Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’
I was taking a look at the new Harris Poll RQ study that was released this week. Reputations of U.S. companies are always important to review in order to see how companies or sectors are improving while others are declining. The survey has some reptuational nuggets worth sharing here.
This year, 16% of the U.S. public said that the reputation of corporate America was improving, an increase of 7% over one year earlier. That is positive news despite the fact that 49% of consumers say it is declining. That is not a surprise because trust in business has reached its lowest depths over the past few years of economic decline. But it is a good sign that reputations are making somewhat of a comeback.
But what really has left me thinking twice is not the finding that Amazon.com is the most highly reputable company in America this year, a notch above Apple. What has me in a state of awesome disbelief is that Amazon earned nearly 100% positive ratings on all measures related to Trust and that among Americans who have discussed Amazon with their family and friends, nearly 100% of these conversations were positive about the online retailer. I have rarely, if ever, seen a company ever get that close to 100%. I’ve been conducting research for a long long time and this is an amazing feat. 100% satisfaction! A rarity.
The Harris Poll also found that more than 60% of consumers say that they now “proactively try to learn more about how a company conducts itself” before they consider buying that company’s products and services. Again, the world of reputation is seriously changing when people care this much about a company’s treatment of employees, customers and communities. Values are increasingly playing a greater role in reputational perceptions and this market force is only going to continue. Mark my words.
Just read this article in Forbes about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ number one leadership secret. I’ve followed him for years and enjoy reading about how Amazon has grown from a bookseller to an everything store online. I had already been thinking about about the importance of employees and customers for new CEOs when I read that Bezos’ number one leadership secret is that the customer is always right. There is this example described in the article that when Bezos calls meetings, he leaves an empty seat at the conference table for what he calls the customer’s seat. A potent reminder to bring the customer’s point of view to the table. The article hints at the fact that Bezos has built his hugely successful business bent on “coddling his 164 million customers, not his 56,000 employees.” This has me wondering that in this age of the Internet and social media galore, if customers are now more important than employees, maybe because of sheer size? The pendulum seems to be swinging again anyway. It used to be that all business activities were primarily all about customers, then all about employees and now… it’s all about equal parts’ employees and customers but with customers gaining the upper hand again. The Internet has created a sense of urgency about how satisfied your customers are. Probably because they spread word of mouth more quickly and seem to have more power than employees. They can advocate or criticize your business approach or customer service online for all to see. They have more power because they have so many choices from which to buy from. The answer for new CEOs, however, appears to be focusing on employees with a healthy dose of understanding what your customers want and quickly scaling to reach them online to confirm what employees are telling you. Something to think about over the next few weeks. Whose more important — employees or customers for new CEOs and CEOs who’ve been in office for some time?
I have posted about scenario planning before and wrote about it in my last book as well. Scenario planning is a good way to plot what your leadership might do when their reputation falls off a cliff. I have always been fascinated by the process, especially when it works. In fact, I have a recent Royal Dutch Shell Scenario Planning book that I bought from Amazon about three years ago. I keep it out on my desk as a reminder of a smart way to plan. It was amazing to me that it sold commercially.
Today’s WSJ had an article on the return of scenario planning. It was very popular after 9-11 when companies felt the urgent need to prepare for such sudden disasters. Apparently it lost some favor as the economy became bullish and everyone lost their senses. A study by Bain & Co. which I have used in presentations showed that scenario planning had soared from 1999 to 2002 as a risk management tool (up 30%) among senior executives. Now it is back on the upswing as we face unprecedented economic challenges.
I did not realize that scenario planning first surfaced in the US Military in the 1950s and became popular with companies such as GE and Shell in the 1970s. My mistake for believing that Royal Dutch Shell was the source.
Peter Schwartz, a partner at the Monitor Group and former head of the Global Business Network where I first learned about him, says that scenario planning is a learning tool and for making informed decisions. Not just a tool for the worst case scenario but a process for learning how to make the right and avoid the wrong decisions. The article ends on an upbeat note – that perhaps scenario planning can be used to plot possible responses to a business upturn.
Same could be said about reputation recovery. Time to start. Never too early. Only too late.