Your company’s reputation is the most valuable asset
Protecting your company’s reputation is an ongoing process and there’s no silver bullet.
Reputational risk considers that bad publicity could harm a business’s brand perception and reduce its revenue-generating ability.
A company’s reputation is subjective and based on public perception. It has the power to drive the behavior of consumers, employees, investors, and regulators. While an unfavorable opinion may deter people from interacting with the company, a positive reputation helps a small business obtain new customers, secure financing, and attract qualified employees.
A strong reputation takes a long time to cultivate and requires considerable effort to maintain. Many businesses are connected to customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders via the Internet, leaving them vulnerable. Bad actors can quickly damage a carefully crafted reputation with a few taps on a computer keyboard.
These 5 suggested steps can help prevent and mitigate reputation risk:
1. Strong Online Privacy is Strong Cyber Defense
Removing personally identifiable information (PII) from the Internet strengthens cybersecurity defense and protects your company’s reputation. Safeguard against social engineering by removing personal data from the Internet.
2. Protect yourself against data breaches.
It’s not uncommon today for hackers to gain access to confidential customer and employee information. See the Equifax Data Breach. While this may be beyond your control, how you react will make a difference in mitigating any reputation risk you might run.
Whether the breach’s cause is your company’s fault or not, the best course of action is to be immediately upfront. Reacting quickly to inform those affected, showing accountability, and swiftly putting plans into action to restore information safety can help you stem the flow of negativity that can become a significant reputation risk.
Tactical suggestions to strengthen privacy and security posture:
- Educate your first line of defense – “Your Users.” Here are our 10 tips.
- Make sure to set-up a cybersecurity team and issue cybersecurity policies and procedures.
- Update your IT security controls and follow through on every security update.
- Implement advance threat analytic tools to help you detect suspicious activity so that you can react timely – time is of the essence during a potential breach.
- Set up a task force trained to be the first respondents when disaster strikes.
- Purchase cyber insurance.
3. Be vigilant about customer service mishaps.
Today social media has empowered customers to spread the word about dissatisfaction with your product, service, or personal treatment by employees at scale. This is a reputation risk that’s difficult to recover from since negative reviews can leave a permanent digital footprint. What is said about your company online is like an electronic tattoo.
Identify where there’s a misalignment between values and behaviors and take steps to correct the misalignment. Then you can incorporate your values into every aspect of the company. Social media also empowers companies to respond directly to their customers. An upset customer is an opportunity to address an outstanding issue and even bolster your reputation.
Keep your employees happy to prevent reputation risk. Happy employees are more likely to treat colleagues and customers well, thereby boosting your reputation as a good company.
Make values genuinely operational. Values should be incorporated into every aspect of the company, whether it’s employee selection, performance management, rewards, or resource allocation. This can help send a clear message that your values are not just window dressing.
4. Be mindful of ethical conduct.
Another factor relating to reputation risk a relapse in ethics. Ensure this crucial area of reputation risk doesn’t fall under the radar by having transparent workplace practices and policies. Reputation risk that stems from ethical slips, whether intentional or unintentional, can cause a great deal of damage.
5. Manage external reputation risks.
As mentioned earlier, some reputation risks may stem from outside your organization. These could come from unethical partners, agents, suppliers, contractors, and any other third parties you deal with.
While you cannot always foresee these risks, it’s essential to take proactive steps and mitigate any negative fallout triggered by association. Keep your ear to the ground and know who you’re dealing with.
Protect your company’s reputation by owning up to a mistake and be prepared with a solution.
Join the movement #Privacyfirst