10 Ways to build, maintain and manage your reputation

female founder leaning on her desk with computer, private equity, entrepreneurWhether you’re a solopreneur, a business owner or part of a team, you’ll know that your reputation can have a major influence on those who choose to work with you (or not).

But how do you build, maintain and manage your reputation?

In a world where people have access to information at their fingertips 24 hours a day, it has never been easier to make our thoughts and feelings known publicly – whether it’s sharing opinions in forums or on social media.

It wasn’t that long ago when people started to use Twitter as a way of contacting brands and airing their grievances. There was an unwritten rule that a problem would be resolved faster if it was posted on social media as the brand wouldn’t want to be seen as having upset customers in such an exposing way.

Undoubtedly the social media team representing these brands would respond in a much faster timeframe than if you were complaining through traditional, private communication methods.

Nowadays it seems that customers will air their grievances wherever they can to get the answers that they’re looking for. It may be that they respond to your content on Instagram with negative comments. It may be that they leave a bad review on Google or TripAdvisor. They may even write a long post about you on their Facebook page and suggest that their friends and family avoid your company like the plague.

This means that your reputation can be determined by the opinions of others. Your reputation is not a tangible product – it’s not something you can touch, taste or smell, it’s simply a perception that other people have of you, regardless of it being true or false.

You may have formed an opinion of a founder or of a brand based on what you’ve heard from other people. Your opinion may be swayed by their opinion rather than based on your own experience. Sadly, for the person or brand in question it’s these opinions that can determine how positive your reputation is.

Which begs the question: how do you create a positive reputation, or turn a negative or unsavory reputation into a positive one?

Here are my top tips on how to build, maintain and manage your reputation:

1. Deliver what you say you’ll deliver

Misleading people is one of the first pitfalls to avoid when running a business. 

If your product says that it can do x then make sure it actually can. If your delivery time is four days, make sure the customer receives their order within four days. Disgruntled customers are incredibly powerful in a social media age, so it’s best to manage expectations from the offset. If delivery is going to be delayed, tell them. If there are setbacks that couldn’t be avoided, tell them. Communication is essential at keeping customers happy – even if you’re communicating bad news.

2. Positivity breeds positivity

Encourage customers and client to leave reviews on Google, TripAdvisor, your website etc by offering them an incentive to do so.

Receiving reviews from customers and clients prove that your product or service works and that people were happy to buy from you and work with you. Great reviews can really enhance your business and automatically build trust with people who have never bought from you before. 

Spread the love in your marketing so that even more people can experience the outcomes of what you offer.

3. Go above & beyond where you can, within reason

The customer journey is one of the most powerful tools in setting expectations and delivering a first class service. Make sure that every touchpoint from you, your business or your brand always has the customer in mind.

Is your website easy to navigate? Are you responding to comments on social media? Are you replying to emails in a timely manner?

But be careful! Don’t just rely on the front end of the customer journey – think about the overall experience you’re providing. How are you packaging products? Are you including a hand written note or offering a discount on their next purchase? In my opinion, Papier has an exquisite customer journey. Opening your Papier purchase is a mini celebration every time. They certainly know how to make their customers feel special – that’s what people will remember and why they’lll refer them to friends and family. They even encourage you to share your purchases by tagging them on Instagram. I know from experience that they respond to tags too, making the customer feel even more special.

Are there ways that you can improve the customer journey to make it even more special?

Don’t forget that customer service doesn’t end as soon as an order has been placed. Customer service is never-ending as happy customers will continue to buy from you time and time again.

4. Don’t ignore negative reviews

No-one likes to receive negative reviews or hear their product or service being critiqued, but looking for the positive in the negative will help you grow as a business owner. None of us are perfect, so negative reviews give us the opportunity to further enhance what we’re offering and improve it to become even better.

If you do choose to ignore negative reviews then you’re demonstrating to the person leaving the review that their opinion doesn’t matter, which will further enhance a bad reputation.

Customers want to feel seen and heard – respond to their comments and their opinion and resolve their issue in a timely manner. Then they’re more likely to buy from you again.

5. Remove the emotion when responding to negativity

If you’re a solo business owner it’s really easy to take negative feedback or criticism personally. This is your opportunity to step out of your business and into the shoes of your customer, so that you can see things from their perspective. Most people don’t enjoy complaining unless absolutely necessary, so see it as an opportunity to learn and grow and improve your product or service offering.

It’s often easier said than done, so when you do receive a negative review the best thing to do is take a deep breath, count to ten, or go for a walk if needed, then respond when you’ve had a chance to collect your thoughts and approach your response from a place of positivity rather than feeling under attack and responding in a defensive way.

If this is going to be too much of a struggle, delegate this task to someone with fantastic customer service skills who knows how to navigate the situation in a positive way.

6. Invite customers into the decision making process

Well all love it when our favourite brands ask us for our opinion on their next collection, or ask us what flavour crisps they should launch next. As a customer we feel like our opinion matters and we feel included in the decision making process.

In a world where we often feel disconnected, customers are really feeling the need for connection at the moment, so encourage conversations and interactions on social media and in your email marketing campaigns.

Whether you’re a solopreneur, a business owner or work as part of a team, remember that we’re all human and we unintentionally make mistakes, but how we respond to those mistakes will influence how people remember us – that’s where we all have the ability to create, or break our own reputation. 

Laura PerkesAbout the author

Laura Perkes is a Lifestyle PR Consultant and the Founder of PR with Perkes. They work with coaches, consultants and progressive brands that want to make a difference in the world by ripping up the rulebook, disrupting the status quo and delivering transformational change.

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