Friday, May 8, 2009

Reputation Management

If you've never been to LinkedIn, I'd recommend it as a great professional networking site. My favorite feature is the "Answers" section, where you can offer answers to questions other users have asked, or you can write a question of your own. I recently liked the answer I gave to someone in my network. The question asked about managing companies' reputations. It listed a few agencies that specialize in this area and a link to a blog entry about the subject. Below is my response to the question. I felt it was a pretty good answer, but was apparently NOT the answer the person was looking to receive.

"While any of the companies you've listed could do a good job of attempting to manage a company's brand and reputation, we all must consider something: both the brand and the reputation of a company exist in the minds of consumers. Understanding this fact helps relieve some of the pressure that companies put themselves under. They have no direct control over exactly what people think of them.

"That being said, there is a plethora of ways in which to engage customers, and that includes B2B customers. To start out, any company can do some things that don't require the aid of a specialized agency. The road to a good reputation ALWAYS begins with improved customer service; it's the one sure-fire way to improve the way people think about a business, and it's the one part of the good reputation equation that must be there. Every other strategic improvement will relate to the specific business model, but a company that wants a good reputation in the minds of potential and current customers MUST start with customer service.

"Agencies that advertise that they can 'change your reputation' are guilty of puffery. No amount of dollars spent can change the way people think about you. A good reputation management agency will teach how to manage the current reputation – it’s in the consumers’ minds – and suggest ways that customers can be engaged to help to improve the relationship."
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