It’s easy to slip into the dangerous waters of thinking that a single person is in charge of your brand’s reputation. We want to be able to hand off the task to a branding expert or even a dedicated online reputation manger.
But the truth? Every employee is responsible for your brand’s reputation.
Yes, everyone from a company’s CEO to their janitor is in charge of branding. If that thought scares you, you might need to reconsider the type of people you’re hiring.
Now, clearly, an entry-level employee is probably not the person who should be making branding decisions for your company, but they have their fingers in your reputation management as much as any member of your management team.
Almost everyone has at least one social account these days. What your employees say about you and your company online matter. If they’re unhappy with working conditions, don’t like your products, or feel as though they are being ignored, they will speak out online. Even if you have an NDA so they can’t disclose specific information, they can – and will – let it be known that they are unhappy with their work and with you an employer.
This can have a devastating effect on your reputation if the right people are listening.
More importantly, the Internet is a big place, and chances are that you are a bit disconnected from your customers, no matter how awesome your community management and social teams may be. Lower-level employees can often more easily see what people are saying about your brand online. Plus, they know what people are saying behind closed doors. A customer who is too intimidated to tell you the truth might rant to one of your employees if given the chance.
Contrary to popular believe, pay rate is only part of the equation if you want your employees to be happy. If you think you can’t afford to make your employees happier, you’re mistaken. Here are just a few of the “little things” you can do that are actually really huge in creating a better work atmosphere:
Empowering your employees turns them into fans of your company. I can tell you horror stories of how some companies run when you are an employee who gets to see behind the curtain. This kind of information leaks out, and if people know that you don’t treat employees well, it affects their buying habits. But turn your employees into true fans, and others will get to know how awesome you are as well.
Since every employee you hire is essentially part of your brand, it’s important to hire the right employees. This is about more than just skill set, experience, and talent. When hiring, consider:
Overall, go for the person who feels “right” for your company culture over the person with the better resume. Yes, skills matter, but you can teach someone how to do a job. You can’t teach someone to “fit in” with your company. Personality doesn’t change.
No matter whom you hire, make sure that your employees are prepared for the job they are doing and how to speak with customers, both online and off, even if they aren’t customer service reps. Make sure that not only are employees happy, but they know how to deal with reputation problems when they see them. Create a reputation damage control plan, and hold training sessions for all employees, not just those in the customer service department.
About the Author: Allison Boyer is a content marketer who blogs regularly about blogging, email, social media, and more at AllisonBoyer.com.