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User-driven reputation March 11, 2010

Posted by salla in Blogroll.
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We spent yesterday at a Tekes workshop talking about user-driven service innovations with the other research projects funded by Tekes service innovations program. As our title suggests, our project is a just a bit out of the program’s focus compared to the others, which are strictly doing research on service innovations. Nevertheless, we are aiming to improve competitiveness in the Finnish service sector by researching corporate reputation and ways to monitor and manage it.

But is the combination of reputation and user-driven innovations plausible? In fact, it makes a lot of sense. Our definition of reputation is discursive, that means reputation is a continuously developing set of beliefs, evaluations and expectations created by the public. These reputational discourses are further modified in communicative action – again mostly by the publics, based not only on direct experiences with the organization but also on the stories told by their peers.

Therefore reputation is inevitably user-driven, since it can be defined as the collective set of perceptions and beliefs a certain public is having on a certain organization. In our context, digital publicity, these reputational stories can easily be shared and also collected by the organization. Maybe the concrete innovation is actually using this information effectively to improve communications and other processes within the organization. This could create a continuous circle of small innovation, in turn leading to bigger scale service and product innovations.

I would go a far as saying successful reputation management is not possible without keeping the users in the center. Better than guessing is listening: the only way to know what your customers and other stakeholders want and think is to listen to them, and then aim to meet their expectations.

ps. Another interesting connection between services and digital publicity is the role of web-based service encounters when creating reputation. I hope we will have a chance to look deeper at this later on.

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