In today’s business world talk of reputational management is widespread and justifiably so. Many businesses spend lots of money on quality websites and managing their social media presence. Furthermore staff development in areas such as customer service is growing, and again this theoretically is money well spent. All of these elements contribute to the profile and reputation of a business.
But reputations are very fragile things and can be damaged, sometimes irreparably, by the simplest of things. Over the past few weeks I have had several discussions with different people about attitudes to business and specifically communication fails. There appears to me to be a growing trend of businesses not returning calls, emails or texts promptly – and by promptly I mean within days not hours!! The common ‘reason’ given seems to be because people are busy, but let’s be totally honest – that is an excuse not a reason. I’m sure we have all fallen victim to this approach, or lack of, and it NEVER enhances the reputation of the business concerned. Essentially there are only three reasons for not responding to a customer, or responding so late that you may as well not have bothered:
- A basic lack of common courtesy
- A lack of efficiency
- The business model is flawed
If the issue lies within point one then the business is arguably beyond redemption. If, however, the reason lies in either, or a mix of, points two and three then there is a solution if the business owner wants to find it. Initially it starts with a recognition that the reputation and, by implication, the income stream is suffering. There then needs to be an analysis of what specifically is causing the failing. It may be that the business model can’t cope with the demand, which in some respects is not the worst position to be in. It may simply be that the efficiency of one or two individuals needs to be improved. The solution may simply be implementing a service standard for returning messages. If this sounds ridiculously easy that’s because it is – but I wonder how many people reading this actually have such a service standard, how it is implemented, and how often it is successful. But the onus is on the business owner/Directors/CEO etc to recognise the problem and carry out the necessary remedial work.
Often getting the views of a neutral observer and somebody that can see things in an unfettered way from the customer’s perspective is enlightening. It might not provide the news that leadership team wants to hear but it is always preferable to waiting until it’s too late.
In business it’s not enough to be technically good at what you do. That offering has to be packaged carefully and delivered by people with a customer-focused touch!! If not your reputation is in danger of being shattered.