Reputation matters: Finding meaning and direction (with a little advice from Blake Irving of GoDaddy)

reputation matters

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Your brand’s reputation can seem like its most important asset–or its greatest liability. A good reputation can be destroyed by a single incident, or by a trail of customer disappointment. Here’s how to use technology and common sense to maintain a good company reputation.

There are three steps to resolving reputation issues:

1. Listen

First listen carefully to what’s being said about your brand. Tools like Mention or Google Alerts can be a vital asset in understanding customer perception about your business.

While it might seem like a news article would be the loudest platform for complaint, social media mentions are more trusted by the consumer, so even a nasty tweet can really hurt your brand.

Don’t leave monitoring the brand’s reputation to the social media manager, though. A conscientious CEO should Google their business regularly, using the “Tools” function to narrow the search to the last week.

2. Reflect

Then take the time to learn from your customer’s opinion of you. Is it true? Is it undeserved? Could you be doing better?

The key to really understanding what the customer thinks is to talk directly to customer-facing employees, not to middle-management. This might mean breaking the chain of command, but your team members who sell to customers and resolve their issues will know best what the customer really wants.

If you have a large company, consider using survey tools such as Typeform.

3. Resolve

Finally, don’t just resolve the issue at hand, also make a resolution to do better in the future. Does your company handbook need an update? Should there be an employee training session? Maybe this even needs to work its way into the company mission.

If the offense is egregious, consider making your promise public. Wells Fargo is writing apology notes to all of its customers, not just the ones who they signed up for unwanted credit cards.

Reputation repair advice from Blake Irving of GoDaddy

I recently attended the Product Hunt live chat with Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy. GoDaddy is a very interesting company right now. They are expanding from being primarily a domain registrar to adding features such as webpage building. However, what I was most interested in was their amazing reputation turn around.

I asked:

GoDaddy is one of the biggest success stories in gender equality — going from slightly obnoxious (sorry!) SuperBowl ads to taking the equal pay pledge — some marketing and PR textbooks now use GoDaddy as an example. Do you have advice for companies looking to a) make real change on this front and b) convey that change to the public?

And Blake was kind enough to answer:

@kikischirr my advice for making real change on the ‘equal pay’ front is to commit to it and stick with it. It’s not a quick fix, and you have to be willing to be transparent with your own salary data – that means taking the time to analyze what you pay men and women in like-roles and sharing it externally, even when the stats aren’t where you want them to be. Once you have a baseline, keep measuring, keep sharing and keep doing the work – this might mean paying it backward, which means not basing a woman’s salary on what she made in her previous position, but paying her what the position pays.

As for conveying the change to the public – I wouldn’t recommend you get too focused on public perception. Do it because it’s not only the right thing to do, but because it’s good for business. (we know diverse teams build better products, which benefits our customers, and is better for the bottom line) Obviously, the more people know about the work, the more companies are likely to join the cause. We took a leading role in the Employers for Pay Equity consortium last summer because we wanted to share some of what we’ve been doing over the past two years for gender pay equality and, hopefully, help move the initiative forward, faster. The Equal Pay Pledge is a good way to get started, Every time a new company signs on, it’s an opportunity to convey the message about equal pay.

(emphasis added by author)

Blake’s advice surprised me, actually. I expected a longer, more thorough answer as to how to announce your change to the public. However, his slight admonishment was that public perception isn’t as important as your company’s actions!

This reminded me an old quote:

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.

–Abraham Lincoln (attributed posthumously)

Try to remember that customer perception will shift, like a shadow, to follow the core beliefs and actions of your company. If you don’t want a crooked shadow, be sure your company grows straight and true.

Company pledges

Here’s a short list of pledges your company can make:

Pay equity

Company philanthropy

Fair speaker gender ratios

Tech inclusion

And if you’re looking for resources on diversity at your company, I would highly recommend checking out Project Include.


KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer. She is an avid Product Hunt user and loves learning about new technologies. Kiki is currently focusing on a Medium publication she calls Tech Doodles and can be reached easily through Twitter.


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