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Reputation management is one of the most important areas marketers have to manage.  Unfortunately, most organizations fall into one of two camps when it comes to maintaining their reputation – they either think it’s just an outgrowth of their day-to-day (i.e. they have no control over it) or they freak out when they have negative issues come up. Both are terrible ways to guard one of your most important assets, so let’s dive into what makes for good reputation management.

The first step is doing the things that set the foundation for a good reputation. If you don’t have a specific concept of customer service or a preferred customer experience you need to take the time to develop that by looking at the companies you admire, emulating their best qualities and applying them to your business model. A defined set of service principles will give your organization the direction and specificity it needs to create positive customer experiences.

The next thing to do is to make sure that you are creating a feedback loop for your customers.  Whether it’s an online form, a follow-up call, or the old comment box by the register, you need to make it easy for them to provide feedback. Burying your head in the sand about your business will only lead to bad things. The feedback, whether good or bad, is fine – not getting any means you have no idea what’s going on.  You may not like the bad but it will make you better and you would rather fix the problem early rather than when it becomes pervasive.

You also need to highlight the positive and deal with the negative.  If you’re lucky enough to have a lot of five-star ratings make sure that’s highlighted in your marketing, but in today’s online culture how you deal with the negative comments is just as important. You need to steer into the negative, understand what happened and do your best to publicly remedy the situation.  

Current and future customers will notice that effort and hold it in your favor. People today look at the totality of reviews as much as the comments of a few crackpots. Some issues you just can’t fix, but if the positive experiences with your firm significantly outweigh the negative ones you are well on your way to effective reputation management.

Finally, make sure you are incorporating changes based on the feedback you get. It may make sense to have a quarterly customer satisfaction meeting to take all the comments and see if there are any trends that need attention – both good and bad. You can make a positive impact over time if you do the things that highlight the successes and address the failures.

Make sure you are taking an active role in managing your reputation. With a few basic steps you can not only improve the perception of your business but truly tune in to the voice of the customer.

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