How to Manage Your Business’s Reputation
Managing your business’s reputation is more than managing your brand. Your brand is the business’s identity—what it sells, how its products and services are useful, what issues it plans on solving for people and how, etc. Your business’s reputation is a constantly shifting perception by your audience and your local community.
If you own a business with a physical location, its reputation in the community is crucial to its existence. For Internet-based businesses, reputation matters even more. Branding is considered a permanent label and identity for your business and is difficult to change, even using some of the best and most experienced advertising firms, but reputation can change quickly, and if managed correctly, you can shift your company’s reputation from bad to good quickly and maintain a good reputation longer.
The first step to managing a reputation is to build an online apparatus for your business to take better control of what your target audience reads about your business online. If you have no web presence or a very limited one, it’s tough to draw new customers and engage with customers who aren’t currently in your physical store. Keep an eye on online reviews. There are many places where customers can read reviews by other customers. Find out which app or website is sending you the most customers and read the reviews. You might not like what you find, but you can at least fix mistakes you didn’t know you were making based on what customers are saying. These reviews can give you a good understanding of what you’re doing well and what you need to work on. You should absolutely respond to negative reviews in public forums by taking ownership of the mistake and offering to correct it. However, avoid getting into an argument online. If the reviewer wants to argue, take extra care to be respectful and try to send them a private message or ask to take it offline. Turning nasty reviews into good ones goes a long ways in managing your reputation.
Get involved in your community by joining professional organizations or clubs. The more local business owners that know you and your business, the more they can recommend you to prospective clients or at least speak positively about your business in the community. Apply for business awards if you can, give public lectures, be a panelist. The more you can engage with your community, the more free advertising you gain as people start to associate your name and face with your business and its quality products and services.
Never miss an opportunity to provide great service. Of course you’re always trying to provide all customers with the best customer service possible. You already know that this is an excellent way to build a brand and establish your business as a solution to your customers’ problems. Consistently excellent customer service and products has an enormous impact on a business’s reputation. Think of all clients as potential reviewers. Every interaction with them is a chance to build your reputation and increase its positivity. Make the most of the opportunity to sell your business and your brand to as many of your clients’ friends, associates, and others who might value your clients’ opinions as possible.
Above all, be patient. There will always be knuckleheads online slamming your service, especially if your business is a restaurant or a company that profits off of public foot traffic. But if you consistently provide excellent services and products, people will think of your business as the place they want to go for their needs.