02 Apr 2013

Your department can make or break your company's reputation

Everyone knows that reputation is everything in business. It affects your relationships with customers, suppliers, competitors, partners and the public. It takes years of solid work to gain a good reputation, and it can be lost in a moment. Find out how you can use IT to get the upper hand in the reputation arm-wrestle.

Invest in your reputation

Your reputation is an vital – albeit intangible – business asset. Where most assets can be measured on current balance sheets in dollars and cents, your reputation affects your future income. Investing in rock-solid customer service, e-commerce and technical support/feedback solutions, as well as automating business functions to ease the administrative burden on your customers and suppliers will ensure that customers return, and that your good name is maintained and spread in your business area and beyond.

Get into the conversation

With social media making impulse-publishing of consumer opinions easier and faster than ever before, you cannot afford to let these potentially damaging comments define your online reputation. Having said this, you also cannot simply threaten to sue anyone saying defamatory things about you (even if you doubtless have a case) – it’s a public-relations nightmare. For the sake of both your public image and your business reputation, you must take it upon yourself to shape and guide the conversation around your company, vertical, service or product.

Make IT and marketing work together

For a long time, IT’s role in reputation management was largely about maintenance. As long as systems stayed online and functioned correctly, reputational damage brought about by IT failures was avoided. Today, IT is as much part of the front desk as the back office, and you need to step up and take responsibility for being (a part) of the public face of your company. Make sure there’s a regular and fruitful liaison between key IT, marketing and publicity staff to develop and implement a social media and online communications plan. Brainstorm disruptive and disaster scenarios and devise plans of action to respond to these should they arise. Work together on communication plans and strategies, and leverage the technical expertise of your IT staff, along with the communications knauss of marketers, to blueprint the future of your company’s reputation.