10 easy ways to protect your brand’s reputation – online

Over the past months the news has been filled with public figures who have lost their jobs due to posts or comments they’ve made on the internet.  Whilst some were recent posts others were in the distant past, but it still came back to haunt them.   An organisation is just like a person, over the years comments, news stories and customer reviews leave a story on the internet.  So what can an organisation do to protect or improve their organisation’s reputation?  

Your website

As an owned asset, i.e. you control all the content on there, this is the easiest place to start. If you don’t like the way something is written you can simply change it.    

1. Check your website aligns with your mission and is up to date

Your website acts as the first point of contact with your organisation for most people, so make sure it reflects your organisation’s mission and all information is up to date. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than to enquire about a service but then be told “we no longer do that”, or for your upcoming events page to be retrospective.  If you’re unsure if your website needs updating you can take a free website health check.

2. Check for mistakes

Now you’ve dealt with the big issues, go through your website and check for spelling mistakes and inaccuracies.  Then going forward make sure everything you publish is double checked to make sure it is a true reflection of your brand and that it’s accurate.  The best way is by introducing quality and compliance system. You don’t want an error like the $50 note.

Customer reviews

If customers aren’t happy with you, they used to let you know directly, and maybe tell their friends.  It’s now much easier for people to vent their frustration, reaching a larger audience by writing negative comments online.  This means it is essential to make sure everyone in your organisation knows how to respond to criticism and hopefully appease the customer before they start publishing their thoughts.  But when someone writes a negative review online what can you do?

3. Have policies and processes in place to manage negative comments

For serious issues you need to have a crisis plan in place.  Especially if there is risk to people, it’s prudent to involve a PR company that specialises in crisis management.   For day to day issues like people complaining about a service or staff member it’s important to know what comments to respond to, how to respond to them and what tone of voice to take.  Having a plan, with pre-approved responses in place, allows you to respond quickly and with confidence.  Think about how you can turn a bad review into a positive experience, not just for that person, but for anyone who reads the reviews and your reply in the future.

4. Monitor online comments and reviews

The most prominent places people can review you are via Google and Facebook reviews, so make sure you monitor these, preferably every day.  A quick response shows you actually care what people think about your organisation.  There may also be review sites that are specific to your sector (e.g. Clickability – disability, TripAdvisor – tourism, UberEats – food delivery).  Don’t forget to monitor these too.

5. Acknowledge positive feedback

Don’t ignore positive comments. Replying with a simple ‘thanks for the great review’ could turn a good reviewer into a great brand advocate.  Good news travels just as well as bad news.

Search engines

Each time a customer types your name into search engines like Bing and Google, they ‘crawl’ the internet and link to articles that mention your company.  Do you know what they’re seeing when they type your company name?  If not give it a try and see.  

6. Check contact details

The first thing to check is can people contact you.  Your website should come up first in the list.  If not, you might think about investing in upgrades to your website to improve your ranking.  Look to the right hand side of the page and you should see your business listing.   If it’s not there, there is missing or wrong information, or you don’t like the images, you can make changes by claiming your business.  All you have to do is create your Google or Bing account by following the links.  

7. Check for directory listings

Next, review any business directory listings on the first four pages of Google and Bing (which will cover approximately 98% of people searching). Make sure that any listings have your correct contact details.  If not contact the listing and ask them to be changed.  A customer will soon move onto a competitor if they can’t reach you.

8. Check for news and other mentions of your brand

If your see negative articles about your organisation, you need to create new content that search engines will prioritise over old content (on generic searches like your organisations name).  This way negative news about your organisation moves down the search results so less people will see them.  A study by Chitka Insights showed that 91.5% of users clicked on results from the first page of Google.  The best way to create new news is through a blog on your website, and by asking partners to share articles, as this will help the search engine ranking.  

9. Set up alerts

Create search engine alerts for your organisation. This way you’ll be informed anytime your organisation is mentioned on web pages.  While you can’t control what people write, knowing what’s been written gives you the opportunity to promote good news and create a strategy to deal with bad news.  Instructions on how to set up Alerts in Google and Bing  can be found via the links.

10. Try social listening tools

Unfortunately Bing and Google alerts don’t always pick up text on social media, but a free social listening tool like www.social-searcher.com can. This allows you to set up free daily email alerts to track social media.

