In business today, to remain competitive, reputation is everything. The best and most successful businesses have outstanding reputations that make them highly desirable as a customer and as an employee. So how can you grow your own business’s reputation? We’ll go over five keys for how to do just that.
1. Impress New Customers
When you get a new customer or client, the best thing you can do for your business’s reputation is to be as welcoming and helpful as possible, providing service above and beyond what they might expect. For example, ask the customer what they are looking for and walk them through their various options. Do not push for a sale or contract, but rather inform the customer so they can make their own decisions. They will like and respect that. Showcase your knowledge and professionalism so they will see your business as credible. Your ultimate goal is to have them come back and spread the word to their friends and acquaintances about their good experience with your company.
2. Continue To Satisfy Old Customers
One huge mistake a lot of companies make is focusing more on drawing in new customers rather than focusing on your reputation with existing customers. This is a mistake because it’s much easier (and less expensive) to retain a customer than it is to attract a new one, and existing loyal customers are more likely to spread the word about how much they love doing business with your company. Don’t just engage with new customers on a personal level and ignore them once you’ve made the sale. Continue to provide your best service and forge a personal relationship with your best clients, and they will respond with loyalty. You can do this by communicating with them frequently (including but not limited to event notifications, special offers, follow-ups and cards or notes) and always doing what you say you will do.
3. Own Up to Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, from the newest employee to the CEO. A major factor in growing your business’s reputation is how you handle mistakes when they occur, because they will. There are a number of things you should do that will benefit your business in the long run when a mistake has been made, whether by you or someone you manage. The first and foremost is to always, always, always admit the mistake and apologize sincerely. Do what you can to please the customer. Never try and deflect blame or get angry or defensive. This is unprofessional and will turn off customers, harming your reputation.
4. Engage With Your Community
One of the best ways to increase your business’s reputation is to be a part of the real-world community you are in. Donate items or money to local events, or have your staff volunteer. Sponsoring local organizations, particularly charitable ones, makes your business look good in the public eye and will likely reward you with a good reputation with your community. Online, you want to be responsive and engage with your customers, replying when they post a comment, having meaningful conversations and offering quality assistance or helpful content.
5. Take Feedback Seriously
Being engaged in protecting and growing your business and its reputation involves taking any feedback you receive seriously. This involves approaching it with an open mind and being willing to make changes based on what you hear. It will also please your customers as they will feel as though you have listened to them. Feedback can come from offhand comments from customers or clients, online reviews and answers to surveys you send out. Even extremely negative, nonconstructive feedback can be helpful, as there is often a kernel of truth or something you can glean from the situation that you and your staff can improve upon next time. You can even use text analytics techniques to quantify feedback you receive to look for patterns that provide even better data.
Ignoring your business’s reputation is very risky, and almost assuredly will land you in hot water at some point and possibly force you out of business if you aren’t paying attention to how customers and the general public perceive you. Watch for any warning signs of a poor reputation, such as negative reviews, negative media coverage, negative customer statements and declining business and sales while improving in every way you can, and you’ll be in good shape.