Reputation 360˚

By Sinead Moore

I recently had a pleasant customer service experience. And in case any clarification is required, yes that is a newsworthy event (or blogworthy as the case may be).

Ironically, my pleasing encounter was with a company who over the past few weeks has received its fair share of flack for the way it apparently treats its staff.  Of course, I’m talking about Amazon, whose reputation came under pressure in the wake of employee claims about negative workplace practices.

I don’t know anyone who works for Amazon and I’ve therefore never heard any first hand reports – good, bad or indifferent – about how the company treats its people.  But I do have personal experience of Amazon from a customer point of view and that leaves me in a bit of a bind when it comes to making an assessment of that company’s reputation because two important aspects of its character appear to be out of step with each other.  

But, back to my good service experience … I ordered some items from Amazon and one of the products didn’t arrive. I logged into my Amazon account, clicked the necessary drop down boxes and said I hadn’t received my delivery.

Within in ONE HOUR I received a reply from the “Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company” to tell me they were sorry and that to avoid further delays they had processed a new order which would be with me within the week. Furthermore, they told me that if the original product arrived in the meantime to keep it, on the house, or better still, to donate it to a charity.

Admittedly, I’m not easily pleased on the customer service front but I’m also the first to give credit where credit is due.

In a sea of abysmal customer service, the shining stars stand out and Amazon is not the only one. Take the City Bin Co as another case in point – admittedly the weekly rubbish collection is not something I would normally have a high amount of engagement with but this company has cleverly found a way to make themselves relevant to me by sending update reports that compare my recycling efforts to that of the neighbours (a bit of healthy competition is good, right?) Moreover, they deliver friendly, timely and helpful customer service.

Things like financial performance, service, relationships, and social responsibility determine a company’s reputation. It is important to understand these drivers so you know where to focus your efforts in terms of delivering the greatest returns but it’s also useful to determine if any drivers are ‘out of balance’.

Customer service is a case in point and is one aspect that is at the heart of so many businesses yet so often ‘under-serviced’ from a reputation point of view.  Accenture estimates the global switching economy (a term used to describe consumers changing product and service providers) to be valued at a whopping $6.2 trillion, which begs the question: why aren’t more companies looking at ways to improve their service, an important aspect of their reputation, and capture themselves a good thick slice of this lucrative pie?

Some organisations, may put too much stock in one aspect of their reputation to the detriment of another, leaving stakeholders scratching their head as to what they should think. In the case of Amazon, I have been surprised and delighted as a customer but concerned at the same time if it does turn out to be true that employees are mistreated.

It is imperative that modern companies – especially consumer-facing ones – consider the Yin as well as the Yang when it comes to all aspects of what they do, what they say and how they act.

You wouldn’t leave it to chance to balance the books. Don’t leave it to chance to balance your reputation.

All suggestions for where I can donate my spare bottle of pure Argan oil, should it arrive, gratefully received.

 

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