A company’s reputation has always been integral to its overall success and popularity. This being said, with the rapid growth of the online world and the countless ways in which consumers interact with this world, reputation has never been more important. In the past it was usually only larger businesses which had to worry about their brand but now any company with an online presence can fall victim to disaster. With this in mind, there are a number of ways to proactively protect your online reputation in order to safeguard your business and its appeal.
Monitoring your online presence is vital for gaining a complete understanding of your company’s reputation. This includes your main website, social media outlets and even pages which you haven’t personally set up, e.g. customer review sites. It’s also worth pointing out that there are hundreds of social networking sites online and it may be necessary to look beyond the main few. Even if you’re not discussing your business on these sites it doesn’t mean nobody else is. Being vigilant will allow you to spot any problems before they become too big and much more difficult to deal with.
Whether it’s praise, queries or even criticism, it’s imperative to reply to customer interactions as much as possible. If a customer has a complaint and they discuss this issue online it will have an effect on your company’s reputation, even if it’s unfounded. Reply to customers in a calm and professional manner and try to provide a solution to their problem. If somebody has a complaint and there is any truth to this complaint try to move the discussion into a more positive area. Acknowledge your fault in the matter and talk about how you will rectify the situation. This will showcase you as a fair and attentive business, not only to that single customer but also to everyone viewing the interaction.
Communication is incredibly important to building a strong and successful online reputation. Businesses who ignore their customers are going to find it difficult to build loyalty and therefore are likely to lose revenue.
Consumers like to feel secure about visiting or purchasing from a website. With so many of the bigger players benefiting from exceptional security, customers have become complacent that their private information will be safe. This means that any company, however small is required to provide an online environment which is not only interactive but also completely secure. One of the best ways to do this is by employing the use of seals.
Seals signify that your website has been approved by an official source. There are many different seals to choose from covering issues such as those which identify the site as free from malware or safe to complete transactions with. It’s worth noting that there are also seals available which simply signify that the website and therefore the company have a good reputation and can therefore be trusted.
Creating high quality content not only attracts new customers to your brand but can also help to improve your reputation with existing customers. The content that you create will be unique to your business and what it offers but can include things such as videos, articles, podcasts, interviews or just general news updates. Whatever it is that you decide to upload try and put a unique spin on it to help you stand out from the pack. You can also try using different platforms to publish your content in order to reach a wide audience. For example, LinkedIn and Google+ both allow users to publish blogs and videos and link these posts with similar content elsewhere.
Although good business practices are still extremely important, consumers want more from their companies. A comprehensive online infrastructure is now the norm and this can have a substantial effect on your overall reputation.
The business world can be incredibly unpredictable and sometimes unfair. It is therefore imperative that companies be proactive in their approach to issues such as negative feedback, bad press and even scandal. We have seen countless businesses over the years become irreparably damaged due to controversy and often these situations are mishandled. Of course larger businesses are more likely to be attacked but that doesn’t mean small and medium companies should be complacent. With the internet permeating every facet of business, every company is fair game, whatever the size.
Your reputation is a precious commodity that cannot be bought and once lost can be irretrievable. With this in mind, approach the situation proactively and put a plan in place before it is actually required. For example discuss the procedure your company will follow in the event of negative press or create a list of guidelines for dealing with negative feedback online.