As more and more people use smartphones and digital services, IT companies have become embedded parts of our lives. We order our food and entertainment through their services. We use their services when we need transportation options. We use their software when we socialize with friends. Even when we don’t like a company’s reputation, we still use their services because we rely heavily upon them.
Over time, however, negative reputations do have an impact on a business which is why reputation management providers are on the rise. For example, reputation management in Maryland has seen a large increase in business due to the turbulent nature of that state. When this occurs, companies must make big changes in their policies and protocols to turn negative assumptions around.
When Apple refused to comply with federal authorities after the San Bernadino shooting it faced criticism from Donald Trump and other members of the public who believed that information should be obtained from private devices during federal investigations, especially ones that are related to issues of homeland security.
Although Apple executives cite the legal right to privacy as the reason behind not opening a back door to the iPhone, critics claim that Apple is more concerned with their marketability and reputation than they are with a moral high ground.
Apple faces other reputation damaging scenarios. Tech journalists have grown weary of Apple releases and have found the signature events dull. Without new and innovative products, Apple runs the risk of losing market share to younger companies like Google. In fact, the latest Harris Poll’s Reputation Ranking places Apple second to Amazon in the eyes of the general public, and barely ahead of Google.
Between a lack of innovative product and questionable privacy practices, Apple’s reputation is sinking. Apple isn’t alone.
Facebook fell short of an “Excellent” rating in the poll, receiving a “Very Good” ranking. Falling short of excellence is not what Facebook would expect, especially since the company has carefully crafted a growth and acquisition strategy that increases their products and services offerings. Facebook has acquired Instagram and Oculus, but the company’s low-ranking suggests that products and services might not be enough to thrust a company into the upper levels of reputation credibility.
How is reputation measured? The Harris Poll asks respondents to consider “Emotional Appeal, Financial Performance, Products and Services, Social Responsibility, Vision and Leadership, and Workplace Environment.”
It makes sense that not all companies have a great reputation within some demographics. It is difficult to please consumers, investors and employees since each has a different vested interest in the company. Still, when it comes to issues like privacy, security and regulations, every member of society has a vested interest. Companies that come up short in any of these three categories face serious reputation damage unless they prepare for big changes in regulations and public perceptions.
Consumers likely assign security and privacy concerns under the heading of social responsibility. However, while some consumers might find it socially responsible for Apple and Facebook to comply with federal requests for information, other respondents might think the exact opposite. Apple seems to be relying on the latter.