Reputation: a Matter of Trust

Today I recommend thinkpurpose’s post Why I Don’t Care About the Reputation of my Organisation.

…If you aim for a good reputation, trust takes a back seat. Spin, presentation and image are the easy ways to a good reputation but trust is made from simpler and sterner stuff. It has to be based on something real. If your customers trust you, and you follow through, then reputations are made as a consequence. When trust is broken, no amount of reputation management will recover it, only a slow steady rebuilding of it through delivering on your promises…

There are tons of businesses that promise to assist you with your online reputation.  However, reputation is an issue that is bigger than the internet, since it predates the internet by, I dunno, thousands of years.

If one of my friends were planning a trip to Sydney, would I enthusiastically recommend the hotel* where  I stayed or the restaurants where I ate?  An enthusiastic personal recommendation is worth a hundred positive reviews on TripAdvisor.  Each customer and each employee can and should be an ambassador for your organization.  It requires excellence and extraordinary follow-through in every transaction every time.

A superintendent once lamented that some teachers in his school district were saying negative things about their workplace “to any random person in line at the supermarket who would listen”.  Yet it is these very people who are the key to future success.  When an organization is being besmirched by its own employees there are clearly deep, unaddressed systemic problems.  The solution is not to squelch criticism but to deal with its underlying causes.  Have I been guilty of blaming disengaged employees and angry customers?  Yes!  Absolutely.  It is such an easy trap to fall into.

It is crucial that we really listen to and learn from our unhappy customers and our disengaged employees. It is the only place to start when building a reputation.


*That hotel in Sydney charges extra for everything: $2 a day to use the in-room safe, $1 for each bag stored after check-out, $20 for breakfast, extra for wifi, extra for parking, extra to print out your boarding passes.  I gave them four out of five stars.  Why?  Because it is a budget hotel and I knew up front what I had signed up for.  I knew every additional service carried a fee.  The high rating was because staff were friendly and efficient and the room was very clean.  They lost a star because I spent 20 minutes and $4 on a #$%* computer in the lobby trying to print out boarding passes before the desk staff told me to just go across the street to the internet café.  Clearly the hotel knows these computers are sub-par and removing them would definitely improve their customers’ experience.  The hotel’s goal should not be five stars on TripAdvisor but to get me to stay there again and for my friends to do the same.  The TripAdvisor ratings will then take care of themselves.

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