Effectively managing your company's reputation can be tricky. Here are five project management practices that can help smooth the way.
Your company's reputation tells customers everything they need to know about what to expect when interacting with your business, especially when it comes to trust or credibility.
Everyday companies strive to establish, improve, or at least maintain a reputation that aligns with its vision. These five project management practices can help to smooth reputation management.
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1. Establishing financial accountability
Delivering a great product or service isn't enough. Being seen as the highest priced option around can damage your company's reputation. Today, customers expect a company's product or service to be priced in a way that provides them with the value that they anticipate. To meet their needs, your business must establish financial accountability, and this means effectively controlling costs and meeting budgeted goals.
Cost overruns on projects mean your customers bear the burden in one way or another, likely through higher-priced products or services. Although your company does not need to be the lowest-priced option around, it can be difficult to convince customers to pay for products or services at the highest end of the spectrum. To provide customers with assurances that they are only paying as much as necessary, ensure that your company is identifying and implementing relevant and useful financial key performance indicators (KPIs) that help to trace costs and keep them in line with expectations.
2. Effectively managing all resources
To keep costs in line with expectations, it is essential that all resources are clearly and correctly identified, allocated, and effectively managed. Over or under allocating your resources can negatively impact your company's budget, timeline, the quality of your products or services, and ultimately your company's reputation.
Poor resource management can signal to customers that you may not know what's important to them or how to handle your resources in ways that are efficient or cost effective. This tells them that if you are unable to coordinate and manage your own internal resources, then your business is operating under chaotic or at least less-than-ideal conditions. Make sure you are able to conduct resource leveling when and where needed to avoid squandered or over-exhausted resources that can drive up costs or impact final deliverables.
3. Developing quality assurance parameters
Regardless of cost, customers typically expect at least a reasonable quality product. The higher the cost the higher the expectation. Let's face it, these days even a purchase of a product at a dollar store still comes with a reasonable expectation around quality. Delivering substandard products or services can be devastating to your company's reputation.
The reality is that most customers may overlook cost, and they may even wait longer for a product or service, but low quality is seldom forgiven. Identifying your customer's needs and expectations and developing a quality assurance program around this can greatly improve your company's reputation and help to maintain your place as a provider of quality products or services.
SEE: Quality assurance checklist for outsourced projects (Tech Pro Research)
4. Ensuring on-time delivery
Depending on your company's product or service, on-time delivery can take on a different meaning with each customer at one time or another. However, it is unlikely that any one customer will remain patient if your company continually misses the expected timeline for delivery. Missing deadlines with regularity negatively reflects on your company's reputation and ultimately results in a loss of business. Accurately estimating the schedule for the delivery of a product or service and ensuring that resources are effectively assigned to meet deadlines is key. Make sure your company accurately sets delivery schedules and is able to meet customer expectations for products or services to avoid appearing unreliable.
5. Ensuring transparency with all stakeholders
Most customers are patient and understanding when issues arise that may impact the delivery of a product or service, assuming it is not a regular occurrence. Keep customers and all stakeholders up to date as soon as possible to avoid appearing as though you are hiding things. The key to gaining and keeping a customer's trust and managing credibility is ensuring there are regular communications and transparency with all stakeholders.
Positive reputation management relies on financial accountability, effective resource management, quality assurance practices, on-time delivery and above all else, transparency.
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