Manage your brand’s reputation online

If you need help to build or manage your brand’s reputation you can book a free consult with me.  


Tom Rippon
Marketing Consultant
Email: trippon@cbb.com.au  


Five ways systems and processes can negatively affect your organisation

“A business that looks orderly says to your customer that your people know what they’re doing.”― Michael E. Gerb

Systems and process, the ‘how’ you do the things you do in your organisation, may seem boring and of not much importance, but they matter more than think.

Inefficient ways of conducting your work can include using outdated tools or technology, double handling information and a lack of transparency in the work being done. These are some of the most common ways systems and processes are outdated and inefficient. Using fax, paper forms and technology that hasn’t been updated in years are specific examples of these.

There are five ways this can negatively affect your organisation.

1. Frustrate staff

Something small may not be annoying in itself, but if it has to be repeated multiple times a day, every day, it can quickly become frustrating and demoralising.

2. Poor customer experience

When your internal systems are weak, your customers and users of your services are often impacted by a poor customer experience. Conversely modern streamlined processes often result in great customer experiences.Customers using good mobile applications to book services often comment on positive experiences such as not having to re-enter personal details (as they are saved in the app) and being able to make their booking at any time of the day.

3. Dangerous

Manual outdated processes have a much higher chance of mistakes. For example paper forms can allow endless mistakes to occur – often undetected – whereas an electronic form with built in validations can ensure data accuracy and prevent a number of mistakes. Mistakes and errors can administrative annoyances or they can be much much worse.For example a paper form will almost always ask the customer to fill out their name and personal details such as date of birth, every time they complete the form. Electronic forms can of course save these details and provide a greater customer experience. Furthermore safeguards can be put in place to prevent errors and increase accuracy. One organisation that was using paper-based forms reported that a number of customers had changes in their date of birth from form to form, highlighting just how susceptible to error the continued use of paper forms can be.

4. Costs

The longer something takes and the more mistakes that need to be addressed, the more it will cost your organisation. This is especially true of staff, which are often one of the biggest overhead costs for organisations. The cost is both financial and opportunity cost, as other work cannot be completed if staff are too busy correcting errors. Non-value tasks hinder an organisation’s ability to maximise the impact they are making, as staff are pulled away from value add activities to complete non-value, but perhaps urgent, tasks.

5. Can’t grow

If your organisation grows with inefficient processes and systems, it runs the risks of having more frustrated staff, more customers with a poor experience and more mistakes that need your attention. As you grow, the impact that your organisation is making is likely to be greater, however the problems and inefficiencies currently being faced will also be greater which may in turn may cause staff to leave, leave customers unsatisfied and result in the objectives of your organisation not being met.

You may be asking, how do you know if you have internal systems and processes that require your attention? Two key sources of feedback are your staff and your customers. Pain points and/or complaints will often reveal a poor system or process. Furthermore, intuitively you will know that certain systems and processes need updating. Chances are you’ve had good experiences as a customer with other organisations or you’re using a system that the whole world knows is outdated and have a thought to yourself, there has to be a better way.

CBB has a number of consultants with experience in processes mapping and the streamlining of systems and processes. For an obligation free consultation, please contact us on 1300 763 505.

 

Dimitri Matsouliadis
Business Consultant
Email: dmatsouliadis@cbb.com.au
Phone: 1300 763 505


Building a cash bridge

Building a cash bridge

“When you build a bridge, you insist it can carry 30,000 pounds, but you only drive 10,000 pound trucks across it” – Warren Buffett

All organisations need cash to live, breathe and operate on a daily basis. Cash is very much like oxygen, not really a big deal until you don’t have any and then it’s a really big deal, really quickly. Furthermore it doesn’t matter how healthy you are, if you’re without air for a short period, you’re in trouble.

Organisations are exactly the same. An organisation can be extremely prosperous for many years but become unstuck if they are left without the required cash to meet their commitments for even a short period of time. How long will employees be willing to work without pay? How long will suppliers continue to provide their services on credit?

It’s a scary thought, but cash flow risk can largely be mitigated by building a strong reserve. All shortfalls in cash must financed. They can be financed through financiers such as banks, your suppliers offering credit, or your own cash reserves/savings.

