It can take time to build a reputation. Many entrepreneurs spend very little time thinking about the reputation of their brand, and in the digital age, that can be a mistake that can’t be recovered from. Although the reputation of a business is an intangible asset, it can have a very real effect on the longevity of a company. In the increasingly connected world, your online reputation is something that can take time and work to manage, but when a bad review can follow you around for years, managing that reputation is becoming a critical component of business management. If you’re not sure why a positive digital reputation is so important for companies, here’s what you need to know.
Build Better Teams
The better your reputation, the better your workforce. Nobody wants to work for a company with a bad reputation, and the more positive your reputation, the more likely that you will attract those high-caliber job seekers that you will value. Reputation management can be such a challenging task simply because there is likely to be a lot of information about a company online and in a variety of different places. When someone starts researching a company before they make an application, a negative review on a job site will simply lead people to apply elsewhere. When attracting the top talent is so important, your positive online reputation will always precede you.
Credibility and Trust: The Key to Sales
When a consumer is spending money online, they need to trust the business that they are buying from. That’s because they will be handing over sensitive information, including bank details or payment platform info. With cybercrime a continuous threat, they need to know that you’re going to look after their data and protect their privacy. One mishandled data breach and your reputation as a safe company to buy from can be immediately harmed. That will lead to lost sales. When your reputation is positive, consumers will be happy to spend online with you. That means that you will sell more based on your intangible reputation. Invest time in building and earning consumer trust, and your business will be in a much better financial position.
Many companies pay professionals for insights about their company, but in the digital age, you can often get all of the insights you’ll ever need simply by doing some research on your online reputation. On social media alone, it is now a common sight to see negative feedback on business pages or private comments. Sometimes those bad reviews can spread, which is why monitoring and responding to those types of reviews is so critical. If a negative review is not tackled efficiently, it could:
- Lose you potential customers – People simply don’t want to buy from companies with a bad reputation. Especially those that would be finding you by using a mobile device. That’s because viewing on a mobile often lists by rating, and the worse your rating, the lower down the list you are.
- One bad review leads to two – It’s very common to see a single bad review turn into another, then another. It often feels that the first negative online mention is opening the floodgates and giving people permission to complain. Even worse for a brand is if they trigger an emotional response from a demographic based on a hot-topic. That can lead to a plethora of negative reviews, which can then lead to journalists spotting the potential for a juicy and controversial story. This kind of incident can be very hard to take control of, so engaging with every review, including the most negative, is vital.
By committing to reputation monitoring, you will be able to learn a lot about the public perception of your brand. This will give you valuable insights into your potential growth and learn more about how to make internal and external changes to the way that you run your company.
The Components of Reputation
The longer that a business has been trading for, the more time it will have had to build a reputation. For new businesses, building a reputation should be one of the key priorities. That means knowing the core components that make up a good reputation. These are generally considered as the following:
- Ethics: An ethical reputation is becoming increasingly important. Younger generations, in particular, want to be socially and politically aligned with the brands that they buy from, and an ethical stance that they disagree with will affect your reputation. Your ethical culture will be the key to establishing trust.
- Working conditions: Making sure that your workforce is talented, that they are provided with support and ongoing development, and that you are providing a safe and friendly work environment is incredibly important from both a sales perspective and a hiring perspective. Treat your people well, and your reputation will only be more positive. Treat your employees badly, however, and your online reputation will always let people know.
- Finances: Profitable companies grow, and that’s what future team members are going to look for. If a company is not making money, then there is unlikely to be a future at that company. Customers, too, will be wary of buying from a company if the online view is that the company will be out of business within the year.
- Leader or follower?: Being a thought leader in your sector is of vital importance when building a positive business reputation. It’s why so many people focus on networking online and at industry shows, and on writing sector-relevant SEO-loaded articles that show off their industry knowledge. If there’s one way to boost online reputation, it’s by focusing on leading the crowd rather than following the winners.
- Social Responsibility: When a company supports social causes and tackles its social responsibilities, then that can generate good digital buzz and a better online reputation.
- Customer service: Having a reputation for rude, impersonal, or ineffectual customer service will make it far less likely that someone will risk getting involved in a transaction. Customer service with the WOW factor will always be beneficial for your online reputation.
- Product Quality: What you sell is just as important as how you sell. If your products are below acceptable standards or are of lower quality than advertised, then backlash can be immediate and hard-hitting.
A company’s digital reputation is something intangible, and that can make it very challenging to measure, track, and manage. However, in the age of the internet where mistakes can follow you around forever, and where your online reputation plays such a large role in your potential to make more sales and grow your brand, that reputation management is more critical than ever. Take the time to develop a more thorough understanding of the power of reputation, however, and your company will only grow stronger.