It’s a shocking fact that businesses with mostly 1 star or 2 star reviews online fail to convert around 90% of prospective customers. What this shows us is that bad reviews mean a lack in consumer trust, which in turn can destroy a business. When customers and clients trust a business, it benefits from increased engagement, sales and publicity.
That is why reputation management is so relevant and so important in the modern business world as consumers can voice their opinions so openly, freely and publicly.
In order to manage your business’s reputation, you have to be proactive. The problem for most business owners is that they don’t know where to start! We have broken down the approach to reputation management into five sections to give you a starting point.
Step 1 – Understanding What Reputation Management Is
The first thing you need to do is understand what reputation management is. Anything that you do to shape public perception of your business or brand is reputation management. This might include creating website content on your environmentally friendly policies, sponsoring a charity or directly responding to customer feedback. You should also understand the consequences of a bad reputation:
- Businesses lose 70% of customers when 4 or more negative reviews are found online
- 41% of companies that experience a negative reputation incident report a loss of brand value and revenue
It’s also important to understand the laws surrounding reputation management too. Whilst clients and customers have the freedom of speech to tell other people about their experiences with your business, there comes a point where it becomes defamation of your business. If they use abusive or insulting language, report false information or use threatening behavior, they have crossed the line and you are entitled to contact a lawyer specializing in defamation.
Step 2 – Dispute Resolution
Knowing how to quickly and professionally resolve any disputes that arise is key to the success of any reputation management strategy. It is likely that your business will come across a disgruntled customer from time to time, so if there is a dispute resolution policy in place which clearly outlines how to tackle such situations, the matter is more likely to be resolved quickly with minimal damage to your business’s reputation.
Finding a way to compensate disgruntled customers usually resolves the issue. If your dispute arises at an event you are hosting due to a member of the public becoming injured or their property becoming damaged, the compensation costs could be significant.
Setting up the appropriate event insurance policy will enable you to pay any compensation required in a fast and efficient manner and could also save you from a hefty bill!
Step 3 – Staff Training
Your employees are the face of your business, so if they aren’t trained properly in customer service, dispute resolution and your core brand values, they might not be representing your business in the best possible way. By implementing engaging staff training sessions and including a social media usage policy within your employees contracts, you can minimize any unintentional harm staff members might do to your brands reputation.
Step 4 – Public Relations
One of the best methods of improving your business’s reputation is to proactively partake in public relations activities. Whether you organize an event in which you sponsor a local charity, take your staff out on a ‘beach clean-up’ day or create an advertising campaign with a popular celebrity, public relations can really shape the public’s perception of your business.
You should also try to consider corporate social responsibility, as giving back to the community and the environment will do wonders for your reputation.
Step 5 – Online Reviews
When you consider that 81% of consumers do online research before they make a purchase, it’s clear to see that the world wide web is one place every business owner needs to protect their reputation. Whether it’s on social media, review sites like Check A Trade or on forums, you have to address what is being said about your business online. Here are a few tips for successful online reputation management:
- Use Google Alerts to monitor mentions of your business online
- Respond to reviews on social media and review sites, whether they are good or bad
- Avoid confrontation online, try to take the discussion offline
- Ask happy customers to review you online
- Get involved with forums. Answer questions and become the thought leader in your industry
By getting proactive and following these 5 steps, your reputation is sure to flourish. This isn’t, however, a strategy you can do once and forget about. It is an ongoing process which needs constant attention.