After spending years sculpting your brand and building a solid customer base, it’s easy to feel like you’ve reached the point where the hard legwork is done and the time has come to sit back and cruise. But don’t get lazy and let your reputation slip! Once you’ve established a foundation and found your place in the market, it’s time to really start thinking about managing your brand’s reputation.
A lot of factors go into building a reputation from the start—from building relationships with clients to making your brand worthy of customer loyalty. That reputation-building is what got you to this point in the first place. But maintaining that position takes some work, especially given the rapid pace at which information now moves online.
What are they saying online?
Marketing begins with getting people’s attention. Advertisements and promotions are designed to get people interested in your brand and curious about the services it provides. Getting someone’s attention is only the first step.
Recent surveys show that more than 80 percent of people research a company online before deciding whether to use its services. That means many people are going to online resources such as consumer ratings websites to see what others think about brands before making a decision.
A Neilson survey found that 70 percent of people who read online reviews trust them, meaning that your online reputation is more important than ever.
Keep the ratings up: consistency, timeliness, and follow-up
So how do you keep the reviews positive? Meet and exceed customer expectations! When new people come to your brand with high expectations, especially in the service sector, don’t let them down.
Provide everything you promised in your marketing material, and make sure you do it all on time. One of the biggest complaints I see online is speed of service. Delays and missed deadlines can be a deal-breaker for repeat business, and you better believe others will hear about it online.
When a customer has a bad experience with your brand—and this happens to everyone—make sure to follow up. Engage the negative feedback and be honest in your intentions to learn from the situation and correct it. While this won’t make the incident magically go away, it demonstrates to your customers that you care about their experiences and care about their relationship with your brand.
Word of mouth is still important
While online reviews have become a powerhouse in influencing reputations, personal recommendations are still king. What someone can learn from a friend or a colleague about a brand has a far greater impact on that person’s decision than any online review site or marketing campaign.
That is why it is important to maintain those relationships you have already worked hard to build. Appreciating and looking after the customers you already have will not only help you build loyalty, but it can be a stepping stone to new leads and new business.