Small businesses are great. They’re good for the economy; employing local people and keeping wealth within their local communities. Unlike the bigger corporate titans, they pay their taxes and don’t squirrel their wealth in holding accounts in tax havens like the Cayman Islands. People like small businesses… At least in theory. They like their emphasis on customer service and their ethical operational practices. Yet, when the big multinationals can undercut them on price, it doesn’t take much to push consumers back into the arms of the cheaper bigger businesses. In order to achieve success as a small business, it’s imperative that your reputation remains unimpeachable.
Your reputation is what helps you to stand head and shoulders above your competitors and builds real value in your brand. However, to keep your reputation squeaky clean you’ll need to keep an ever-watchful eye out for these common barriers to a sterling reputation.
Your employees are often your customers’ first point of contact with your business. Their interactions will play a huge part in determining how customers perceive your enterprise. Of course, if customers are rude or brusque with customers you’ll never see them again… But few employees ever lack the self-awareness to lose their tempers in front of a customer.
However, employees who seem bored, tired, distracted or otherwise unengaged can also be damaging to your reputation. When you take the time to create an engaged workforce you can rest assured that your employees will be great ambassadors for your brand and your reputation will be safe in their hands.
The Yelp filter
Customer reviews on platforms like Yelp may not carry the same clout in terms of SEO that they once did, but they remain pretty much the best form of social proof out there, legitimizing your business, your products and / or services in the eyes of prospective customers.
Thus, it can be extremely frustrating when legitimate positive customer reviews get stuck in the Yelp Filter. Fortunately these reviews can be freed with a little know-how and determination of what got them stuck in the filter in the first place.
Complaints on social media
Complaints offer you valuable customer insights and opportunities to improve your processes and practices… But of course it really doesn’t feel that way when we receive them. Customer complaints on social media are rarely welcome but they are nonetheless valuable… And sticking your head in the sand can lead to damage to your reputation.
Respond to social media complaints in a timely and decisive manner. Be apologetic but place your emphasis squarely on finding a solution that is satisfactory to the customer.
When users can see that you have made a genuine effort to resolve a complaint this can also be an excellent form of social proof.
Low quality content
Finally, while content marketing is a valuable component of your brand identity and helps to establish you as a leading mind in your field, it’s up to you to ensure that your content is befitting of your brand.
However, some businesses can be tempted to skimp on the quality of their content in order to publish regularly and boost their SEO. Low quality content outsourced from a low cost overseas content farm can be damaging to your reputation and rob you of the social proof you’ve worked so hard to earn!
Remove the barriers to your sterling reputation and you’ll enjoy a long and prosperous relationship with loyal repeat customers!