Protect Your Business Reputation or Fail

protect your reputation

Reputation is everything when it comes to running a business. The better your reputation is as a company, the higher customer and employee satisfaction, the higher your revenue, and the lower your legal fees. If monitoring and managing your business reputation isn’t near the top of your to-do list, you need to move it up. Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can improve your business reputation to make it as good as possible. Let’s look now at just some of the best ways to improve your reputation. All of these are really worth thinking about if you want your business to succeed. Sure, none of them are a quick fix, but that just highlights how important it is to manage your business reputation from the beginning. Taking steps now to improve your reputation will mitigate damage and, over time, reduce the effects caused by a poor business reputation.

protect your reputation

Ways to protect your business reputation

First, let’s start by defining reputation management:

Reputation management is the practice of influencing stakeholder perceptions and public conversations about an organization and its brands. It includes monitoring perceptions and conversations, responding to reputation threats, and proactively seizing opportunities to boost reputation. [source]

And, as you can see in the quote above, effectively managing your business reputation is seen as a key element of business success. Yet, most businesses don’t focus sufficient attention on their reputation. They don’t set goals related to reputation, for instance. Nor do they charge a particular employee with constantly monitoring, auditing, and managing their reputation instead adding it to the tasks assigned to an already overwhelmed marketing or branding executive without the authority to set standards in other departments.

I was doing some interviews with marketing executives regarding how they monitor their reputation a few years ago. The director told me they assigned an intern (that’s right, an intern) to collect brand mentions and add them to a list on an Excel spreadsheet. This was a pharmaceutical company and, due to their nearly non-existent monitoring efforts, the company discovered they were in hot water with the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration for my many non-US readers). If they had been proactive in monitoring consumer complaints, they might have headed them off before they reached the point where the FDA felt they had to step in.

Thus, monitoring and responding to issues is the key element in protecting your reputation. But, where do you focus your monitoring efforts, since you can’t pay attention to everything? Well, here are some places to start.

Monitor customer satisfaction

As you can see, customer reviews are a major driver in making a purchase, with 87% of consumers citing reviews as an influencer of their purchase decisions. That’s the biggest factor influencing a purchase, according to this study by KIBO.

digital influence on purchase decisions
Image courtesy of Digital Marketing Community

But, effectively driving product reviews starts before the review itself and attempting to quelch poor reviews can easily backfire to worsen your business reputation. So, where to start?

At the beginning, of course. You work to improve customer satisfaction so customers post positive reviews.

You ensure customer satisfaction not by putting your thumb on the scale to ask questions about customer satisfaction that lead to the answer you want. According to the Harvard Business Review, there are 10 ways to improve customer satisfaction. Among the ways to improve customer satisfaction are the following:

  • Understand what customers want
  • Deliver value and solve customer problems
  • Ask for feedback rather than attempting to quelch it
  • Respond quickly to complaints and be transparent
  • Be empathetic rather than making excuses for your failures
  • Fix problems identified quickly so they don’t reoccur

Of course, even satisfied customers often fail to post a review. In fact, dissatisfied customers are much more likely (10X) to provide a scathing review than are satisfied customers to tout your performance. Rather than attempt to hide your poor reviews, which never works in the long run, solicit positive reviews from satisfied customers by offering something they value in return, even if it’s only recognition.

Treat your staff well

How you treat your staff is one of the main things that you need to work on if you are going to improve your company’s reputation. You might actually be surprised at how far word travels when it comes to the treatment of your staff, in fact. At the very least, you need to pay your people what they’re worth and make sure that they are all treated fairly. Monitoring employee satisfaction, thus, is a big part of maintaining a good reputation.

Not only do satisfied employees say nice things about your brand, which supports your reputation, but they also work more effectively, which improves customer satisfaction. Satisfied employees also help attract first-rate new employees and are less likely to leave. This means the quality of your staff continues to improve, thus improving customer satisfaction and your reputation.

Treating employees well is also a hallmark of social responsibility, which drives purchase intentions, as you can see below.

corporate social responsibility
Image courtesy of Customer Insight Group

Eco concerns

These days, the environment is one of the main concerns that many people have, and most people want to actually support businesses that are doing their part to protect the environment. You can refer to the image above, which encompasses this type of value as it impacts customer purchase decisions. It’s therefore really important that you do everything you can as a business to take care of the environment, such as reducing your business waste, switching to clean energy, and supporting candidates who stand for environmental protection. As long as you manage to do that, you’re much more likely to have a good reputation and one that lasts a long time into the future as well.

Ensure adequate health & safety

You also need to ensure you offer superior health and safety to staff, partners, and customers because poor performance in these areas easily damages your reputation as well as leads to legal problems that are costly. Maintaining a healthy and safe environment includes training staff on proper procedures, as well as finding a decent safety supply for any equipment you might need.

For instance, Ford spent decades rebuilding its reputation after a memo appeared regarding the Ford Pinto. You see, the Pinto burst into flames very readily if hit from the rear. In the memo, Ford estimated the cost of wrongful death lawsuits was less than the cost of fixing all the Pintos on the road. Not only did this damage their reputation, it also led to the formation of the Consumer Product Safety Board, which imposed more stringent rules and inspections for a host of products that increased the cost of compliance and purchase prices.

Fair marketing practices

People also expect companies to engage in fair marketing practices. Managing your business reputation means you must keep the promises you make (even ones you infer) by delivering on those promises.

ethics in digital marketing
Image courtesy of Social Media Explorer

You might fool some people once by overpromising but, in the end, you hurt your brand and it’s a slow death from there. Also, consumers find certain practices are deceptive, such as:

  • bait and switch (where you promise a low-priced product but upsell to a higher-priced one during the sales process)
  • saying something was made in the USA (or another country) when, in fact, parts were made outside the US. Walmart got into hot water over this a few years ago.
  • untenable or unclear return policies
  • not honoring warranties
  • false statements about the product
  • deceptive prize notifications for instance awarding a prize but requiring winners to pay a few for shipping or other fees that approximate the selling price

Managing your reputation

Managing your business reputation is a serious matter as damage to your reputation is hard to overcome or turn around. It takes years, maybe decades. Better to do the “right” things from the beginning. In today’s post, we shared common areas of concern for your reputation so you could develop policies to protect your reputation.

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