Your company needs to put its best foot forward in order to make a good impression. With more than 60% of your customers turning to mobile devices in 2019, companies are under increasing scrutiny online and off. Online audiences are tuned in to the reputation of your business; their virtual observations will determine where they spend their dollars.
Managing your business’ reputation is one of your most important to-dos as a company. Your overarching goal should be to positively shape the consumer perception of your company so that audiences want to engage with and support you. Successful reputation management is essential to the success of your business. Did you know that 25% of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation? It’s true. Working to create a positive rep for your business is key to both your brand and bottom line.
Principles of Reputation Management
Like we’ve emphasized, a strong reputation is critical to the success of your business, and building that strong reputation involves a number of important factors. Let’s review a few basic principles of reputation management that should be a part of your individual business strategy.
- Remember, your goal is to shape consumer perception of your business. This means you are taking charge of the aspects of your business operations that you can control. By strategically enacting (and responding to) various marketing, engagement, and customer service choices, you can help customers choose to engage with you and develop a positive relationship with your business. Meaning, you’ve got work to do to build a strong reputation. It doesn’t just happen.
- You need a strategy. This builds on the first principle, but know that the businesses with the best reps have to work at it. Their five-star reviews, viral word of mouth buzz, and sky-high sales aren’t an accident. Your business needs to take a proactive approach to build a strong reputation by executing the most effective tools and appropriately planning for any contingencies—all in ways that make sense for your business. Taking the time to consciously plan out the strategies for maintaining a strong business impression is an investment that will result in great returns.
- Think customer touchpoints. Quality reputation management has a lot to do with building and nurturing consumer relationships. These key connections are formed through customer touchpoints or points of contact or interaction. Prioritizing these precious touchpoints means that you’re putting your audience first, which largely results in a positive perception of your business.
- Manage = monitor, respond, analyze. When we talk about successfully managing your online reputation, we’re essentially talking about three main steps: monitoring, responding and analyzing. Centering your efforts around these essential actions will guide your online reputation management strategy as you work to listen, react, and improve as a business.
Strategies for Corporate Reputation Management
Now that you understand the basic principles, let’s talk about the key tools of corporate reputation management. When enacted effectively, these building blocks are the strategies that can help you shape a positive perception of your business.
- A strong online presence. More than simply having a website or social media profile, your business needs to be actively present on the web, taking control of the information created by and about your business and engaging audiences often. These days, first impressions are largely made online, so you need virtual street smarts to establish a strong rep. Make sure you are managing a thorough and detailed Google My Business listing, offering valuable web content on a blog or other source, and are joining in conversations with consumers in meaningful ways. Your online presence is a huge factor in how your business is viewed—and in turn, the kind of success you see.
- SEO. You don’t have to have a black belt in SEO to understand this simple truth: the ranking your business earns in search engine results is largely determined by how well you manage your corporate reputation. That being said, you’ll want to make sure to engage in strategies that boost your SEO. Many factors influence SEO (and then there’s that pesky Google algorithm), but a few to get you started: again, maintaining a quality, regularly-updated Google My Business listing, soliciting and obtaining online reviews, and keyword optimization on your website. Additionally, with the rise of “near me” searches, you’ll want to prioritize local search optimization through relevance, proximity, and distance improvement strategies.
- Social media listening and engagement. Even if you’re not completely fluent in the double-taps and apps of the social media universe, know this: conversations surrounding businesses are happening all over social media networks. You’ll want to maintain an active social media presence so you can engage in social listening practices that help you understand the perception surrounding your business. By keeping your finger on the pulse of social conversation about your company, you’ll get insider insight on how to adjust your strategies and improve your business. Plus, social media platforms are an informal and low-pressure way to connect with your audiences and build your reputation as an engaged, interested business.
- Customer service. Truly, customer service is a tool that can make or break your business’ reputation. The numbers can’t emphasize that point enough—not only will 61% of customers will take their business to a competitor after a poor customer service experience, but Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, (versus the 11 they’ll tell about a good experience). Mishandle a customer complaint or fail to respond to a question, and your corporate reputation will suffer. Poor customer service will cost your business—in more ways than one. Dedicate yourself to developing strong customer service skills and creating positive experiences for your audiences by acknowledging and offering solutions to their concerns, kindly and professionally handling issues, and seeking feedback.
- Brand management. In addition to maintaining strong customer service and an active online presence, you want to be a well-rounded business. Meaning, you’re not always pushing sales, all the time. Yes, you want financial (and perhaps physical) growth. But you also should prioritize other important aspects of the business: giving back to your communities, forming meaningful partnerships, offering valuable content, and valuing customer feedback. Show customers that you are in it for more than just dollar signs. It’s not just about good PR; it’s about building a brand worthy of a strong corporate reputation.
Today, consumers rely heavily on feedback from online reviews from current customers when deciding whether or not a business is worth their time and money. You cannot neglect the task of review management if you want to build and maintain a five-star corporate reputation. Review management includes first: giving your best as a business, then next: monitoring review sites, responding (to both negative and positive reviews), and using customer reviews to adjust and improve your business. (Don’t worry, we can help you with all of that.)
Your corporate reputation isn’t just ignorable internet gossip. How audiences perceive your business will largely determine your success as a business—so develop strategies and make the creation of a strong corporate reputation an urgent must-do.