Whether you’re the CEO of a global corporation or the owner of a mom-and-pop store in town, much of the success of your business is built on your professional reputation.

A good, solid reputation builds confidence in prospects, keeps existing clients in place and can deliver business growth both short- and long-term.

Managing your business’ reputation is an on-going process as new clients are added, new products and services are delivered, and changes in technology enable anyone to build, or tear down, your professional reputation. And quickly.

The Internet delivers reviews of businesses. Websites such as Amazon®, Angie’s List®, and eBay® allow consumers to post reviews of your business and the products or services you deliver, and it can only take one bad review from one dissatisfied customer to have a negative impact on your company’s reputation and your bottom line.  Your business may sell terrific products or deliver high-quality services, and still have a poor reputation around town and around the world.

Here are some things you can do to help your business reputation sparkle on the Internet and on Main Street.

1. Make it all better. If an unhappy customer or client leaves negative feedback on a reviewing site, that negative review can spread quickly across the Internet.

If a client or customer has a problem, you have a problem – and one that needs to be fixed fast – before that unhappy buyer starts spreading negative word of mouth (WOM) around town, and around the world.

Even if you lose money by satisfying your unhappy customer, someone who has a problem fixed will probably tell others about your company’s wonderful customer service, turning a negative experience into a positive experience – and creating another salesperson for your company – a salesperson who uses positive WOM to improve your business reputation.

2. Offer a no-hassle, money-back guarantee. Put it in writing and highlight it in your store or on your website. Then honor that guarantee. Never argue. Don’t debate. If customers or clients want a refund, guarantee they get one. This: (1) builds trust among first-time buyers; and (2) keeps regular clients and customers in place because they will purchase with confidence.

3. Use client testimonials. Ask satisfied clients to write a short paragraph about their experiences with your business. Use these positive reviews in print marketing and online to increase the confidence level of potential consumers.

4. Find out what they’re saying about your business – and about you! Conduct a search of yourself using Google®, Bing™ and Yahoo® to see what kind of reputation you have in your business sphere. If you find a negative review, contact the poster and try to fix the problem. That one step can work wonders in improving a poor business reputation.

Again, WOM advertising is the best advertising a business can have, such as one friend or co-worker recommending your business to another. The trust factor is built in from the start because the referral comes from a trusted source.

Don’t ignore poor product reviews. On the Internet, that information may be up for years.

5. Sign up with social networks. Sites like LinkedIn®, Facebook® and other social networks provide an opportunity to greet prospects and customers up-close and personal.

As a business owner, create social media pages for yourself, the businessperson, and create a social media page for your company.

Use these pages to offer incentives to visit your store or website – coupons, free downloads, a free consultation – encourage business engagement by offering something for nothing.

However, if your social media pages are nothing but “BUY! BUY! BUY!” your online prospects will quickly stop following you, and “Liking” you, or your company.

Use these social media sites to deliver good, solid information, including product reviews from other sites, client recommendations, and useful tips to help prospects and customers live their lives or run their businesses more efficiently.

6. Get involved with your community. Get involved with your service region by sponsoring a local sports team, attending community fairs and other events, donating to local charities, and reaching out to prospects through local media, like your regional newspaper or cable TV outlet.

7. Join local service organizations and advertise your membership in the local Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, Lions Club, and other professional and service organizations. Develop and maintain a quality personal reputation, and the reputation of your business benefits as well.

8. Sign up with the Better Business Bureau®. Your membership demonstrates your commitment to quality customer care and good corporate citizenship. If you receive alerts from the BBB, get on the phone to fix the problem – TODAY!

9. Remember, prospects see you online. Pictures of you probably appear on your website, social media sites, professional industry sites and other places. That picture of you making a goofy face at your office holiday party says a lot about you – and it can say it for a long time. Today reputation management is always thinking about how others will see you and your company in the years ahead. It may be funny to your family, but clients see that goofy face, too.

10. Elevate reputation management to the top tier of business management.  It’s not something to address only when problems arise. Reputation management should be a part of everything from how your business phones are answered, to how quickly problems are resolved.

You and your business are only as good as the public thinks you are. Show them why you should be their company, store, restaurant or other business of choice.

 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.