During the crisis periods, administrators and economists lean themselves over on related aspects of income (satisfaction of the customer and maintenance of the market) and on those who optimize the process and the strategy of the businesses: the criteria of performance management and investments priorization. From the sociological point of view, however, the concern is in taking the stakeholders’ pulse.
Competition is hard and, during the crisis, has a very larger weight. The companies, aware of the necessity to keep the quality have, many times, to swim against the tide to adapt themselves to the market disturbances that affect the quality of supplier deliveries.
It is just at this moment when little can be done to interfere in external aspects of the company, and competition is more intransigent that it is vital to keep or even improve the quality of the service, at the same time as selling prices are adapted to the market reality. Apparently a paradox, since the margin and the investment in resources are reduced. However, the company must remain efficient to surpass the crisis and to be ready to attend the demand at the moment of the economic recovery.
For this, it is important to deeply analyze the sources of the value of your business, as well as the risks, taking into account the human being dimension of both among collaborators and others stakeholders, mapping everything that this dimension can assure.
The knowledge of the stakeholders perceptions and mainly of the employees' is vital in times of “war”: companies must defend themselves (tactically) while, simultaneously, be prepared to the recovery (strategically). For this purpose, the company must count on a good image among stakeholders that, in the market, will act as a cushion to eventual critics, as well as among employees, whose satisfaction with the relation kept with the company will guarantee the necessary fuel to cross the crisis.
In times of economic crisis, the administration usually opts by a war tactics, adopting the minimum actions that preserve the strategy of long term. For this reason, they hesitate in investing in instruments that draw their image and reputation among stakeholders, without perceiving that a study like this allows elaborating a complete and complex plan, beyond identifying those factors that are determinants for the perception of customers (cost, time, quality, communication and son on).
The systemic vision presumes that indicators are defined from the intersection between the perception of stakeholders, the satisfaction of the customer and the performance of the company. In crisis, an image and reputation also allows to define the important indicators, identifying the main problems of the company with its thresholds accepted and also validated by the employees.
The importance of the human being dimension, or wars never won only with generals.
It is always good to remember that implementation tactics of changes at the time of crisis cannot be taken to a safe port without the employees' engagement. It is necessary to involve all the company. Each individual suffers the crisis in different ways, but all want, at a moment like this, to defend their work.
In the research work that bases the information system on image and reputation, the word-key is stakeholders’ confidence: current and future customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers, banks and all other interested parties.
It is important to establish a reliable relation to calm and get the engagement of all. The period of crisis is difficult for all. It is necessary to demonstrate to everyone that there is a pilot in the cabin, and that he knows to where he is going.
Cristina Panella is a Senior Associated at BMI Blue Management Institute. She has a Doctor Degree in Sociology from Ecole des Hautes Estudes en Science Sociales (France), a Master Degree in Research Formation from E.H.E.S.S.(France), a Master Degree in Social Anthtopology from Université René Descartes – Sorbonne (France). She has also a Business Management Communication Specialization from University of Florida (USA) and Graduation in Social Science from PUC- SP. She worked at Datafolha, implementing the research areas Datafone and DataGeo. She has also worked in the Research, Planning and Marketing at SEBRAE and was Associated to CDN Estudos e Pesquisa Ltda. She was a professor at FAAP and Centro Universitário Belas Artes. She is an invited- professor at Escola de Comunicação e Artes of USP. She is an ABERJE’s columnist. She is also a member of ESOMAR (World Association for Social, Opinion and Market Research).