My personal and business reputation are a critical component of the success of my business. Being viewed favorably and being publicly recognized for achievement goes a long way in the very competitive industry that I am in, commercial printing. I’ve had my business for 14 years and it took ample time and effort to build my reputation, but it has been well worth it. Building and maintaining your reputation is a combination of personal actions and business policies.
Have a mindset of helping others. Make introductions for people. Share your knowledge, experience and advise. Give referrals. Help others reach their goals. Make others look good.
Establish trust. Keeping your word, no matter what, in terms of providing services, paying vendors when they are due, and keeping promises to customers – all these will help solidify and build credibility with customers.
Go beyond what’s expected or requested. Make suggestions that the client may not have considered. Include some unexpected service or item at no cost. When a frustrated customer calls, offer to make it right before they ask you to.
Be responsive. Return calls and answer emails promptly, letting the customer know they are important to you and your organization.
Act quickly when it comes to customer complaints. When a customer comes to you with a concern, make the time to talk to them directly and listen. Never make excuses or place blame on the customer if it is an issue that is the fault of you or your company. Make an effort to resolve errors or mistakes as quickly as possible.
Treat every customer fairly. Everyone will come across an angry customer at some time. Regardless of their demeanor, remember to reply calmly, politely and clearly.
Offer value. Offering specials to loyal customers and paying attention to details and preferences of the customer can go a long way.
Be transparent. Communication with customers should be direct and to the point. Keep customers apprised of the status of their job. If there is a delay or a problem, let them know immediately.
Act with integrity. Even a small act of selfishness, greed or jealously can have a serious negative impact on your business. Don’t promise something that you cannot deliver.
Set expectations. Let your customers know what they can expect regarding the process, the deliverables, customer support, etc. so there are no surprises. It is amazing how far setting expectations goes toward building good customer relationships.
Ask for and respond to feedback. Stay on top of what your customers think about your products and services through social media, surveys or by just asking them. Respond quickly to negative feedback including how the issue has been addressed.
Give back to the community. Volunteer regularly, sponsor events, or be a mentor. Your involvement builds your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person.