Reputation matters in business — both online and via word of mouth. In fact, recent statistics from reputationX noted that 49 percent of consumers need to see at least a four-star rating before going with a business, and not just one four star rating. The average customer wants to see at least seven good reviews before trusting the business. A bad reputation can make customers steer clear of your business without ever giving you a chance, and can also dissuade potential employees from joining your team.
There are many potential happenings that could damage your reputation: a competitor says something bad, a PR crisis gets out of hand, or a customer with a large social media account is vocal about a bad experience. Even if none of these happenings have occurred yet (and, hopefully they never do!), attention to bolstering your company’s reputation from the get-go is always advised. Here are four easy ways to bolster your company’s reputation as you go.
1. Reward Reviews
Since reviews matter so much to new customers, think through ways you can garner more of them. The truth is, customers seldom take the effort to leave reviews unless something dissatisfactory happens. According to Review Trackers, a consumer is 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one. So, to encourage more reviews, Autumn Rivers recommends offering an incentive for any review they leave (as it wouldn’t be ethical to only reward for positive reviews).
“That reward could be a discount on future products, or it could be an entry to a contest so they can win a free product or some other prize…. You can even make a contest for the most creative or entertaining review – whether it’s on video or in the written word – and then feature it on your site,” Rivers suggested.
2. Go Above And Beyond In Your Service
To ensure those reviews are good, however, and to make sure you have word of mouth on your side, make sure you’re going above and beyond with your service. Shawn Henry, the founder and CEO of Efficient Home Services, learned this firsthand. “People didn’t take me seriously at first because of my bad (personal) reputation from mistakes in my younger years. I made sure to work hard to show them the personal growth I made and what customers could expect from me,” shared Henry. “Going above and beyond is always the only way to go. My value is to commit with urgency to my customers and my business.”
Think through ways you can show your customers how much they mean to you, and make them feel special as a result. No one ever forgets a business that goes above and beyond.
3. Be Open About Responding To Bad Reviews
Getting a bad review is never fun, but even if you do everything ‘right,’ the likelihood that you will receive one is still high. Simply put, you can’t please everybody! But, you can learn from their complaints. Since you cannot delete reviews on places like Yelp and Google, the best course of action is to reply to every review – positive and negative. “Your responses to your negative reviews are a big opportunity to show potential clients and customers your professionalism, the care with which you do business, your quickness and willingness to remedy a situation, and the level of responsibility you take when something is amiss,” writes Rachel Arst McCollough.
Potential customers read your responses to reviews, too – so, McCollough advises to make sure the response is timely (show how much they matter to you!) and incorporates some type of resolution proposition. How are you going to seek to make it right? “For example, if you’re a salon owner and the review’s haircut came out unintentionally uneven, offer to have them come in at a convenient time to have it fixed at no charge. And be sure to let them know that you’ll also be taking care of the tip for the stylist who will be fixing it,” McCollough said.
4. Offer Value On Social Media
Finally, one of the best ways to bolster your reputation consistently is to offer value on social media. Think through ways you can build trust with your target audience by giving them this value for free. That way, they see you as the expert and come to rely on your expertise, and can attest to your reputation even if they haven’t yet purchased from you. If you sell kitchenware, post videos about the best way to organize it in your cupboard. If your business makes custom dog collars, show a behind-the-scenes on how you choose the collar material.
The possibilities are endless here, but in addition to teaching your target customer something related to your product or service, just consider how you can make content that is interesting to consume. This can help in building an organic following, which also helps your business’s reputation.
Remember that these steps should be taken consistently in advance of any negative reviews or potential slashes to your company’s reputation. Just like the famous quote says, “It takes twenty years to build a positive reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” approach your company’s reputation as a long game, holding regard for your customers and their happiness as your priority. They will sense that!