Your business is only as good as prospects, customers and clients perceive it to be. Even if you’re the best at what you do or what you sell, the perceptions within your business sphere shape the opinions of those who populate that sphere.

That’s why maintaining your business credibility and a solid reputation is so critical to short- and long-term success.

Here are seven steps you can take to maintain your company’s credibility, whether you run a small manufacturing company, an online store, or a combination of online and real-world businesses.

1. Track your reputation using the Internet.  Track your online reputation. You can’t address a reputation problem if you don’t know it’s there! Websites like Yelp®, Angieslist® and eBay®, and retailers like Amazon® and Appworld® post consumer reviews. Track what buyers post about your business and products, and write a response explaining the company position. Don’t ignore negative feedback. Respond!

A single, ex-employee can post negative feedback on websites and blogs that may cost your company thousands in sales, and loss of consumer goodwill. Routinely conduct searches of your website using Google®, Yahoo® and Bing® – the big three search engines – and address any negative reviews or publicity – FAST.

2. Ask for customer feedback. If you own a website, provide visitors with a feedback module and ask for suggestions to improve the on-site experience.  At your brick-and-mortar location, make survey forms readily available. Post-sale customer satisfaction surveys often provide invaluable information that can be used to refine and improve service and product delivery, both online and on Main Street.

Then, display positive client and customer feedback on your website to build company credibility. Address negative feedback by offering refunds, replacements, a no-hassle money-back guarantee, and other consumer benefits that turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer who tells others about your great customer care.

3. Use social media. Use social media to provide good information to demonstrate authority, generosity and good corporate citizenship. Websites like Facebook®, LinkedIn®, Twitter® and other networking sites offer an opportunity to build company credibility. Use these sites to post good, informational content, as well as incentives like coupons and discounts. Don’t just sell your company. Too much sales copy isn’t going to be read, even by your most dedicated contacts.

Provide useful, helpful, actionable information that improves the customer experience and demonstrates your business expertise. Answer questions on sites like LinkedIn and Yahoo. These sites allow you to link your answers to questions, posed by other users, back to your website, driving more traffic, which, in turn, may generate more contacts with people interested in your products or services.

4. Help. Your business can help its service region in lots of ways. Organize a health fair or a job fair. Provide free consultations to the public. Or free eye exams. Or free anything. Teach a free adult education class.

Demonstrate your corporate values through action.  Donate to local charities. Organize the staff to pick up litter for a day. You and your team have knowledge and facilities that can be used by local communities. Think of ways to offer and use this knowledge, space and equipment to help others within your service region.

5. Reach out. Extend the hand of corporate friendship through service organizations like the Lions® or Rotary®. These organizations meet regularly to develop new ways to help their communities. What can your company, and your team, bring to the table?

6. Meet local business officials. Whether you’re a new business or have recently relocated, meet with local officials in business development groups. Many communities and regions have organizations that assist companies to improve the business climate in the area.

Determine how these agencies can help your business, but more than that, determine how your company can help other business owners expand within your region. It’s a more targeted form of giving, but one that other business owners appreciate, and one that clearly shows your values and the values of your business.

7. Keep detailed records. When you meet a new contact, get a business card and add that contact information to your contacts file. Record name, contact information and a short summary of the context of your meeting, i.e. “met at April Chamber of Commerce meeting”, or, “business lunch to discuss upcoming book sale.”

As you expand your circle of business connections, you build company credibility as a business that’s engaged in the well-being of others – including other businesses.

Whether you sell products or services, directly to customers or to other businesses, your company’s reputation is an invaluable asset, and something to be protected and enhanced through online and offline initiatives that show your company truly cares.

Credibility counts.

 

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