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Don’t Just Add Reputation Management to Your To Do List: Do These Tasks Today to Improve Your Business Reputation

Is reputation management one of those things on your “I’ll get around to it someday” to do list? That’s a mistake. Sure, your intentions are good, but your execution? It could use some work.

Why? Your customers are researching your reputation right now. According to GE Capital Retail Bank’s Annual Shopper Study, 81% of customers research online before making a purchase. They’re doing that today. Not next week or in six months when you finally have the time to get around to it.

If you’ve been putting off reputation management, there’s good news. Getting started doesn’t have to be a massive effort. There are simple several things you can do right now to improve your reputation, and they’ll pay off both now and in the future. Hit pause on whatever you’re doing, and carve out a few hours of time today to take these steps to improve your business reputation:

  1. Claim your business identity: If you don’t, someone else might. Make sure that your business is in control of all social media with your name on it, whether you plan to use it or not. Use username search tool KnowEm to identify all social media, domains, and other online properties with your name. You can also use this tool to claim your business name on networks you haven’t signed up with yet. Take it a step further: Identify the top three properties that offer the best exposure for your brand, and create an active community with business updates and interactions with customers.
  2. Assess your top 10 Google results: You could spend days, weeks looking at everything Google has to say about your business. But countless studies tell us that only the top positions really matter. If you’re short on time and effort, focus your attention on that crucial first set of search engine results. Are they flattering? If they aren’t, is there anything you can do about it? You may be able to have embarrassing content removed by the owner, or even ask Google to do it. Take it a step further: Ideally, you should be in control of the top search engine results for your domain name. They should be within your business domain name and social media profiles. The best way to control these results is by taking the time to build a robust website according to Google recommendations and by actively participating on social media accounts.
  3. Address negative reviews: If you have negative reviews floating around, don’t let them go unchecked. Find the most damaging ones and take the time to craft a positive response. It’s important to share your side of the story, but remember that what you say is a reflection of your business. Take a deep breath before you write. Be polite, apologetic, thank the customer for their business, and demonstrate a willingness to make things right. Avoid being condescending or fake. Genuinely address the situation in a professional way. Take it a step further: Directly contact the customer and offer a resolution. Assess the feedback they’ve given you, and consider what you can do better next time. After you’ve improved their perception of your business, request that they revise their review.
  4. Join a reputation boosting organization: Becoming a part of your local chamber of commerce, reputable trade organization, or accrediting board can greatly increase your company’s credibility and reputation. This may not happen in a day, but identifying and contacting these organizations is a big first step toward a great reputation. Take it a step further: Complete the necessary steps to become a member of the organization. Attend meetings and contribute to the network within the community.
  5. Go above and beyond for your customers: If you want a great reputation, the best way to get one is to earn it. Have you done anything to go above and beyond for your customers? A nice gesture, large or small, tells your customers that you value their business. Add a little something extra to your next order, or personally call a customer to find out how their experience was. Say thank you, and mean it! Take it a step further: Donate to a worthy cause. It feels great, and it shows your community that you care enough to give back.
  6. Ask for reviews: Reviews are a major part of your online reputation, and the easiest way to get them is simply to ask for them. Reach out to your 10 most recent happy customers, and just ask. Let them know that your business depends on reviews and referrals, and that you’d really appreciate their feedback. Adding just one more positive review can greatly improve how potential customers perceive your business. Take it a step further: Create a process for encouraging positive reviews. Identify who will ask for the review, and when you’ll request the review from the customer. Developing a streamlined review process can add up to hundreds of positive reviews and a highly effective online reputation.

Reputation management is an ongoing process that requires businesses to be vigilant about their online reputation. But getting started and setting a good foundation doesn’t have to be an exhaustive process. Even just a few quick steps can make a difference in the online reputation of your business today. Don’t wait to do it — your customers won’t!