This evening I took part in an interesting small business Twitterchat which this week was discussing how to deal with attacks on your reputation. Every Tuesday night at 9pm (BST) an increasing group of small companies and individuals in business get together to share good ideas and knowledge. It is well worth checking out #smallbizhour.
It was clear that there are lots of opportunities to increase reputation and tackle criticism with the growth of social media. Now more than ever people have been empowered to give direct feedback on products and services. It is vital that all businesses whether small or large are set up to keep a check on what discussions about them are taking place online. That way they can respond at an early stage.
The discussion made some interesting points but one of the most important was that you can avoid a lot of unnecessary negative comments if you are providing good customer service at the first point of contact. If you can treat every customer and interaction as an individual thing, listen to what they want and respond to feedback then you are less likely to receive criticism.
For a small business negative reviews or feedback that gets posted and shared widely on digital platforms can break them. On the positive if you get 100 per cent and great comments shared then it can give your business a huge boost. Even before social media we have seen big business go the wall over comments, damaged reputation and poor customer service. The older people reading this will remember Ratners jewellers and the comments that were the end of the business.
There are three things that are key for me for all business in considering reputation:
1. Ensure you provide good customer service and gain a positive reputation from the first point of contact
2. Keep checking what people are saying about your business and where they are saying it
3. Be prepared to step in and respond or discuss your business and make sure you prioritise listening to customer feedback in an objective way.
In these tough times small businesses need all the help possible to succeed and need to be on top of these issues.