Is reputation a shared responsibility?
Editorial

Is reputation a shared responsibility?

No single individual should be responsible for looking after an organisation’s reputation – it is everyone’s obligation. But marketers have a particularly important role to play.

The age of rugged individualism is over and communitarianism is back.

It is a change being driven both by technology, which allows for enhanced collaboration between people, and by demographics. From Uber to crowdsourcing, we live in a world that is increasingly conceptualised as a space made for sharing with other people, and businesses are waking up to the trend. 

The reputation of your organisation is no exception in this move towards shared ownership.

It’s now understood that consumers – especially younger consumers – see experiences as more important than products and brands as an extension of their own personalities. To win their business you have to be the kind of organisation they can see themselves becoming a part of . Reputation is all-encompassing – and more important than ever.

Addressing this issue is about more than just putting increased emphasis on PR, or hiring a new chief customer officer. It means ensuring that the whole purchasing experience is an authentic fit for the individual, at every customer touchpoint. Therefore, all employees encountered by the customer have a part to play in upholding the organisation’s principles and good name. In other words, the ownership of reputation has become much wider than ever before.

But that doesn’t mean marketers can rest easy knowing that they aren’t the only ones involved. As every superhero knows, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ – and marketers have a lot of power to influence this aspect of business.

In fact, marketing could be the department that is most fitted to looking after reputation. Why? It’s not just because marketers are creative (though they are) and can build campaigns that shift people’s perceptions. After all, PR people can do that. And it’s not because marketers have a close connection with the consumer (though they absolutely should have). Indeed, from the customer officer to the cashier, there are people who are likely to be more directly connected.

No, it’s because marketers are statisticians, strategists and organisers.

Reputation grows out of the hundreds (or millions) of individual interactions that take place between a given organisation and the public. It takes somebody with a grasp of research and statistical analysis to track the results of all these interactions and suggest improvements in the way all employees conduct themselves – for example, noticing an aspect of the customer buying journey that could be improved, or figuring out which interactions with particular key influencers are most important, so the organisation can focus on making them really special.

Marketers are uniquely placed to understand, influence and coordinate the efforts of everyone in the organisation.

While it’s true that everybody in the community is responsible for reputation, some rugged individuals still have the power to make a really big difference.

Use it wisely.

Take a look at our recent Brand Experience report, which identifies key areas within organisations that most urgently need tackling in order to enable marketers to deliver on their desired brand experience.

Steve Woolley Head of External Affairs CIM
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