Posted by John Kleeman
A recent corporate survey reported in Insurance Journal suggests that reputation is the hardest risk to manage. The survey indicates that 81% of companies see reputation as their most significant asset but are challenged in knowing how to protect it.
Warren Buffett famously said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it”. So how can organization’s avoid those fateful five minutes?
Assessments can be a great tool to mitigate risk to reputation. I’d like to share some ideas on this from my Questionmark colleagues, Eric Shepherd and Brian McNamara.
Let’s start by considering the classic business model shown in the diagram below. A company uses its core capabilities in Production with a supplier network and product/services development to make an Offer to its customers, which it communicates via a sales and marketing Channel, with a supporting Finance structure.
The pink shaded areas in the diagram are where there is reputation risk.
If you make mistakes within Production – in regulatory compliance, processes & procedures or health & safety – this can seriously hurt your reputation. Errors in regulatory compliance or failing to follow processes & procedures can similarly damage reputation in Finance. Assessments can help by confirming health and safety, checking the competence of employees and testing knowledge of processes & procedures.
Many companies have a bigger challenge in the sales and marketing Channel, as this is more spread out and harder to control. You have to comply with laws on how you sell, both industry-specific and general ones like anti-corruption. The people in your Channel must have product/solution knowledge. And reputation is hurt by overselling and unsatisfied customers.
The diagram below breaks down the Channel into typical parts:
How can assessments help with reputation challenges in the Channel?
When you message your customers, there is a risk that your messaging is inappropriate or that messages do not resonate. Most organizations assess customers with surveys to determine if they are “getting it”.
You need your sales people, whether in-house personnel or partners, to comply with laws and avoid corruption. They need to ensure your customers are satisfied, by selling fairly and not using trickery. Online quizzes and tests are great ways to check your sales people know all the rules and are competent to sell. Observational assessments using tablets or smartphones also let supervisors check team members.
In customer care, a challenge is high staff turnover, requiring lots of training. As in sales, the customer care team need product and process knowledge and need to satisfy customers. Quizzes and tests motivate learning, maintain focus and enable recognition of people who “get it”.
Lastly, every company has challenges when products or services don’t work. How you deal with problems impacts your reputation. The challenge for technical support is to delight the customer and fix problems on first call.
Quizzes and tests are useful in technical support, but something that works really well for technical teams is a certification program. Skills and knowledge required are often complex, and using assessments to certify gives technical support teams career progression. It also encourages pride in their jobs, leading to better employee retention and better service.
I hope this article helps you realize that online assessments help solve one of the biggest challenges facing business – mitigating risk to reputation. Next time you are making an internal case for online assessments, consider whether your senior management might find reducing reputation risk a compelling reason to deploy assessments.