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What do consumers think of your business? How about current and potential employees? Investors? Lenders? Clearly, your business reputation matters to a lot of different people.
A person’s reputation is a big deal. That’s why so many people have created songs, produced movies, and written books revolving around reputations.
Shouldn’t you be working to build up your business’s reputation, too?
How To Craft A Positive Business Reputation
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” according to famous businessman Warren Buffett.
If you want to build and protect a company reputation that packs a punch, get started with these four tips.
1. Go The Extra Mile For Your Customers And Employees
Do you go out of your way to exceed customer expectations? Your reputation may depend on it.
How you interact with those associated with your small business is reflected in your reputation. Is your business reliable, honest, and caring? Do you go above and beyond for your customers and employees?
According to new studies, one of the top ways you can go the extra mile for your customers is by personalizing their shopping experiences.
One report predicted that by 2020, the customer experience will be more important than price and product when it comes to setting your brand apart. And according to another source, this data is already starting to take effect. Forty-four percent of consumers said a personalized shopping experience would likely result in brand loyalty.
Going the extra mile for your customers by making sure their shopping experience is memorable isn’t just a recent trend, though. Treating customers as individuals has always been essential for business reputations. Who wants to talk to someone who is ushering them out the door? Some other ways you can show customers you care is by listening to complaints, rectifying problems, and establishing a loyalty program for small business.
If you currently go the extra mile for customers, don’t drop the ball. Otherwise, your customers could revolt. Being inconsistent is dangerous for business and your reputation, as I’ll get into with my fourth tip.
Having a great reputation among customers isn’t enough. You also need to be reputable among your employees and the general workforce. If you don’t have a good employer reputation, you could be jeopardizing your business.
When employers don’t treat their employees well, customers notice. Your customer service will go downhill. Sure, customers might like things such as your offerings and prices, but they might not think highly of your business if your customer service is subpar. Not to mention, disgruntled employees quickly become disengaged, which is bad news for your business bottom line.
Some ways you can improve your employer reputation are by refusing to micromanage, treating employees (or coworkers, as I like to call them) with respect, offering benefits that show you value their work, and listening to concerns. At my payroll and accounting software company, I like to thank my coworkers at the end of the day.
2. Ask Customers To Leave Reviews
Eighty-six percent of consumers read reviews. And, 57% of surveyed consumers said they would only use a business if it has four or more stars. Think about that statistic … if you have fewer than four stars, you could be missing out on 57% of possible consumers!
To boost your reputation, ask customers to leave reviews. Having business reviews not only legitimizes your business, but they can also brand you as a reputable company.
Your current customer base is essential for building up your reputation. When they’re happy, they can paint a very positive picture of your business. Capitalize on customer loyalty through reviews.
You might ask customers to review your business at the point of sale or by sending email follow-ups. To encourage participation, consider offering an incentive, such as a future purchase discount.
3. Respond To Negative Nancies Publicly And Privately
There will always be naysayers. You won’t be able to appease everyone, regardless of how spotless your reputation is. But, how you respond to negativity can say a lot about your business and help or hurt your reputation.
You may have dissatisfied customers or competitors who leave negative reviews. Failing to respond to negative reviews publicly can lead to lost business from consumers searching your company.
According to one source, 89% of consumers read business’s responses to reviews. Don’t miss out on your chance to redeem your business reputation!
When you respond to negative reviews, be humble, offer a solution (e.g., refund or discount), and—if it’s within your power—guarantee it won’t happen again. If the complaint is inaccurate, you could say something like, “I apologize for your frustration. There must have been a miscommunication because…”
Don’t issue a paragraph statement fighting the customer’s claim—this can make your business look bad.
Responding to customers publicly can prevent lost business from other consumers, but what about the individual leaving the negative review? I suggest going a step further and responding to the frustrated customer privately. If you have their contact information, call or email them for further information about the situation.
So, how can you monitor mentions on the web? Where should you be looking?
People might leave reviews on your small business website, Google, review websites, and social media. Scour these outlets regularly to monitor your mentions and issue a timely response.
4. Aim For Consistency
All businesses have a promise to their customers, even if they don’t put that promise in writing. Your promise is built on brand consistency. What can customers expect from your business, regardless of what day, season, or year it is?
Inconsistency leads to a broken business promise. And a broken promise leads to a dwindling reputation.
When it comes down to it, building your reputation revolves around delivering your business promises time and time again. To achieve that, you must aim for consistency.
As I mentioned earlier, you can’t give consumers the best customer experience one day and shortchange them the next. Your business cannot be Jekyll and Hyde.
To maintain a consistent reputation, be sure to hire top talent and train employees on business operations.
December 17, 2018 at 10:40AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs