Going the extra mile. Building familiarity and trust. And responding well when things go wrong.
Here are three excellent tips to building a good reputation as a business. And each is personified by experiences shared from three real small businesses – in this neat piece from The Telegraph.
First up is Luke Hughes, Founder of Origym.
‘I’m a firm believer in offering free advice before you charge customers for anything’, he says. ‘Not free products, but a gesture as small as demonstrating how best to use a piece of [gym] equipment has worked well for us.’
The message is: our service ‘isn’t all about selling’, says the piece.
On the other hand, you do want to compound the hopefully ‘lasting impression’ – and Luke Hughes recommends asking customers ‘to leave reviews or testimonials’, says The Telegraph.
‘I sometimes ask for a bit of written feedback’, he says, ‘and with their permission, post it on my social media’.
Think quality, is his overriding message: and ‘give customers a reason to promote your business’.
Siobhan Gatenby, Co-Owner of CoCo North, believes building familiarity builds trust.
‘Our team are our brand and are collectively known as The CoCoettes,’ she says, ‘which we display across all of our social media marketing’.
Her idea is, ‘make it so that customers feel like they know your employees before even meeting them’, says The Telegraph – and they ‘regularly post short ‘meet the CoCoettes’ videos on Instagram’, explains Siobhan Gatenby.
It’s about a personal service, in part – and has led to a 25 per cent increase in first-time custom ‘since implementing the social media strategy last year’, says the piece.
‘Not only will your brand be associated with being friendly and approachable, but it also showcases your team’s credibility, which is another good reputational trait.’
Things will go wrong. For every business. Sometimes.
The trick is, ‘when this happens, don’t get defensive’.
That’s the advice of the third entrepreneur featured in The Telegraph piece, Nelson Sivalingam, Founder of HowNow.
‘If you get a bad review or complaint on a public online forum,’ says the piece, ‘first acknowledge the feedback and reassure the customer that you’re dealing with it as a priority.’
Turn the problem into an opportunity to showcase a good response, is the suggestion.
‘Ask for a better way to contact the person and follow up’, says Nelson Sivalingam, ‘– and if you made a mistake, put your hands up and own it. This builds trust, humanises the company and demonstrates that you value each and every customer and take feedback seriously.’
Also, once you’ve dealt with the problem, why not thank the complainant publicly? And share what you did about it?
‘Doing this shows that you care and reinforces trust, which is integral to building a good brand reputation,’ suggests Nelson Sivalingam.
Which is, of course, the overall point. Communicate, build bridges, be approachable. Take each interaction seriously, and show up publicly as the kind of brand you wish to be.
Your small-business reputation has to be worth it