People are talking. Ensuring they have something good to say about you and are motivated to share it with as many people as possible is very good for your business. The things your increasingly connected customers and employees say online not only last forever, they also spread farther, faster, and have greater impact than ever before.
The reputation of your business is path dependent. That means you have to earn it over time by the things that you choose and refuse to do. Reputation is a very valuable source of competitive advantage for your business because it’s hard for your competitors to imitate. Even if they can figure out what you are doing to cause so many people to say such good things about you, it’s going to take them time to catch up, and while they’re pursing competitive parity you’ll continue to build operational excellence.
Want to build a stellar reputation with customers? Then you better be just as concerned about the reputation you earn as a place to work. Your employees make or break your business. But is your business making or breaking your employees? Gary Vaynerchuck articulates this concept well in his new book, “The Thank You Economy”:
Too many leaders invest insufficiently in their employees for fear of losing out when the employee leaves. Any investment you make in your employees will be safe if they believe that you really care about them and their future. Create a culture that rewards people who show that they care. Seek the input of people who have a tendency to take risks and share big ideas. Prove that you value your employees above all else by giving them the freedom to ask for what they want, to experiment, and to be themselves. (pp. 100-101).
Here is something else Gary says in his book that I really love: “I care more about my employees than I do my customers, and I care more about my customers than I do breathing.” (p. 91). Cha-ching! Gary is loving his employees all the way to the bank.
Create a system that attracts and retains remarkable employees and then enables them to impress the socks off your customers. If from time to time an ambitious employee leaves for a different opportunity, don’t worry, because the system you’ve created to impress your employees will attract a steady stream of equally talented folks to replace them.
Underdeveloping and undertrusting your employees is the path to operational malaise. There are multiple paths to earning a reputation as a great place for great people to work, but they all head north, not south.
Which path are you and your company on?