More and more of us are looking for businesses online before we place orders or make calls to find out about products and services. With reviews more popular than ever and many consumers taking an active interest in brand ethos and culture, it’s crucial for companies to take steps to protect and enhance their reputations. If you’re looking to build a 5-star brand, this guide should come in useful.
Understanding legal regulations and compliance
Establishing trust between clients and businesses is vital. If you flout the rules, you’re not compliant, or customers have concerns about the way you work, this could contribute to penalties and fines and damage your reputation. Always ensure you are familiar with the latest rules and regulations and seek professional advice to draw up and enforce policies.
Provide staff training to make sure that everyone understands legislation and guidelines and the implications of falling short of expected standards and make use of tools and technology. Digital accessibility compliance should be an area of interest for most business owners, for example.
If you’re not up to speed with requirements, you can use tools and resources to identify weaknesses, resolve errors and maintain compliance. If this is an area where you need assistance or advice, you can learn how it works with AudioEye. Other key considerations include data protection and trade descriptions.
As a business owner, you should be aware of your responsibilities when marketing and promoting products for public consumption and storing and sharing personal data. It pays to have legal experts in your corner to guide you and make sure you’re up to date with policies and procedures.
If you read the newspaper or watch bulletins on the TV, it’s easy to assume that cyber-attacks only happen to large-scale corporations with millions of customers and employees. In truth, every organization is vulnerable. Cybercrime is becoming increasingly commonplace, and it can be incredibly damaging for companies of all sizes. Over 55% of cyber attacks involve small businesses, and by 2021, cybercrime is expected to cost the global economy $6 trillion.
For small businesses, any kind of attack represents a double blow. Downtime leads to a fall in sales and financial losses and breaches can also affect customer perceptions of the brand. If consumers don’t trust businesses to protect and shield sensitive data, they may look elsewhere. If you don’t have an in-house IT team, it’s beneficial to consider hiring an external agency to manage your IT systems and services for you.
IT experts can analyze your current cybersecurity strategy, identify weaknesses and make recommendations to reduce the risk of security breaches and strengthen your defences. It’s also essential to offer staff training. Employees can often be a weak link in the armour of a business when it comes to cybersecurity. Training can help individuals to identify risks and detect suspicious behaviour and it can also educate workers about the potential implications of using unsecured networks, sharing passwords or failing to adhere to company policies and guidelines.
Presenting a professional brand image
When people see your logo, your store or office front or your website homepage, or they meet one of your employees, how do you want the customer to perceive your brand? Most employers strive to ensure that customers view their brand as reliable, trustworthy, credible and professional. The way you present your business is key to shaping and influencing customer perceptions.
If your shop windows are dull, your office looks tired or unclean, your company cars are dirty or your employees turn up to meetings late, clients may form a negative first impression. It takes around 7 seconds to create a first impression, and in business, you don’t always get a second chance. There are several ways you can present a more professional front.
Examples include enforcing a dress code, prioritizing punctuality and customer service, keeping business premises clean and tidy, investing in smart, eye-catching signage and designing a slick, visually appealing website. If you’re meeting clients face to face, or you run a business, such as a shop, restaurant or a salon, always ensure every customer is greeted with a smile and don’t make them wait.
Making time for customers and offering support
Customer service has never been more influential. Consumers are no longer judging businesses and brands by the services and products they sell, but also by their experience. If you go to a restaurant, for example, and the waiting staff is rude, or you have to wait for hours to be seated and then served, your impression of the business will be negative, even if the food is incredible.
As a business owner, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of customer service, making time for clients and offering support. Implementing customer service policies is an excellent idea, and it’s also hugely beneficial to analyze feedback and to read reviews and comments from previous clients. It can be difficult to read negative feedback, but it represents an opportunity to learn.
Addressing issues can prevent similar problems arising in the future and enhance customer experience moving forward. Asking for feedback is also a fantastic way of gathering ideas and suggestions from customers and ascertaining how they feel you could improve.
Customer engagement and support are also important considerations. Nowadays, it’s easy to stay in touch with customers, and consumers want to hear from their favorite brands. Use email marketing, social media and your website to keep channels of communication open, to reach out to customers and get to know them better and to showcase the human side of your brand.
The content you create and the posts you share can provide customers and followers with a sense of what your brand is all about. Offering effective customer support can also enhance your reputation. If customers have questions or concerns, they won’t place an order, book a table or reserve a room. Using features like 24-hour live chat and social media message platforms enables you to respond to queries swiftly.
Providing staff training
Your employees often play a critical role in influencing the way customers view your brand. They can be an incredibly precious asset, but they can also let you down. Providing staff training can help to minimize risks and maximize the chances of your staff making a positive difference to your reputation. Customer service training is beneficial for front of house staff, while media management can also be useful for employees who use social media. It’s important that individuals understand how their actions could impact the reputation of the business.
If you have policies in place that govern how employees use social media, for example, this can help to prevent unwanted attention and negative press. Staff should be encouraged to keep accounts private, to avoid forming virtual friendships with clients and to keep an eye on the posts they like or share. You don’t want your business to be entangled in a media furore or for customers to have concerns about your brand culture or ethos as a result of an employee’s behaviour on social media.
Giving your business meaning and supporting good causes
Most business owners don’t just want to generate profits. They also have ambitions to make a positive difference in the world. For consumers, it’s increasingly important to buy from brands that give back or support worthy causes. Research suggests that over 70% of Americans consider a company’s charitable giving when making purchases, and 50% would switch to a business that supports nonprofits and community initiatives.
If you’re looking to enhance your brand image, consider what matters most to you, your team and your customers and look for causes or programs to support. You could donate a portion of your annual profits to a charity, you could offer opportunities for local students or unemployed residents to get involved with the business, or you could offer incentives to buy specific products by giving money to a cause every time a customer makes a purchase.
If you have a limited edition beauty product or an item of clothing for sale, for example, you could make a donation for every sale. You can choose to support animal charities and conservation work, environmental or educational projects or community schemes to boost employment and create opportunities.
Protecting the planet is a priority for many consumers. Going green is an excellent way to do your bit, to save money and reduce waste and to show customers that you care. If you’re keen to adopt more eco-friendly ways of working, consider introducing measures like green commuting programs, buying sustainable, recycled materials and supplies, switching to renewable energy and swapping gas-guzzling company cars or trucks for electric or hybrid vehicles.
Five-star reviews can make all the difference to businesses today. With more and more consumers reading reviews and taking time to find out more about brands and what they stand for, it’s vital for companies to go the extra mile to protect and enhance their reputations.
If you run a business, no matter how large or small, it’s beneficial to consider these steps carefully. Make sure your business is compliant, prioritize customer service, provide staff training, ensure your company has a professional image, give back and support good causes and make time for your customers.