As an entrepreneur, it's up to you to make sure that your company has the best reputation possible. This sounds like an easy enough idea, but the actual execution of it is more complicated. Plus, the pressure is now higher than ever to avoid a poor brand image because everyone with a smartphone is able to instantly broadcast a negative opinion on social media and review sites.
A poor brand image can significantly hurt your ROI and growth potential. And this could happen as a result of poor customer experience or ineffective problem-solving for the clients. What’s worse? Unhappy customers will spread the word about your brand to others, and before you can do anything, your prospects, who are considering your product or service, might have already heard bad things about your company.
Counteracting this and creating the best possible reputation involves work on both your online business reputation and offline reputation. Based on our experience with clients, most business leaders in your shoes don’t know where to start. So to help you get started, we’ve come up with the 10 things that you can do to make sure that people think as highly as possible about your company.
1. Always put your best face forward
This means dressing well, always being professional, polite, and positive. Wherever you go, you represent your company and you never know who is going to be watching, so it’s best to always pretend that you are “on.” Obviously this doesn’t mean that you can’t go to the pharmacy in the middle of the night in your PJs for cold medicine if you’re sick. If you do, though, make sure that you do your best to be nice to the people you encounter along the way.
2. Keep your promises
If you say that you are going to do something, do it. Don’t back out at the last minute. If something does come up and it interferes with your promise, find someone who can fill in for you and who will do just as good a job as you would have done. The last thing you want to do is earn the reputation of being a flake.
3. Communicate a lot
Always keep people in the loop. Even if nothing has developed recently in your client’s project, send a quick email to let them know that you’re there for them. This way your clients and buyers won’t have to worry that you have forgotten about them. Don’t email every five minutes, obviously, but once every few days should be sufficient. Proper communication and expectation setting is the key to sustaining a good business relationship with your clients.
4. Make sure your website is awesome
Your clients want to find out more about you. By setting up a website for yourself and your company, you are taking the first steps toward creating your online reputation. Make sure the website is well designed, that it tells people about who you are, what you offer, and how people can contact you.
5. Use social media to your advantage
Set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn page, and if you think they will be helpful, Tumblr and Pinterest accounts. More importantly, make sure that people know that these pages and accounts exist. People tend to choose social media over other traditional methods like phone calls when they want to reach out to a company for questions or comments. Make these avenues available to them!
Want to improve your social media so that it can drive more sales? Read this how-to blog: Increase sales with social media
6. Don’t spam
This is particularly important if you have an email list (which you should). It’s tempting to send out emails about things as soon as they happen. But, all this does is annoy the people on your mailing list. Limit yourself, unless you have promised otherwise, to one email per week that you can use to keep your subscribers caught up on the goings-on within your company.
To help you improve your email marketing, read 13 Tips for effective email marketing.
7. Ask for feedback
Asking clients and customers what they think of you and your products is the best way to prove to them that you value their opinions. Encourage feedback, reviews, and even criticisms. You might even consider having a testimonials page on your website through which people can submit their feedback. Sure, they’re more likely to use Facebook or Twitter, but having the page available is still a good idea, especially if you’re a B2B business.
At Pronto, we use Simplesat to easily send our customers fun and engaging surveys asking them for feedback. This effective way of hearing how satisfied or unsatisfied customers are with our services has allowed us to improve what we are lacking so that we can consistently add value to our customers’ businesses.
8. Actually respond to that feedback
Thank people for kind words and praise. Work with people who lodge complaints or levy criticism. If someone complains about you or what you have to offer, ask yourself if that person is right. If yes, work hard to fix the problem about which they have complained. If you want to earn even more points, (politely) ask them for their opinions and suggestions for fixing the problem.
9. Address false rumors
Is someone spreading false rumors about you? Don’t just let these rumors sit and hope that nobody will notice them (or that they will die down eventually). Actively work to make sure that people know the rumors aren’t true. Find a way to do this in a positive way. You can prove a rumor false without dragging the rumor spreader through the mud (even though some mud-dragging might feel really good). By taking the high road, you paint yourself in an even better light.
10. Monitor your reputation
One of the reasons that someone’s reputation tanks is that they weren’t on the ball enough to respond to a problem when it happened. When you’re starting out, monitoring your reputation isn’t difficult. As you grow your business and gain popularity, monitoring becomes more time-intensive. If you can’t manage it in-house, hire a company to do it for you. It’s an expense worth investing in.
Time to polish your reputation
No one wants to buy from a brand that has bad reviews and complaints from existing customers, which is why going the extra mile to maintain and improve your brand reputation is so important for your business.
You can’t be perfect 100% of the time. You can, however, take steps to help other people believe that you are perfect 100% of the time. These tips will help you accomplish that goal.
If you don’t have enough time and resources to monitor your reputation, Pronto could be the partner you’ve been looking for. We offer a fully managed digital marketing service. Our website service can help you establish an awesome website that can serve as the front gate for your customers to find you. We also offer other "360 services" to help you manage various aspects of digital marketing to drive more leads to your business.
Get in touch with one of our experts to find the best solution for your business.
About the Author
Erin Steiner is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon, where, in addition to the writing she does for her clients, she also maintains a popular personal blog and vlog. You can follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/snarke.