A Guide to Successful Business Reputation Management

Written by Newspaper Humor Columnist & Social Media Expert

June 6, 2024
A Guide to Successful Business Reputation Management

You spend years building up your business' reputation, and you or your disgruntled customers can tear it down in a matter of moments. The Internet is a stage where people voice their thoughts and feelings about companies, good and bad.

That means your company's reputation can be influenced by anyone with an opinion and a keyboard. Whether you're a small startup that's less than a year old, or you run a medium-sized enterprise that has been around for decades, business reputation management is an important part of your success.

Think of reputation management like tending to a garden: neglect it, and weeds will grow, and no good will come out of it. But nurture it and keep the weeds out, and you'll reap a bountiful harvest.

Your business'' reputation isn't just about what you do, it's about how others perceive it. In fact, their perceptions can be more powerful than your actions. Positive perceptions can attract new customers, keep existing ones, and help you grow.

But negative perceptions — whether true and earned or not — can have the opposite effect, driving your customers away and tarnishing your brand's image. Even people who post lies and negative experiences on social media can hurt your company's reputation.

We'll look at the essence of successful business reputation management. What it entails, why it's indispensable, and the dangers of neglecting it. We'll also give you a strategic blueprint of the steps to strengthen your reputation and ensure your success.

What is Business Reputation Management?

Business reputation management is where you influence and control how people perceive your organization. This is similar to personal branding, where you influence and control how people perceive you.

Reputation management involves keeping track of what people say about you and taking steps to ensure that the perception of your business remains positive. These can include managing online reviews, responding to customer feedback, and engaging with customers on social media.

Of course, you manage your reputation by how you actually do your work and provide customer service. This article assumes that you are good at your job, that you do provide great value to your customers, and treat them all well.

But reputation management goes beyond just providing a good product or service. It includes the entire customer experience, from the time they walk into your store or visit your website all the way through to the post-purchase support.



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Why is Business Reputation Management Important?

Why is Business Reputation Management Important

Trust is the currency of the digital age. After all, we buy things sight unseen online, hoping that the product we ordered will match the photos and descriptions we read. So the trust people have in your organization is paramount.

They show up to your restaurant based on your reputation, they order your products based on your reputation, and they spend their money on you based on your reputation. And if you meet or violate that trust, they'll tell the world where both good and bad news can spread in minutes.

If you develop a reputation for outstanding service and good value, people will come to you and your business will prosper. But if you develop a reputation for poor customer service, poor quality, and poor value, your customers will go somewhere else, and your business will fail.

A single bad review or social media post can go viral and damage your reputation overnight, which can lead to lost customers and decreased revenue. You can recover from it, but repairing a damaged reputation can be challenging and costly, not to mention it can take months to rebuild trust.

Your Reputation Will Let You Weather a Crisis

Crisis management is about navigating tough situations that threaten your reputation and success. These can be anything from product recalls and safety concerns to public relations disasters and social media controversies.

You need to have a plan in place that will tell you how to handle these tough situations quickly and effectively.

It also helps that you already have your communication channels in place and that you use them regularly. This will help you respond quickly when a crisis or emergency actually does arise.

This could be issuing a public statement, publishing a press release, posting an apology/explanation video, or responding publicly to dozens or hundreds of complaints.

You also need to take quick and decisive action to solve the problem. It could be recalling a defective product, issuing refunds, or implementing new safety measures. You also need to make these actions public so people can see that you're taking action.

Finally, be sure to monitor the fallout from the crisis. Monitor your social media (more on that in a minute) and your news outlets. Keep an eye out for mentions of your brand, and respond to any questions or concerns.

Years ago, I worked in crisis communication for a government health agency in the United States. We were called on to deal with any public health crisis at any scale, whether it was in a small town or would affect the entire state.

My staff and I treated every small incident like it was a large emergency. We had a plan in place, and we executed it with every emergency. That way, when we finally did have large state-wide emergencies, we didn't have to do anything new; we already knew what to do.

Remember, responding to a crisis is just like responding to any other incoming issue. The only difference is there is more at stake, and you have to move faster. But if you already have your communication strategy in place, you know what you have to do.

Areas Where You Can Practice Business Reputation Management

Reputation management is more than just sending out a few tweets or TikTok videos. And it's not a load you have to carry on your own. There are a few ways you can improve your reputation by letting others do the work.

1. Employee Advocacy

Your employees are your brand ambassadors. Their actions can have a bigger impact on your reputation than the decisions you make in the boardroom. Empower them to speak positively about your company online and offline. Train them on how to represent your brand effectively.

Recognize and reward employees who go above and beyond in promoting your business. By publicly praising those employees, you show your other employees how you value positive promotions of the company. And this can strengthen your work culture and make it a positive place to work.

2. Community Engagement

You can build a strong reputation within your community, whether it's your local community or your industry community. Show your customers you care about more than just making a profit by giving back to the communities and people who support your business.

Get involved in community events, sponsor local charities and youth sports teams, and encourage (and provide time) employees to participate in volunteer activities.

