I’ve said it before and I will say it again, one of the most important elements of business are the relationships which make commerce possible. A key pillar of those relationships is reputation. And not just the reputation of a brand or between a company and a consumer / client – but the reputation of the individuals within the company – the executives, the marketing teams, the account managers, the support organization, etc. And there is also the reputation required within organizations to be a productive and successful member of the team – a reputation earned by action and supported/influenced by others.
Companies as an entity develop reputations within their market place – the famous Tylenol crisis where the company pulled product from the shelves in order to protect their customers; the way Zappos.com honored their mega-discounts earlier this year; the way Apple handled the iPhone 4 atenna-gate by providing the “bumpers” for the phone (success of this program can be debated); and countless other examples. (The vast majority of visible examples are in the consumer space, but this happens in the B2B space just as often, such as the way Firestone worked with Ford on the Explorer tire issues.)
Executives develop reputations in the market which impact business, stock price or customer perception – Steve Jobs, Carly Fiorina, Bill Gates, and Larry Ellison are examples. These corporate celebrities are the most visible examples, but companies and customers within smaller markets also rely on the reputation of executives to feel comfortable. And with the advent of social media, marketing departments work overtime to ensure these reputations are broadcast loud and clear.
Marketing departments, whether services organizations helping companies develop and deploy marketing campaigns or the internal departs operating as stewards of a brand product promise, require reputations of developing honest and consistent messages or methods for interfacing with customers.
Account Managers in particular rely on their reputations to forge strong, long-term relationships with customers. Combined with Services and Support Teams, these customer touch points can achieve success or experience failure internally as well externally based on their reputations.
There are other examples, but in this mini-series I will look in more detail at each element of what constitutes a corporate reputation and identify areas where the impact to business should be considered and monitored. As Warren Buffet said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.” I feel it is important for businesses to understand and accept that reputations are the true and fragile currency of a successful business. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the Wall Street financial firms how their reputations are holding up.
NOTE: If you have specific examples, please don’t hesitate to provide them…the more specific examples we can collect, the more useful this will become.