The reputation of a business is essential to its survival, but how do you create a positive reputation?
While intangible, having a good reputation can benefit a business in a multitude of ways including consumer preference, support for an organisation in times of crisis or controversy, and business value.
If an organisation has an excellent reputation; consumers have a preference for that company, it can enable a company to differentiate in highly competitive markets, allows for premium pricing, and can become the ultimate factor in whether a customer decides to choose one brand over another.
In my experience, there are ten components to reputation measurement:
- Ethics: behave ethically, be admirable, worthy of respect, and trustworthy
- Employees/workplace: have talented employees and treat your people well and have an appealing environment.
- Financial performance: be financially stable and profitable with growth prospects
- Leadership: be a leader and innovative
- Management: the business has a high-quality management team with a clear vision
- Social responsibility: recognise your social responsibilities and support good causes
- Customer focus: cares about and be strongly committed to customers
- Quality: offer high-quality products/services
- Reliability: stand behind products/services, and provides consistent service
- Emotional appeal: make consumers feel good
Knowing this, entrepreneurs looking to build reputation can do so in many ways:
- Establish trust: keep your word no matter what
- Be responsive: return calls and emails promptly
- Resolve mistakes: never make excuses or place blame on the client if an issue is the fault of the company
- Offer value: provide free services to loyal customers and pay attention to details and their preferences
- Become tech savvy: proficiency in technology is critical to being perceived as a competent and capable business
- Communicate efficiently and transparently: any correspondence should be direct and to the point. Check spelling/grammar and provide contact information
- Maintain a professional website: having a clean, up-to-date website is essential for any business
- Community service: generosity to local non-profit organisations can go a long way toward building and establishing a reputation
Before social media, businesses relied on word-of-mouth and campaigns by public relations and marketing professionals. But today, maintaining reputation through social media takes time and requires careful management. As an entrepreneur, you can establish a reputation by:
Assigning responsibility: as a leader, you must brief and trust someone to become the ‘voice’ of the organisation on social media.
Be responsive: the lack of a well-crafted, well-meaning response could cost you. Social media has given customers multiple options to voice their opinions. Taking ownership of your social media sites gives you the control you need to manage conversations and respond to feedback.
Establish your online reputation: when a potential customer searches online for your brand, your business should be on the first page. Creating a strong online presence is essential for an organisation to establish its brand and maintain its reputation.
Monitor conversations: use monitoring tools to find out what feedback your company is receiving; this is also a time-saver for the person in charge of social media content.
The reputation of a business depends on many factors, but being transparent, trustworthy and responsive are essential to the survival of any company. While an intangible asset, maintaining a positive reputation is fundamental to profitability, relevance, and existence of your business. Bad word-of-mouth, lack of response to a crisis, and lack of transparency can rapidly decimate the reputation of a company, so it is essential that entrepreneurs be steadfast in maintaining goodwill to their stakeholders.