Every business is defined by its reputation, and so developing your business’s reputation, perhaps by working closely with a reputation management agency, should be at the forefront of your mind. A good reputation means that current customers will remain loyal, but they will also refer you to their friends and family. So, how do you nurture your business’s reputation?
The most obvious answer to this is to provide quality goods or services. People want to feel that they are getting good value for their money, and so it is important that you go the extra mile to provide it. It can take years to build a good reputation, and only minutes to destroy it. To help guide you through the minefield of building a positive and glowing business reputation, here are 3 tips:
- Be nice
Being nice to people is one way to build a good reputation. It sounds very simplistic but being nice is essential in business and customer care. When you meet customers, look them in the eye and smile. People can tell if you are authentic or not. This doesn’t mean be fake, rather just be approachable. Nonverbal communication is as important as the words that you say, and how you carry yourself regarding your posture and the gestures that you use can help to put people at ease and can influence their behavior to you.
How you communicate with people is important in building trust and developing business relationships. If your business is not client-faced, be mindful of how your written communications can be construed. Email is such a quick form of communication that sometimes send is pressed before perhaps it ought to have been. Keep messages concise and formatted so that they are easy to read. Use bullet points and avoid lengthy paragraphs of text, and always proofread them.
People like to deal with people rather than faceless businesses, so try to schedule regular telephone calls with business contacts who you usually email. This makes you more than an email address and helps to forge lasting business relationships.
Being nice is not exclusively just for customers, apply the same manners and tone with everyone that you come into contact with – colleagues and suppliers. If you are pleasant to deal with, you will find that you can get the best out of employees and you will be able to negotiate better deals. It’s a win-win business situation.
- Manage your image
First impressions count for a lot; therefore, you need to make sure that you make the first impression the one that you intended. You will be judged on how you appear, in person and your business. When you are customer facing, make sure that you look the part and dress appropriately for the occasion. Your clothes need to project an image that is suitable for the circumstance. Similarly, if you are visiting clients on site, make sure that your vehicle is clean and organized.
Often the first point of contact a customer has with your business is through an online search for products or services that you offer. If your website is littered with spelling mistakes and refers to out of date promotions, you are not giving the visitor to your site the best first impression.
If you have social media profiles and post regularly, you need to ensure that your posts are in keeping with your brand and are not likely to offend. Keep your professional social media platforms separate to your personal ones, and make sure that your profiles are set so that only real-life friends can view them.
Think about how your customers perceive your business. Are you doing all that you can to develop the right image? For example, if you are often unable to take business calls during the working day, it can be wise to hire an answering service to take your calls. This way, you will always be able to have your business calls answered by a real person which makes your business more accessible and professional. Here’s some useful info about how an answering service can help your business.
- Be professional
To develop your business reputation, you must deliver what you promise to customers, suppliers and employees. You need to be able to fulfil the obligations that you have agreed to. Have the confidence to turn down jobs if you know that they are beyond your remit or you don’t have capacity to complete the work. Honesty will be rewarded by respect. You know the classic business mantra ‘under promise and over deliver’.
It would be naïve to suggest that you will always be able to provide a hit rate of 100% for customer satisfaction, but often, errors are forgiven if you react positively and rectify any mistakes. This is especially relevant when dealing with negative online reviews. The temptation may be to give the reviewer a few home truths, but this will only damage your reputation; instead acknowledge their feedback, thank them for raising the issue and state that you will investigate the specific issue. You can then return to the conversation providing a resolution. It’s important not to:
- Get defensive
- Over apologize
- React impulsively
- Respond without knowing the facts
Even negative feedback can be turned into a positive if you react professionally and seek a solution to the issue. Negative feedback can also be used to fuel improvement in your company processes and procedures and raise an issue that you hadn’t previously recognized.
Nurturing and developing your business reputation are critical to the longevity of your business’s success. It’s not something that you can pay money to shape, but by being aware of how your customers and clients perceive you and your business, you will be able to build upon it and reap the rewards. Trust is not bought, its earned, and by providing quality goods and services that your customers value in a way that makes them feel good, your reputation and industry credibility will rocket.