Cash reserves are the safest, easiest and most reliable safe guard against cash flow issues.

To state the obvious, cash is an asset that your organisation owns, an asset that you control and, most importantly, an asset that doesn’t need approval from a third party (such as a bank) to access.

So how much cash should your organisation put aside? This is a difficult question and will largely depend on management’s risk tolerance and the perceived risks that your organisation may face in the future. For example, risks such as your cash-flow cycle, income model (ie block funding in advance or individualised payments in arrears) and competitor landscape should all be considered when evaluating risk. Understanding the kind of financial or cash flow risks you are facing will help you to identify the level of reserve needed to protect your organisation.

An organisation with management that are not overly risk averse and not overly concerned about any perceived future risk, may not believe that they need large cash reserves. Conversely an organisation that is worried about the future risk they may face, may choose to build large cash reserves.

As a general rule at least three months of all expenses should held in cash in reserve. Ideally six months will be held, and 12 months plus is, of course, a much more conservative approach. When evaluating how much cash to hold in reserve it is also important to consider the timing associated with risks. For example if your organisation has a risk of losing funding but will be given a minimum of three months’ notice, then this should be factored in.

The rationale here is, if no income at all came in – not a single dollar – how long would you need to operate to get yourself back on track or at minimum payout all your obligations to staff and third parties? However if the likelihood of you losing all your income at once is low, you should reflect this when setting your reserves level.

As outlined above, a number of factors need to be considered and analysed. When considering these factors, an independent qualified adviser will be able to help you navigate your options relative to your risk exposure, and ensure that you calculate the appropriate amount of cash reserves for your organisation.

To find out how CBB can assist, please get in touch with Dimitri:

 

Dimitri Matsouliadis
Business Consultant
Email: dmatsouliadis@cbb.com.au
Phone: 1300 763 505


When leadership is an impossible job

Impossible leadership

As a Brit living and working in Australia, I’ve been reflecting on the mess that is Brexit, and, in the wake of Theresa May’s resignation as British Prime Minister, what it tells us about leadership, and the impossible job. Leadership – given its embeddedness in individual and organisational psychology – is a complex topic. There have been millions of words written about it, some based on sophisticated studies, and some of which are probably nonsense. What follows are my personal reflections and observations based on a 25 year career of working with leaders, and being in leadership positions myself. Central to the meaning of ‘leadership’ is that it requires followers. I’m not a fan of the term ‘followers’ because it implies subservience – definitely not something I want from the people I work with. However, leadership does require a team. You can’t lead in a vacuum, or without vision. These are the two key features that have been lacking in the last three years of the British Prime Ministership, making leadership a near impossible job for Mrs May.

  1. Leadership rests on shared vision

Rule #1 of leadership: develop a vision – or at least some common goals and objectives – that your team can commit to. With significant divisions within the UK Conservative party regarding the shape Brexit should take, Mrs May has been unable to build consensus within her own team. The same weekend that Mrs May resigned, I read articles about the Australian Federal election, and the anti-vaxxer movement. Both cited research showing that, when presented with evidence that contradicts their opinions, people hold on to their existing opinion more strongly. Our human tendency to look for evidence that validates – rather than challenges – our viewpoints, coupled with social media’s propensity to present more of what we like, means most of us live in an echo-chamber with inadequate perspective on the broader world. More dangerously, we heavily criticise politicians for changing their standing on an issue, making them reluctant to actually listen to evidence and shift their position. One British political commentator, Peter Oborne (who was a Brexiteer) has publically changed his stance on Brexit and urged others to do the same. Although his story has been widely shared, it’s had little impact. Instead, positions have become more entrenched and more polarised, and the behaviours more vicious. Little space is left for negotiation or compromise, and there’s scant hope of creating a shared vision across the ‘team’ responsible for delivering Brexit.

