Why do businesses need reputation management?
These days having a bad reputation can cause a business to go under fast, especially with the speed that things can go viral on social media like Facebook and Twitter. That’s why reputation management is something that many businesses today are getting into.
What is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is keeping track of or influencing a person or a company’s reputation. The Internet has made it possible for potential customers to easily search for a business and find out what others are thinking about it. There are review sites, blogs, webpages and more. Some are fake, while some are not and this makes it even more vital for a company to pay attention to its reputation management.
It’s entirely possible for a rival business to ruin another company’s reputation with fake reviews and negative comments on websites. It’s pretty much impossible to tell if a review on a product or business is real or fake, so sadly these days the online reviews we read on places like Amazon or elsewhere could be entirely fake.
How Can Reputation Management Help?
In order to help prevent this type of thing from happening, it’s vital for a business to monitor its reputation through the use of a reputation manager or at least to do it yourself. If they don’t, there is always the chance one unsatisfied customer can totally ruin a business in only a few hours if some bad or negative post they put on their Facebook or Twitter page goes viral.
Customers want to be able to trust the businesses they deal with, so it is logical that they want to know if their reputation is good or bad. That’s why hiring someone to do reputation management can help your business to thrive and grow instead of crashing and burning because someone got a client upset or because a rival prints a fake review.
Do Small Businesses Need Reputation Management?
You may think to yourself, big companies need reputation management because so many people go there and then go online to talk about their experiences. But, my business is small, so surely no one cares to do that to me. I don’t even have a review site online. However, that isn’t always the case. Even if the business doesn’t have a website the customer likely does. If that customer gets angry and starts posting about their dissatisfaction, then that small business is going to get shunned by anyone reading that entry.
Then there is word-of-mouth. If your small business gets someone upset and they merely start talking and saying negative things about it, then the news can travel fast in a small town and you know how things get bigger and bigger as the story gets told over and over. This can ruin your reputation and your bottom line.
Small or large, your business does need reputation management. It may be something new for the smaller mom and pop stores, but it is vital and could mean the difference between staying in business and not staying in business, especially in a world where everyone is on their smart phones or other Internet capable devices talking all day long.
Large versus small Businesses
The small businesses have less money to spend on reputation management, and that is one place the bigger ones have the advantage. However, it’s vital for them to take a part of their budget to spend it on reputation management because a small town business can live or die based on recommendations from clients.
The idea of monitoring all kinds of company-related names, product names, executive’s names, and so forth, probably turns off a lot of small business owners. They think they don’t have time for that. What’s the absolute minimum that a small business should be doing to monitor its reputation online? If you are a small business owner, you may think you just don’t have time to monitor things like that online but you have to do it or face the consequences. There are plenty of local and small business review sites online like Yelp, InsiderPages or CitySearch.com to mention a few.
Plus, you need to do searches on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest or Google + to see if your brand or business name shows up. If you have a Facebook account you need to be proactive and make sure you are helping customers, answering their questions, finding solutions to their concerns, etc. All of this can help your reputation to be good instead of getting a reputation of never helping or carrying about your customers.
Big businesses likely do all this through a public relations firm, and if you have the funds, a small business can do the same. If not, you can do it yourself or perhaps hire an employee whose job is to look for reputation based items online, in the news, etc. about your company. It will be worth it to know what people are thinking about your store!
Steps to Help Your Reputation
There are several things a business can do to keep their reputation intact. For one, try to determine if your customers are satisfied. If you own a restaurant, for instance, wander around the floor welcoming customers, asking, how the food and service is and if you can do anything to make their experience better. If they have a problem, work to fix it right away. This shows that you care about the customer and that wins you points to having a good reputation.
If no matter what you do there are negative things said about your business, then find out what caused the reaction and be honest and sincere in telling the customer that you will do whatever in your power there is to fix it. Ask if you can have another chance to do a better job. If it’s a restaurant as in the other example, perhaps offer them a free meal. This should help leave a more positive impression on the clients.
All in all, reputation is everything when it comes to staying in business, so reputation management is a vital thing for all companies big or small to do.
Here is a screenshot of my reputation online via a Google Search. What does your online reputation say about you if I Google your business name?