Building A Solid Reputation
September 22, 2016
It can take literally years for a business to build a solid reputation, yet that reputation can be changed in an instant. Business reputations are built on integrity and credibility. Integrity is the quality of being honest, fair, and having strong moral principles. A similar trait, credibility is the quality of being trusted, believed in, and accepted as true, real, or honest.
Businesses, similar to individuals, can be viewed as being unique and having distinct qualities that customers and employees see and experience. Reputations for integrity and credibility, likewise, exist.
For a business to maintain a long-term, solid reputation, integrity and credibility must be unquestioned and never compromised. These are two important elements in the success matrix of any business. A challenge is how to maintain these two critical elements of success.
A Cultural Change
Reputations change first from the inside. “I and me” must be replaced with “we and the company.” A philosophy within the business must be fostered with the goal that everything that is done, every sale that is made, and every customer that is touched is done so with the objective to achieve ultimate customer satisfaction and long-term, sustainable growth. An imperative component of both customer satisfaction and sustainable growth is to achieve integrity and credibility from the viewpoint of all patrons of the business.
Perception Is Reality
To the outside world (and employees), perception is reality when it comes to the moral principles and trustworthiness of the business. It is not enough for owners or managers to perceive the company and themselves as being credible, the rest of world must have the same view. In other words, “I am as the world sees me.” “I” is the business and the “world” is the many relationships that every business has.
What Is Projected
With instant news flashed across the Internet with lightening speed via social media, blogs, and online reviews, reputations can be made, enhanced, or destroyed almost in the blink of an eye. Although a business might put a special “spin or twist” on a story or particular product or service, the truth has a way of coming out. Secrets are a rare commodity in business these days. It is the free flow of information that is now readily accessible that allows almost anyone to know something about a business, owners, managers, and products or services offered.
It is the true core values of a business and how it treats customers and employees that determine its integrity and credibility. A business might say or market one thing, but it is how it operates everyday, and how it treats those associated with the business that is the final judgment on its character. A business might “talk the talk” but not “walk the walk” meaning it acts in a manner that it inconsistent with what it says. Conversely, a business should follow the tenets of “actions speak louder than words” or “practice what you preach.”
Behavior and Reputation
Internal behavior drives a company's reputation. Actions (or inactions) determine how a business is perceived. It is a series of positive actions that reinforce internally and externally the integrity and credibility of a business. It is not accomplished quickly. Owners and managers must set an example for all employees who, in turn, represent the business to customers, vendors, and other interested parties. Honesty and trust are valued qualities in a business that must be continuously protected. Businesses that maintain high ideals of morality reap beneficial rewards.