Shared vision depends on diversity and a healthy culture

We hope that, in our professional lives, we operate with a more open mindset, with the capacity to take on board new evidence, and alternative perspectives. This is why diversity in teams – of experience, perspectives and thinking styles – is so important. Challenging and testing assumptions is critical to busting groupthink and building a robust, shared vision that everyone can get behind. But to build a consensus, you need a safe environment for constructive challenge and considered debate. It’s pretty difficult to have honest face to face discussions if everyone’s watching their back and waiting for the next manoeuvre. Which brings us to point two…

  1. Leadership requires team support

Leaders are only as good as their teams. Team support is vital to getting the work done, in thinking through challenges, in creating new opportunities, in innovating improvements. You can’t do it alone, and you certainly can’t do it if your team are fighting and undermining you (and each other) all the time. This has clearly been another major challenge for the UK Prime Minister. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have people in your team that want your job (and who have the competence or potential to do it). They can stretch you as a leader and build a pipeline for succession. What’s not good is having people that are openly hostile and trying to unseat you. Exit Mrs Theresa May, British PM.

Build a stronger team with clear behavioural expectations.

While we would hope for better behaviours in the workplace, people’s professionalism can’t always be assumed. A behaviours framework that sets explicit and objective expectations of workplace behaviour – towards each other, clients and stakeholders – is useful here. Formalising a behaviours framework gives you criteria against which you can recruit and select new employees, and manage those whose behaviours undermine the integrity and values of your organisation.

Support for Leadership

Whilst we hope that the febrile environment of national politics is not played out in not for profits across Australia, organisation cultures – and organisation leaders – do need to be nurtured and cared for to keep them healthy. You can read more about how to avoid a toxic workplace here.

If you have concerns about the culture in your organisation, or you’re a leader that needs a bit of external support, get in touch with Jane:


Jane Arnott
General Manager, Consulting and Business Services
Email: jarnott@cbb.com.au
Phone: 1300 284 364


Market orientation: Why it matters for your community

With more organisations moving their core business to consumer directed funding models such as NDIS and My Aged Care, change is in the air – for providers and their clients and beneficiaries. For the first time, clients hold the purse-strings – and with them, the chance to exercise true choice and control over the services they receive. For the first time, individuals – not the government
– are the customer.

For a customer-driven market to thrive, there must be sufficient choice available from a range of providers, offering services that fulfil genuine community needs in a way that’s sustainable, ethical, and generates positive social impact.

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Should you diversify your income?

We’ve all heard of the expression – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a valid expression with merit. If you earn all your income from just one source and that goes away, then it’s highly likely that your organisation will go away too. So does that mean you should diversify your income? Not necessarily.

Before we jump into whether or not you should diversify the income of your organisation, we should cover what diversification of income is.

Income can be diversified in two ways

1 Different providers of the income

These are the actual people and organisations who hand over their money to your organisation. The two extremes here would be one customer vs thousands of customers. It worth noting that we are talking about people and organisations that provide income to your organisation and as such this includes grants and donations. Another way to look at this may be one annual grant vs 20 annual grants.

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Communications – do it once, do it right

People aren’t perfect, mistakes happen and that can affect your bottom line directly (in the cost of fixing the mistake) or indirectly, by affecting your organisation’s reputation.  So it’s important to have a system in place to eliminate errors.

“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”

Wyatt Earp

Setting up a quality assurance and compliance system need not be an arduous task. When operational, the system allows your organisation to operate more efficiently, creating better results and allows you to focus on delivering better outcomes for your community, rather than re-doing work.

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Planning mission-focused marketing next financial year? You’re going to need this map.

Two hands putting pins on a map

With the end of the financial year fast approaching and budgets being drafted, now is a great time to start reviewing your marketing and engagement strategies, ready to plan your investment for the year ahead.

If you’re providing services under the NDIS, the end of this financial year is a particularly important milestone – 30 June 2019 marks the end of transition of existing disability service clients to NDIS in SA. For many service providers, that’s going to mean a big shift in focus – from helping existing clients transition, to positioning your services to attract new clients to your service. 

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How much time do staff spend managing Facebook?

image of clock with marketing strategy words around it and a yellow background

All businesses need to have a Facebook page, and have employees spending time each day writing posts and monitoring comments – or do they? 

It all comes down to your return on investment, a Facebook page is just a communication channel after all. But in order to understand what your return on investment is, you need to look at your whole marketing strategy. 

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The deeper purposes of a budget

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” – Alan Lakein

A budget may seem like a boring administrative task that “needs” to be done by the finance team to keep stakeholders like the board happy, but a good budget serves a much deeper purpose.

A good budget will help your organisation:

  1. Deliver its social impact
  2. Know if you’re on track
  3. Plan for success
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