Over the past year, there is one critical factor that I found every business consistently lacked management over. Every business needs to focus on their reputation this upcoming year. The internet is allowing every business to grow or succeed using reviews, social media, and reputation. Business need to use this to their advantage and take control of their reputation.
Reputation is the value or perception that people have of your business. This includes all information that people include in comments and reviews that people post about your business. This influences people’s creation of their perception for your business. If the first thing they read in negative then that is all they will remember when they think about your business.
Reputation is a simple competitive advantage over competitors!
In 2015, every business owner and manger needs to look at their reputation online and through word of mouth. I can’t stand when a business doesn’t know what people are saying about their business. It takes a 2.3 second Google search to find out what people think about you. This is what the majority of your customers do. Potential customers will search you because they want the opinions of peers. They trust their opinion and your success depends on what they think.
What are you doing to manage your reputation?
First thing you need to know: Every business and organization has a reputation whether you like it or not. You need to shape it into something that will benefit your business long-term.
There are two primary parts to managing a reputation. Firstly, nurture and support positive reviews of your business. Secondly, monitor and act on negative reviews.
Every business needs to create a system to support customers to post positive reviews about their business. This can be through social media or comment cards after handling customers. Simply asking your customers to give you reviews will give better results than doing nothing.
Once you have these positive reviews you need to share them so they stand out. You want to position positive reviews so they stand out to customers when they search your business online and on social media. This is vital to keep a positive image of your business. The smallest negative comment can ruin your reputation. You need to be constantly reviewing and building your reputation on a consistent bases.
Over the past year, I have created videos to do just this. These types of videos are an essential part of your reputation whether you make one yourself or hire someone to make one for your business. A video is the number one searched and viewed type of content. This is a simple way to get a positive review in-front of potential clients or customers.
Hopefully, you are building those positive reviews. While you do that you need to oversee the bad reviews. Assuming your have a good product or service you will eventually get a bad review. Quickly address these reviews in a positive manner. Try to absolve the situation and not make it worse. Work with that customer to fix the problem.
Example: If a customer has posted a review about bed bugs at your hotel you should address it quickly. Not by saying that customer is a liar, but by saying the matter has been addressed. Comment to that customers and other that you continuously monitoring this problem and share your bed bug monitoring program which includes…
Don’t harass that customer because you can possibly make that past customer into a future one. I have worked with many businesses that asked that customer to return to that restaurant or plumber and changed their opinion.
A more complicated situation occurs when the negative review is about an employee. This situation will differ from business to business because you need to create a process to fairly and legally address the situation. Investigate the matter at hand and try to resolve the issue. People occasionally conflict with each other and no one has done anything wrong. Try to negotiate and resolve the matter without extreme actions. I don’t want anyone to get fired because of a false review*
Over the next year you need to focus on reputation to build a larger customer following and competitive advantage. You can’t let something as important as your reputation to be left to developing itself. You need to monitor, manager, and promote your reputation. You need to let potential customers know that you have a great product or service, assuming you do. Create a system or process to promote your positive reviews and manage your negative reviews.
Legal and ethical note: do not create fake or false reviews created by yourself or your employees. All reviews must be from an honest customer and done by themselves. Do not post reviews manually from something they wrote. Speak to a lawyer if you have concerns or questions.
Your reputation is delicate so you need to be careful about how you manage it. Do what you can to build your reputation for your long-term success.