Reputation management. It’s a phrase that is being thrown around everywhere these days but what exactly does it mean? And why should you and your business even care?
Reputation management is defined as “the process of identifying what other people are saying or feeling about you or your business; and taking steps to ensure that the general consensus is in line with your goals.”
Managing your reputation involves knowing what your clients or customers are saying about you and your business and making sure that if what they are saying is not in alignment with your goals and visions, that you do something positive to correct it.
What you do to correct the general consensus’ opinion depends largely on where the issue originates. Usually, when there is a challenge with your business’ image among its clients or customers, it requires you to take a closer look at how you do business and to correct a few things. If you have difficulty looking inwards towards your business’ processes and employees (and yes, ’employees’ includes you, the boss!) then you probably shouldn’t be running a business or, if we’re totally honest, you probably won’t be for long. It sounds harsh but it’s true.
As a business owner, you have to be willing and able to look at every aspect of your business and ask ‘What can we do better as a business for our customers? What processes need to change to serve our customers better? What employees need to be trained more or even let go of in order to improve the reputation of the business?’
Your business’ reputation is what fuels its success or failure. People trust what other people say about your business more than they will trust what you say about your business. Your business’ reputation can build trust and credibility or it can destroy everything you are working for. Sound important? You bet it is!
So how do you manage your reputation in such a way that is honest and not manipulative? Some business owners have people they know write false testimonials and reviews in an effort to bury the negative ones or they immediately go on the defensive with the person leaving the bad review or testimonial. However, these methods will almost invariably continue the destruction of your business’ reputation and are not recommended.
Reputation management, when done correctly, involves really delving deep into why people are saying what they are saying about you and your business, positive or negative, and taking appropriate actions to positively affect your business’ reputation.
Handling Negative Hits To Your Reputation
If you start to see that you or your business’ reputation is taking a negative hit, it’s time to really listen to what is being said. Are there vindictive people out there who will try and trash your reputation because they didn’t get their way or they got called out on something they themselves did wrong? Yes, there are and they can be dealt with in a positive manner as well. However, even people like that can give you insight as to how to handle situations in your business better.
Every thing that is said about your business is a learning experience. Even those things that get said by seemingly unreasonable people. Why? Because people act unreasonable when they feel their needs haven’t been met or they feel they have been wronged in some way. When this happens, take a step back before responding and really look at your business’ interactions with that person. Then ask yourself “What, if anything, could we have done better in our dealings with this person? What do they really want that we didn’t give them?”
There are many needs people are trying to get met when they leave a negative or downright mean review of your company. Sometimes they just want to be noticed. Other times they may feel that their issues haven’t really been addressed or they just want an apology for a wrong they feel was done to them. Learn from these experiences. The way you react during these interactions especially can improve your business beyond your dreams. Pay close attention to these types of negative reactions and constantly be working on ways to improve the way you and your business responds to them.
For more on how to handle bad reviews, read my articled called How To Respond Well To Bad Reviews And Internet Trolls here.
A Positive Reputation Does Not Let You Off The Hook
So does this mean that if all your reviews and testimonials are perfect and you have a stellar reputation you don’t have to do anything? No! You can learn just as much from a positive reputation as you can from a negative one.
A positive reputation not only tells you what you’re doing right but it also tells you what your customers want. From this information you can not only continue what you’re currently doing but also look for ways to go above and beyond those expectations for your customers. By being forward thinking you will continue to find new ways for your business to be innovative and stay ahead of your competitors.
When you have a positive reputation, that is your customers saying “Yes! That’s what I want. Give me more of that!” and that’s such valuable feedback to have. Now you know what your customers want and that your business is delivering those things to them. Fantastic! Now your goal is to see beyond the here and the now and deliver the things that your customers don’t even know they want and need yet. That is what will really catapult your business to a place your competitors only dream of going.
Managing Your Reputation
Reputation management is about keeping your eyes, ears, and heart open so that you are aware of what people are saying about you or your business. You do this by monitoring, or having someone who works for your business monitor, all reviews, testimonials, and social media platforms in order to identify any issues or questions. Then this person must address those issues or questions immediately – regardless of whether they are negative or positive ones. It also involves paying attention to what your customers as well as the community around you are saying about you and your business. Awareness is key here because only once you are aware can you actually do something positive for your reputation.
NetSource Media excels at reputation management for its clients with services and tools ranging from Social Media to Review Management to Email Marketing to Local Listings Management and more. Click here to learn more about NetSource Media’s Services and how we can help your business manage its reputation.