are hearing negative things about the company, which ultimately comes back to hurting the reputation. Now, you can’t grant every wish from an employee, but you can make sure that they feel like they are being heard.
5. Talking about politics:
Democratic or republican, your business is not the place to advertise that. Reputation has the potential to completely shatter to the ground as soon as politics are brought up. An example that first came to mind for me is the bakery in Portland, Ore that severely struggled after refusing the bake a cake to a gay couple. Their personal political views got in the way operating the business. With a demolished reputation they were forced to close the doors of their bakery. On a larger scale, Target also saw a huge online firestorm when they decided to de-gender the toy section.
Building your reputation is a process that takes a lot of thinking and strategic communicating internally as a company. I think it is also crucial to think about what the public’s reaction is going to be after you release a campaign, new advertisement, or a new policy. Reputation is built up like a game of Jenga – one wrong move and it can all come crashing down.