Reputation can make and break a business. I was recently speaking with a colleague about the importance of standing by solid values and basing decisions around those moral foundations. I explained that for me, integrity and honesty are my number one values, so was very touched when she replied, “Well, that is obvious. I can see the bubble of integrity surrounding you in everything you do.” To me, that was the greatest compliment I could ever receive.
If a couple of your clients bumped into each other in the supermarket, do you know what they would say about you? Would they say how trustworthy, reliable and honest you are, that you always follow through with your word and go above and beyond what is expected? Or would they be talking about the times you let them down, or that your service was underwhelming? Sometimes the way others perceive you, is not the same as you perceive yourself.
Here are a few of my tips to positively build your reputation:
A positive reflection of your business is when people refer you to their friends with confidence. The best referrals come from your ‘raving fans’ – these are the people that know you the most, i.e. your team at work and your loyal customers who have used your product or service for years. If you focus energy and attention on looking after these people first, you’ll get a great return by way of a good reputation. Because your raving fans like you and trust you, they’ll be happy to refer business to you and we all know that the conversation rate of a referral is always much higher than a cold lead. I know myself that if a friend refers me to a business they have used and trust, I generally won’t even bother ringing around for other quotes because of that trust.
If you’re not sure what people think of you and your business, a good place to start is by asking your current clients why they deal with you and checking out any online reviews which are a huge factor when it comes to reputation; it’s so easy to Google a business and see what people are saying about them.
A great deal of your marketing derives from word of mouth, so it’s important to reflect on whether that word is positive or negative. People generally only share when they’ve had an extraordinary experience; better than expected, or super disappointed. A quick way to disappoint people is over promising and under delivering; it could be that you’re always late, turn up to a meeting unprofessional, or maybe you never pay your bills on time. If, on the other hand, you’re always providing exceptional customer service and over delivering to your customers, you’ll ‘wow’ them instead of disappointing them.
There will always be people who, no matter what you do or what you say, will simply not be a fan of yours. However, if you treat every person with kindness and respect, and provide a wonderful service to those who know and trust you, then it will be hard for even the non-admirers to say a bad word about you. If you focus your energy on the people who support you and your business, who love you fiercely, they’re the ones who will drown out the word of any naysayers. You’ll have so many positive reviews that there won’t be any substance given to a few negative nellies.
Reputation and leadership are very integrated, as a good reputation is based on good leadership skills and values and ethics. A good leader is clear about their values and what is important to them, basing their lives on them, so that regardless of who they are dealing with – be it a prospect, top client, team members, the postman or telemarketer – everyone is treated with the same respect and integrity. The most congruent way to improve your reputation is to be true to your word, not let people down, and create a plan around what small steps you can make to improve the way you portray yourself to others.
Slowly but surely, if you are consistent with your values and follow through in your actions, your reputation will improve and the flow-on effect will reward you and your business in the long run.
This article by Suzzanne Laidlaw is reproduced with the permission of Flying Solo – Australia’s micro business community. Find out more and join over 100K others https://www.flyingsolo.com.au/join.