Reputation may be the single most important factor differentiating your small business from everyone else in your field.
An excellent reputation can be what propels an organization to grow. A negative reputation may be what causes it to crumble. For competitive industries, especially, what’s being said about your small business is the key to having customers choose your services over another company.
That’s mainly because, right now, customers are better informed and, potentially, more cautious than ever. Search results and online reviews continue to influence purchasing decisions. Plus, as the pandemic rolls on, customers are placing a higher priority on small businesses they can trust. This is particularly true for services that need to be performed in their homes.
The better your reputation is in those areas, the easier it is for customers to know they can count on your small business. So, how do you build, maintain, and then leverage a strong reputation? Here are solid first steps to help get you there.
Manage your reviews and comments.
Your credibility is directly linked to online comments made about your business. It makes sense, then, to keep a close eye on what’s being shared.
Review sites that list your business – Google, Yelp, and BBB.org, for starters – should be your primary focus for managing that feedback. By responding to reviews and comments made on those platforms, you have an opportunity to directly address complaints. You can also spotlight customer praise of your team.
How you approach responding to reviews and comments should be well thought out, too. Make sure any reply you share is friendly, professional, and sets a realistic expectation for whatever steps come next. Try not to restate company policies or provide vague solutions.
But maybe most important is that your responses are honest. If you want customers to trust you, you must be seen as genuine. The strongest reputations are authentic.
How easily and effectively you can do that, though, may depend on the site you’re using. Unlike other directories, BBB fully vets reviews and complaints it receives to ensure an actual interaction occurred between the business and the consumer. Those safeguards help ensure that what customers see reflects reality.
Take care of your team.
Managing your reputation isn’t only about keeping customers on your side. Employees who have a positive impression of their workplace can often be a business’s biggest advocate.
In fact, for some companies, their employees may double as their customers. There’s an even likelier chance you have employees who have close relationships with individuals who use your products or services.
If you’re taking steps to support your workforce, those actions tend to impact how customers view your business. Employees who believe their employer company has their best interests in mind likely share those feelings publicly. When that type of word gets out, it can travel quickly.
Your employees holding a positive impression of your business goes hand-in-hand with developing an empowering workplace culture. Offering benefits that make your team feel appreciated can go a long way toward solidifying your reputation within those stakeholders, too.
Collaborate with your customers.
Get proactive. Calling on customers to endorse your products and services can net your business significant reputational rewards.
One of the easiest ways to recruit that support is to ask for reviews. Anywhere you do business online, include a link for customers to share their experience. BBB Accredited Businesses have exclusive access to a “Submit A Review” seal that can be embedded onto a website and links directly to their BBB profile.
Similarly, engaging with followers on your social channels can produce authentic, customer-penned recommendations, too. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – make sure you’re connecting on whichever social platforms your business has a presence on. When done well, your content may get shared by customers using their personal accounts.
Reputation is critical to any business hoping to stick out among its competition and developing a strong one doesn’t happen without work. Responding to reviews, supporting your workforce, and engaging online with customers are three steps you can take to shape your operation’s perceptions. Consistent work on these three steps will help more customers know what makes your business different.
What is your business doing to build its reputation? Leave a comment telling us how your team makes a positive impression with customers.