This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
Reputation management is something we all see in the media every time a celebrity is arrested for some offense or another. It is sometimes referred to as a spin. The point is reputation management for celebrities and businesses alike is important and should occur prior to something bad happening. The last thing a company needs is a business news headline with their reputation called into question. There are ways to manage your reputation and ethics do play a part in the process.
One could make the argument that the best reputation management strategy is to never develop a bad reputation in the first place. To work hard, treat people fairly, and produce a quality product. But what happens when you are doing all that and negatives still surface? After all, you can’t possibly please everyone every time you deal with them. This is where Online Reputation Management (ORM) comes into play.
ORM is simply managing what is said about you and your business online. Review sites such as Yelp, offer people a platform to voice their opinions and experiences that is largely a free-for-all. I can log into Yelp, for example, and say whatever I want about a business and until it is proven otherwise there is no refuting it. Here are ways to contend with those instances when they happen.
- Practice good customer service. Good customer service experiences will spread just as fast as bad ones. A company developing a reputation for outstanding customer service will soon reap the rewards of those efforts. A bad customer service experience is surely bound for immortality on the internet, so keep your customer service at top levels.
- Produce a quality product. Quality products please customers and they will pay more when the products are quality. People who are pleased with their products will gladly give feedback and return as customers. They will also happily refer their family and friends.
- Hire firms. Hiring a PR or ORM firm can take a lot of the pressure off of you. These firms exist to build up the reputations of their clients. These services can seem costly but will prove their worth in the long run.
- Do not write fake reviews. Consumers today are savvy and are gaining experience all the time. Customers who spend a lot of time online can quickly spot a fake review. If word gets out that you are writing fake reviews for yourself you have done damage to your reputation that could prove irreparable.
Our information driven society has made people more powerful and given them a stronger voice like no other time in history. People once relied on the Better Business Bureau to manage the quality of businesses and ensure they were doing business with reputable companies. Websites such as Yelp have grown in popularity and there is no indication that will slow. People now turn to those websites to make decisions on who they will give their money too. Manage your online reputation and handle negatives as they arise. In doing this you will surely see your business grow and flourish.