Principle 46 of the Christ-Centered Company Assessment: “Our company is proactive about guarding our company’s reputation.”
“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.” -Proverbs 22:1
If you ask most people for an example of a “Christian company,” Chick-fil-A will typically be the first company named. This is primarily because protecting its “good name,” based on Proverbs 22:1, was one of Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy’s guiding biblical principles in establishing the company. From its God-oriented mission statement to its relentless commitment to going the “extra mile” for its customers and employees, the enduring “good name” legacy of Truett Cathy through Chick-fil-A was built by design, not coincidence.
In business, our greatest and most lasting achievement will be that the company cultures we’re cultivating lead people closer to Jesus. This is the Christ-centered “good name” we are called to cultivate and protect as individuals and company leaders. Following the examples of Truett Cathy and countless other Christ-centered company leaders, be proactive about guarding your company’s “good name” to ensure your company’s culture and practices are leading people toward Jesus.
Did Jesus defend his “good name”?
How did Jesus react when people said false things about him? If we haven’t studied His behavior as recorded in the Four Gospels, we might be content to assume his response was always to “turn the other cheek,” as He instructed His disciples to do. For Jesus, did “turn the other cheek” mean we ought to just say nothing when people speak lies against us publicly or even privately? Certainly not! Turning the other cheek was an admonition to avoid taking revenge, not an admonition to be a doormat and let people spread lies about you and your company without rebuking them.
People frequently said and implied things about Jesus that were not true. And Jesus didn’t let them get away with it by saying nothing. Here are a few examples:
- Criticism from John the Baptist: “When John the Baptist was in prison, he heard what Jesus was doing. He sent his followers. They asked, ‘Are You the One Who was to come, or should we look for another?’”(Matt. 11:2-3)
- Jesus’ retort: “Jesus said to them, ‘Go and tell John what you see and hear. The blind are made to see. Those who could not walk are walking. Those who have had bad skin diseases are healed. Those who could not hear are hearing. The dead are raised up to life and the Good News is preached to poor people. He is happy who is not ashamed of Me and does not turn away because of Me.’” (Matt. 11:4-6)
- Criticism from the Pharisees: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a heavy drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Matt. 11:19a)
- Jesus’ retort: “And yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”(Matt. 11:19b)
- Criticism from the scribes: “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said,“He is possessed by Beelzebub, and by the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” (Mark 3:22)
- Jesus’ retort: “So He called them to Him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rises up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then he will plunder his house.” (Mark 3:23-27)
Paul writes that Jesus “made of himself no reputation,” but this doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t control the narrative about who He was and is. As I point out in Marketing Like Jesus, He used all sorts of descriptive metaphors and claims to brand himself in the minds of people: “bread of life” (John 6:48), “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), “the good shepherd” (John 10:11), and “the true vine” (John 15:1).
He inquired what people thought about him, especially wanting to know what his closest disciples thought about him. He asked them,
- Who do people say I am?
- Who do you say I am?
Certainly, he knew them and their thoughts better than they knew themselves, but he still asked for their feedback with the goal of helping them to become better disciples.
What are some practical ways we can monitor our company’s reputation over time to find out what people are thinking and saying about us, giving us an opportunity to respond appropriately? This knowledge will help us to cultivate and protect our company’s “good name.”
Ask for customer feedback in private.
Whether their negative criticism is valid or not, it’s always better to have your customers share any negative feedback about your company privately rather than finding out about it in a public forum where the damage to your company’s reputation will be more significant. Asking for their feedback in private also helps to build trust and mutual respect with your customers as this approach communicates that their perspectives truly matter to you.
A simple and effective tool for requesting and monitoring this type of feedback is a net promoter score (NPS). Ask your customers this question at regular intervals: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend us to a friend?” The current average of your customers’ responses to this question is your net promoter score (NPS) at any given time.
Here’s a quick guide to interpreting each person’s NPS response:
- 9-10 = Promoters (These people are extremely likely to recommend you to others.)
- 7-8 = Passives
- 1-6 = Detractors (These people are not likely to recommend you to others and may be actively encouraging people to avoid your company.)
As you ask customers to rate you on a scale of 1-10, be sure to give them an option to leave any comments about why they rated you as such.
Monitor what people are saying about your company publicly.
Run a Google search for your company’s name, and take an inventory of where and how your company is being mentioned on the internet. Here are some of the most influential public forums shaping people’s perceptions of today’s companies, products, and services:
- For companies selling products online: Amazon product ratings/reviews
- For companies selling services and products locally: Google ratings/reviews
- Companies seeking to attract top talent: Glassdoor.com
- Small businesses seeking referrals from other small businesses: Alignable.com
As you are assessing your company’s reputation on the internet, ensure you’re not excessively checking your ratings, reviews, etc. for the purpose of ego gratification. This habit cuts both ways as an obsession with the volatile opinions of others could cause your company to follow public perceptions rather than the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Approach customer complaints with gentleness and eagerness to improve where necessary.
You, your family, and your team could spend decades building goodwill with your stakeholders–pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into your venture–and have someone seek to damage your reputation on the internet without making a good-faith effort to resolve the conflict peacefully. Such a detractor couldn’t care less because he/she likely has no idea what it takes to build what you’ve built. When such people get offended, they turn vindictive and will stop at nothing to cause as much damage to your company’s reputation as possible.
Nevertheless, other customers have legitimate complaints that can be assets to your company if you’ll allow them to be. Be sure to respond to these complaints quickly. Don’t just view them as inconveniences. These are some of your greatest opportunities to represent the character of Jesus to those who engage with your company. If you will invite and remain open to negative criticism from your customers, you will recognize that the criticism is accompanied by one or more of the following opportunities:
- To present humble, Christ-like character with responses to the customer bathed in the spiritual fruit of gentleness
- To make your agreements more clear
- To compensate a customer for unfulfilled promises you’ve made to him/her
- To add another helpful service/product or a helpful feature to an existing service/product.
When viewed redemptively, negative criticism from your customers (and team members) is one of your greatest assets.
Request public reviews from happy customers.
Proverbs doesn’t say, “A name that doesn’t have any negative public criticism is worth more than gold.” It says “a good name is worth more than gold.” We want a good name, not merely one free and clear of any negative criticism. Our aim regarding the protection of our company’s reputation isn’t merely to do damage control of negative reviews. Our focus ought to be on ensuring that positive customer feedback is so numerous and ubiquitous that it drowns out the voice of the detractors in the minds of people considering doing business with us.
Encourage your happy and satisfied customers to leave reviews for your company, its products, and its services publicly to build the social proof necessary to show the world that your company has a “good name.” Typically, all you have to do is ask them to post a public review and provide some basic instructions on where and how to post the review.