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Guide to Building a Business Reputation

The importance of reputation is such that a business and its stature are often indistinguishable. Companies of all sizes have paid a high price for failing to manage their reputation: from the Royal Bank of Scotland (which lost more than £5m due to reputation mismanagement) to recent incidents with United Airlines, which costed the company $1.4bn in the stock market, it is clear that a building and maintaining flawless reputation is essential to business success.

Reputation building is a complex process that takes time, but can cover your bases by working on five of the most important things you can do to build a fine business reputation.

1. Develop a Sense of Community

No business can survive in isolation. This is especially true in the digital era, where interconnectedness and a sense of community are strong drivers of growth and success. For business owners looking to build a great reputation, this means you must do things in the community and for the community. This could include everything from attending networking events relevant to your sector to getting your name out into the local community by sponsoring sports or charitable events.

2. Get the Press on Your Side

A positive relationship with the media will give your business more exposure. To achieve this, you will have to find out which journalists have a special interest in your field and be proactive when contacting them, having a wealth of material and engaging information ready. You can start with local newspapers or radio stations, write relevant press releases when your company reaches a significant milestone, or share positive stories about your business and its involvement with the local community.

3. Responding To Feedback

Handling negative feedback and customer complaints are two crucial aspects of reputation building. You should address negative feedback as soon as it is practically possible, and depending on the nature of the complaint, it makes sense to have a senior manager or even the business owner to personally deal with it. It is also important to avoid defensiveness and to focus on listening to the customer and validating their feelings. Lastly, offer a sincere apology and try to find ways to remedy the situation. Don’t forget to ask customer’s input on this, instead of assuming that a certain solution will work.

The four-step process known as CARP can guide you through this:

1. Control

2. Acknowledge

3. Refocus

4. Problem solve


4. Social Media Use

Social media can be a double-edged sword when it comes to reputation building. Generally speaking, the key to building a strong reputation online is to ensure your digital presence reflects your values and offers existing and potential customers valuable and useful content. All businesses should have a carefully drafted social media policy in place, and clear guidelines on what kind of content can and can’t be associated with them. It is also worth developing an employee advocacy scheme to turn staff into your most valuable online asset, and to use analytics and other digital tools (such as Google Alerts or Social Mention) to gain insights into how your brand is perceived and respond accordingly.

5. Better Safe than Sorry

Security breaches and cyber-attacks have targeted government organisations and large multinationals, but small business are not immune to them, as nearly 40 per cent of UK SMEs suffered a security breach during 2016. Such events cause significant damage to trust levels, and require a great deal of work to restoring the trustworthiness of a brand, so it is easier to be proactive and prevent this type of incidents by paying attention to the following:

- Don’t cut corners on IT or security, as the cost will be much higher if you become a target of cyber criminals

- Implement official standards like Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus

- Ensure staff with access to confidential data are property trained and vetted. The same applies to contractors

- Encrypt your data and any information pertaining to your customers

- Implement a usage policy for mobile and portable media device usage in the workplace

- Audit your IT security policies regularly

- Have a critical response or contingency plan in place













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