It used to be the only guarantees in life were death and taxes but, with the rise of the internet, a third has stepped up onto the podium and it goes like this: nothing is as important as your online reputation.
Have a great online reputation and you can conquer the world (read: attract new customers, keep existing ones and weather the storm of a tough economy). But entertain a bad online rep and you will find your business sinks faster than a lead anchor. You could have the best products on the market or offer the best service this side of Timbuktu, it won’t matter because perception is reality.
Here are some easy ways you can shape how people talk about you behind your back:
Track What’s Being Said
You can only fix the problems you are aware of, which is why the most important part of your reputation strategy is tracking what’s being said. It doesn’t matter if it is a mention of you, your business, your brand, your products, or what, by tracking what is said you can then make amends, even if it is just a comment that clarifies a misunderstanding.
Start A Business Blog
Of all the kickass reasons to have a business blog, the best is the value it gives your customers. You are giving them something without asking for anything in return, which is an incredible way to influence them and start positioning yourself as a thought leader. So long as it is written in a creative way, focuses on them and isn’t too salesy, you will find your reputation skyrockets.
Manage The Conversation
It doesn’t matter whether you operate within the finance sector or steel industry, being able to control the conversation is a decision you need to make now. People look at an average of four reviews before they make a decision to buy or commit, which means they are looking for reviews. For example, you will find no Armstrong Steel building complaints online because of the way they manage their reputation, while you will find evidence of customer dissatisfaction among their competitors. Who do you think gets the most business.
Always, Always Apologise
If you come across negative talk about your business, always apologise. Take the time to say you are sorry. Not only will this go a long way as a gesture, it will also give you the chance to bring them back around to yourself. Speak to them, find out what they disliked, how you can amend it, offer them something by way of apology and watch as you turn a negative into a positive (read: a happy customer who will come back again).
Facts Not Confusion
More often than not, negative reputations spiral off the back of incorrect information or misunderstandings. To limit this happening to you, put the facts out there. That could mean approaching industry influencers to get the truth across or dedicating a part of your website to the facts. If people are that bothered, they will look for both sides of the story. It is up to you to help them find the truth.