When you’re trying to attract new customers and build your business, nothing is more important than your company’s reputation. That’s because your brand reputation is the most powerful leverage you have in business.
In our fast-paced world, it seems like one misstep can destroy a business almost before anyone notices it’s happening. Some entrepreneurs seem to think that if they just ignore the online sphere, they won’t be wounded by the rapid turnaround of public opinion.
But when a business’s reputation is on the line, the best defense is a good offense. Your reputation is a combination of what your business does and what people say about you. You need to make sure that they’re saying the right things, and the only way to do that is to make sure you’re doing the right things.
Why is a company’s reputation important?
A company’s reputation helps to attract and retain customers. People’s experiences with a business, as well as how others perceive those interactions, play a huge role in building that business’s reputation. A good reputation isn’t just a pride point for your company — it’s necessary for long-term survival.
A great product or service may pique interest, but a great reputation can help you stand out from the crowd. It may even be the factor that sways customers to purchase from you instead of your competitors.
Conversely, if people have a negative perception of your business, they’re unlikely to purchase from you. And they may not purchase from you again if they’ve had a previous bad experience with your company.
They may even share negative feedback and reviews, pushing away other prospective customers. And if you have no reputation at all, people may never hear of your company in the first place, limiting your customer pool and potential longevity.
A good reputation affords your company several benefits. For one, it gives you a competitive edge, and it attracts supporters and brand advocates. A positive business reputation also creates opportunities for growth and expansion, as people and other companies are more willing to work with brands they trust and admire.
A reputation management service can help you build a positive reputation, repair a damaged one, or maintain the good feelings you’ve already built. Check out our picks for the best reputation management services in 2023.
What factors affect your company’s reputation?
These three factors have the biggest impacts on your company’s reputation:
- Your company’s reviews: Consumers like to do their research before making a purchase, and reviews are an easy way to get a snapshot of a business. People can go on a variety of review sites and social media to share their experiences with your company. Reading these reviews gives you great insight into how people perceive your business, what is working well and how you can improve. [Read Related Article: 3 Ways to Get Good Customer Reviews]
- Your response to both positive and negative reviews: How you respond to your reviews is equally as important as the reviews themselves. Interacting with people who leave positive reviews shows that your brand appreciates their loyal customers. When faced with negative reviews, offering great customer service shows that you care about making things right — something that can potentially change the minds of non-supporters.
- Your online presence: Your presence should be consistent across your website, review sites and social media — anywhere you communicate with your customers. Respond to customers on social accounts, keep your online presence updated, and maintain a consistent brand voice. Potential customers will recognize your efforts and be more likely to engage with your business.
Examples of good company reputations
These are a few examples of companies that have built great brand reputations:
- HubSpot: The software platform works to understand their clients’ experiences, listening to their needs and coming up with actionable solutions to any issues that arise. HubSpot’s review sites are filled with positive comments about their customer support service.
- Shopify: The e-commerce platform has built a reputation as a one-stop shop for website maintenance that provides top-notch technical support. Shopify also proudly displays real customer testimonials on their website.
- JustFab: JustFab excels at providing a unique, tailored customer experience in which users take a brief style quiz that personalizes the items that appear in the online shop. This user experience yields many positive reviews.
How can you build and maintain a strong company reputation?
Here are seven easy things you can do to keep your business’s reputation strong, positive and healthy.
1. Keep your promises.
If your business makes a promise, the world needs to end before you break it. If you say you ship within 24 hours, you ship within 24 hours. If you say that you offer no-questions-asked returns, don’t ask any questions.
You also need to remember that not all promises are explicit. The simple buyer transaction is a promise, and the customer believes that they will receive the product or services that they purchased in a timely fashion.
They also believe that what they bought is worth what they paid for it. If you’re not keeping this most important promise, your reputation will suffer.
2. Reward customers for positive interactions.
“The customer is always right” is a nice idea about how businesses should treat customers. It’s also wrong. Companies that follow this saying to the letter can end up spending their resources trying to please their most irate, least rational and least devoted customers.
What if, instead, salespeople were empowered to reward customers who are a pleasure to work with? What if, at the end of a transaction, a customer heard, “It was such a delight to assist you today that I’ve been authorized to give you an extra 5 percent discount.”
How would that change your conversation with the customer for the better? How do you think that person would talk about your business in public?
3. Do more than expected.
Another phrase that gets tossed around a lot in customer service is to do more than is expected, but what does this actually mean?
Many companies try to include some unexpected service at no cost — for example, Goulet Pens always ships its orders, no matter how big or small, with a tiny Tootsie Pop. But the easiest way to approach this tip is to offer customers what they need before they ask for it.
For example, if a customer calls because they are frustrated that the product they purchased doesn’t work, don’t wait for them to demand a return. Instead, offer to exchange it for them.
If they reveal that their service was unsatisfactory, offer to make it right before they have to tell you that it’s what they need. It’s no secret that great customer service is the best marketing tool for the money.
4. Be consistent.
In all of the areas and platforms where your company interacts, be consistent and be yourself. If you try to create an alternate persona, it will eventually crack, and people will be frustrated that you were cold, dismissive or rude in a different environment.
When you represent your company, make sure you’re doing so in a way that is reasonable and approachable.
One of the best ways to build your company’s reputation is to display customer testimonials on your website and social media channels. Testimonials provide social proof for your company, and make it easier for prospective customers to do business with you.
5. Engage your audience.
In the modern market, where there are so many channels competing for customer attention, you aren’t going to build your audience by waiting for customers to come to you. You need to find your customers wherever they hang out.
Whatever you do, there’s an internet forum, page or Facebook Group dedicated to it. If you put yourself into that environment and work to become an authentic expert and resource, you will grow your audience organically.
>> Learn More: How to Engage Your Audience on Social Media
6. Apologize when you make mistakes.
No company is perfect. At some point, your company will make a mistake. You might say something insensitive or react poorly to a review, or encounter a problem down a supply chain that causes products to be delivered late.
What sets good companies apart from the bad ones is how the companies handle the issues when they arise. Just saying, “I’m sorry,” isn’t enough. Apologies can’t be rushed, hurried or awkwardly handled.
7. Take control of your reputation.
If you notice one thing as you read through these tips, make sure it’s this: You are in control of your own reputation. At no point should you feel like your business only has a good reputation when it’s perfect or when it bribes all of its customers into posting good reviews on Yelp.
A business that commits to its goals, lives its mission and keeps its promises will have a good reputation. Take control of your reputation by managing the factors that would give you a bad reputation — the rest will take care of itself.
Sean Peek contributed to the reporting and writing of this article.