Participate in online communities related to the interests and industries you serve. You can brand yourself as an expert by participating in discussions and providing advice and information.

3. Influencer Partnerships

Partnering with micro-influencers can boost your company's brand and reputation. Identify the influencers in your niche who have engaged and interested followers that match your target demographic. Make sure they align with your brand values and mission.

Partner with them on things like sponsored content, special events, and product reviews. Collaborate on special promotions that will put your brand in front of their followers so you can both benefit from the "halo effect" of being associated with one another.

7 Steps for Business Reputation Management

You're already busy with running your business, doing all the back office administrative work, on top of the things your business actually does. But if you want your business to succeed, you either have to find time to do these things, or you have to do them yourself.

1. Know what people are saying about you

Keep an eye on what people are saying about your business online and offline. Monitor review sites and industry forums regularly. Make sure to respond to all feedback, whether positive or negative (see #5 below).

Set up a social media listening post with a tool like Sprout Social or HootSuite and make sure you can access the social networks you belong to.

Use Google Alerts for online mentions of your company name and your executives' names. It can deliver daily emails about all mentions of you on websites, blogs, and in the media.

2. Be active on social media

Engage with your audience on social media platforms and share relevant and interesting content to showcase your brand's personality. Post updates about your products or services, industry news, and upcoming events.

Pick two or three social networks that suit you and focus solely on those. Generally, work on LinkedIn if you're in the B2B world, and Facebook if you're in B2C. Then, try Instagram, TikTok, and/or the network-formerly-known-as-Twitter.

3. Provide great service

Focus on providing great products or services and delivering an outstanding customer experience. Train your staff to make customer satisfaction their priority and let them handle small issues on their own. Give them the freedom to make decisions themselves and then monitor the results.

Encourage feedback from your customers as a way to identify areas of improvement. If you notice a pattern in the types of feedback, that should tell you which areas need help. Ask your staff where they see problems that could be improved and what complaints and grumblings they have heard.

4. Ask for positive reviews

Encourage your customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook, or whatever your industry uses (e.g. travel sites for travel destinations). Offer incentives like discounts or rewards to motivate customers to leave feedback.

5. Handle negative feedback with grace

People will leave negative feedback, and others will see it, so respond promptly and professionally. Your responses are for your future customers as much as the people who complain. They won't be discouraged by negative feedback if they see that you handle it well.

Acknowledge the person's concerns and apologize for any inconvenience. Tell them what steps you are taking to ensure it doesn't happen again. Offer solutions or compensation, if that is warranted.

You can turn your negative feedback into a positive interaction and grow your reputation more than if you only ever showed positive feedback.

6. Be Transparent

Be honest and transparent in your interactions with your customers. Communicate openly about your products, pricing, and policies. Don't hide them, don't try to disguise price changes. Tell them when prices are increasing or when you have to change your product offering.

Don't lie! Address any questions and concerns honestly. The reputations of several global brands are suffering because they raised prices and blamed it on inflation, only for people to realize they have given giant increases to their executives and still reaching record profits.

Admit mistakes when they occur and take responsibility for fixing them. Apologize when it's necessary. When you hide from your mistakes and hope that things will blow over, your inaction and non-response will only fan the flames and people will spread news of your failure even further.

7. Measure, Adjust, Repeat

You need to continuously monitor your business' reputation through feedback, statistics, and performance metrics. Use the online listening tools I mentioned earlier, as well as your website's analytics, plus any analytics offered by your social media platforms.

Adjust your strategy based on the feedback and data you receive. If you see your ratings slip because of a price increase, explain the reason for it. If you see complaints about delivery times, work to speed up delivery, or re-adjust your stated delivery window.

Include information on refunds and returns in every item you deliver so people can't say they're not aware of it. Make sure that you cover all your bases in advance to head off any potential complaints that you weren't transparent enough.



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Final Thoughts

Reputation management is more critical in running today's business world than ever before. By managing your reputation, you can influence how others perceive you, attract new customers, and build long-term relationships with your customers.

By following the various steps outlined in this article, you can develop a powerful business reputation management strategy that leads the way to success. Your business' brand and reputation are your most valuable assets, but you can protect it for free just by being open, responding to all feedback, and providing a good customer experience.

By spending a little money and taking a little time, you can protect your entire world, promote your brand, and help your company succeed even in the face of a crisis or negative feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can businesses measure the success of their social responsibility efforts?

Businesses can measure the success of their social responsibility efforts by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) related to environmental impact, employee satisfaction, community engagement, and adherence to ethical standards. Regularly assessing and transparently reporting on these metrics helps demonstrate progress.

How Can Small Businesses Benefit from E-Business?

Small businesses can benefit from E-Business through global reach, cost efficiency, and improved customer engagement. Digital platforms provide access to a broader customer base, reduce operational costs, and enable direct communication with customers.

Which platform is right for my business?

Generally, Shopify is good for entrepreneurs looking for a simple, easy-to-use platform. WooCommerce is better for those looking for a fully customizable web store.

Can I upgrade my business over time?

According to the demands that your business has, you can elevate your reseller hosting account at any moment.

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