As an entrepreneur, you work hard day in and day out to manage various aspects of your business: inventory, finances, quality, service. But one of the most important factors in success is one that you have limited control over: your reputation. While you can spend lots of time and energy creating a solid brand image and telling your story to potential customers, the truth is that they’re more likely to listen to their peers—even anonymous peers online—than you when it comes to forming an opinion about your business.
It’s daunting to consider how much influence the public has over your reputation. But although some things are out of your control, you alone have the power to manage your reputation—both the positive and negative aspects.
Here are 4 tips to help you get started with reputation management:
1. Create a Forum for Direct Feedback
Want to avoid seeing rage-filled posts about your business on a public forum? Make sure that it’s easy for customers to come directly to you to share their grievances. If it’s impossible to reach you by phone, email, or social media, a customer may go from mildly dissatisfied to seriously unhappy. And unhappy voices tend to make the most noise.
2. Ask Customers for Feedback Soon After a Purchase
To encourage positive feedback online, ask customers to write a review or share their experience on your social media channels shortly after a purchase. Patrons are more likely to take the time to gush about your business if they have a positive interaction fresh in their minds.
3. Monitor Key Review Sites
Keeping abreast of both positive and negative comments means monitoring the websites where customers are writing reviews. Identify a few top sites to look at on a frequent basis; you can also set up Google Alerts to see where your business name appears on pages across the web.
4. Respond Quickly to Negative Feedback
No matter how great your business is, there will always be some people who write negative comments and reviews. While you can’t prevent them from airing their complaints, you can be proactive in responding to them.
Investigate each piece of negative feedback to see if there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed. If so, contact the customer promptly and take whatever steps needed to rectify the situation. If not, then decide whether or not to engage with the person. Each case is unique, and only you will be able to discern the right response in a given situation.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to reputation management, being proactive is essential. If you help cranky customers resolve their issues quickly, you can turn potentially damaging feedback into a big win. Likewise, if you encourage happy customers to review your business when they’ve recently interacted with you, you’ll be able to build up a collection of positive feedback to offset any negative reviews that others share.