Word of mouth is all in an online world, says reputation manager Igniyite
In today’s business world, reputation is everything. What people think about your company – from products and services to the way it operates – either opens doors, or it closes them. Which is why creating and maintaining a strong company profile online has never been more important.
Research from reputation management company Igniyte reveals the very real danger of ignoring this potentially thorny issue.
We found that one in three UK businesses now feel negative content is causing them real damage.
One in 20 of those questioned for the 2018 survey went on to reveal that this type of content has already cost them more than £500,000.
Bad press followed by poor reviews and social media posts were the most damaging threats.
So how do you go about building a robust reputation that will help your business grow and prosper and stay ahead of competitors?
Go the extra mile
Good, old-fashioned customer service never goes out of fashion – or unnoticed. Retail giants like Amazon and John Lewis have built world-respected brands on unbeatable client care – and it pays. As they have found, if you treat your clients well they will come back for more – and hopefully enhance your company reputation by leaving you great feedback and reviews.
Act quickly, be transparent
When problems do arise, it can be tempting to ignore them and hope they’ll go away. But when customers feel neglected they may take to the internet – review sites or social media – to vent their fury, creating you even more problems.
Always respond to customer issues quickly and fairly. If you’re in the wrong, apologise and put things right, without being prompted.
When KFC ran out of chicken early in 2018, it apologised quickly and explained what had happened. It knew the usual type of corporate apology wouldn’t cut it with its customers. KFC went the extra mile, taking out full-page ads in two major daily newspapers expressing what company execs, franchise owners and customers were feeling and poking fun at it. Its cheeky response to a chicken shortage (FCK ads) turned an embarrassing crisis into a public relations win and, because it talked to them in their language and was heartfelt about the apology, its reputation recovered quickly.
Keep your promises
Trust is an important part of any customer journey. So, if you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do it and do it well.
If you’re online retailer ASOS and you’re confident you can keep to that same day or 24-hour delivery pledge, then great. If you can’t make the deadline every time, then you need to think again.
Failing to deliver and breaking promises will drive your customers up the wall and they won’t hesitate to tell the world about their disappointment.
Trust matters. According to Edelman, 64 per cent of people trust online search engines most when conducting research on a business, so it pays to ensure that what you say you will do is backed up by the actual customer experience reported in reviews.
A recent BrightLocal consumer survey found that:
- 97 per cent of consumers search online for local businesses, 12 per cent do it daily.
- 90 per cent of people read online reviews before visiting a business.
- 85 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Get your branding right
Your branding defines the way the world sees you and your services, so it’s important to get it right.
Think carefully about how you want to be perceived and, if necessary, enlist the help of a branding company and reputation experts to set you up for success. You may need to register details or check copyright and other legal avenues for any logos and images you plan to use. You’ll also want to get the right online profile, and ensure consistency.
Give something back
Brands are part of the communities they operate and work in, and an easy way to showcase your values is by embracing a sense of corporate social responsibility.
There will always be local and national charities who need a helping hand. By offering practical and/or financial help you can show your community how much you care, engage with new audiences and enhance your company reputation.
This type of work has the potential to create positive PR for your brand too, so make sure you tell relevant media about what you are doing. Employees also love to give back – get them involved too.
Successful brands are trustworthy and relatable so dialling up your human side is always a good move. Customers are less likely to spend with what they perceive to be faceless or corporate organisations, preferring those they perceive to be more “human.”
Developing a friendly, genuine tone of voice for your marketing and communications is a good first step. When it comes to social media, speak to people as individuals, using humour and honesty to create real conversations. Brands like Dominos, Ocado and Innocent have won plaudits for their light-hearted but fast and efficient responses on Twitter.
In fact, likeability is huge – 70 per cent of consumers surveyed by Weber Shandwick said they would avoid buying a product if they didn’t like the company behind it.
Be a great employer
Your employees are one of your greatest assets, right? So, make sure you treat them well and they will help enhance your company reputation for you.
There are a growing number of sites like Glassdoor that invite workers to rate their companies. They give people more chances than ever to shout about good and bad employers and contribute to your company’s excellent reputation.
Create a standout digital presence
With so much of our personal and professional business conducted online, it’s important to have a clear digital strategy in place.
Creating and managing online assets can be a big task and monitoring and updating are both important. Consider delegating responsibility to one person in your team and carry out regular digital audits to spot potential problems as early as possible.
Be an industry player
Fostering growth and innovation in your industry can enhance your company reputation among your peers and beyond. Joining relevant on and offline networks, including LinkedIn and trade bodies, attending industry events and sharing expertise can all play their part.
Extend your influence
By partnering with trusted suppliers and influencers to enhance your company reputation.
Tap into your own personal and professional networks to help refine and share messages about who you are and what you are doing. Amplifying your reputation in this way can help you extend your reach beyond the local and even access global and other clients.
Grow your business sustainably
Doing business “nicely” is something we all aspire to, and something that will help your business develop a good reputation score.
Think about how you can grow your business using sustainable development principles. Contribute positively to your community and create more opportunities for those around you, while addressing major problems like climate change, waste and inequality.
In recent years, major players such as Walmart, Starbucks and Ford have made public declarations on how they are reducing their environmental impact.