Before the recent article in the New York Times, and the many accounts since that have come out, Amazon was perceived by the U.S. general public as the most reputable company in the United States. The U.S. general public’s perceptions of Amazon’s workplace have been formed largely through interactions with its excellent customer service, admiration of Amazon’s CEO, and overwhelmingly positive press reports. This year, Amazon not only achieved the top spot as America’s most reputable company in Reputation Institute’s annual survey, but also emerged as America’s most reputable retailer. So, how do we make sense of this? And what’s at stake for Amazon?
Reputations change over time and due to events. For that reason, Amazon has a lot at stake. Top of mind for many right now is the fact that Amazon has been called into question for its workplace conditions and practices by some of its employees. You might wonder, what’s at risk? Will Amazon’s reputation take a hit? Of course, it depends on how Amazon handles both its tactical crisis communications and strategic workplace issues, and only time and surveys of public perceptions will tell us.
As a most reputable company, Amazon benefits from what we call a “reputational buffer”, a buffer that gives it disproportionate benefit of the doubt and willingness to trust from the general population than most other firms. However, a strong reputation can also be a double-edged sword and, once violated, can result in disproportionate, irreparable, long-term reputational damage. Given the recent media coverage, we’ll have to see how far their reputational buffer takes them.
The ever-changing landscape of corporate reputation is why Reputation Institute has begun to continuously measure companies. In early August, we launched our new global Reputation Tracker, starting in the U.S. As part of that new service, we’re continuously tracking the reputations of the 10 most reputable companies in the U.S., which includes Amazon. Now, we’ll not only have our annual surveys, which are the largest surveys of corporate reputation – we’ll also have the data from our continuous measurement of the most reputable companies. Those companies who sign on to our new service will be able to see that data, their own data, as well as data on their competitors, to assist in proactive reputation management and reactive crisis management, like faced by Amazon.
Find out more HERE.
Managing Director, US & Canada