Avoid these 10 mistakes that could ruin your company's reputation

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For small businesses, reputation is everything. A report recently published by O2 shows that 72% of consumers will not forgive a small business if they have a bad experience, and 67% of them will even go on to share their experience with an average of eight friends and family members. This is sometimes enough to inflict significant damage to the reputation of your company, which may eventually lead to failure.

Here are a few easily-avoidable mistakes that can cause a small business’ reputation to plummet:

  1. Making promises you can't keep, like offering a full warranty on your product without first ensuring the permanent availability of its parts, or offering to fix any error that appears on a website you have designed without making it clear that you will not be responsible for any errors caused by the customer. 
     
  2. Bad customer service gives the impression that either you don’t care about your customers, don’t know how to help them, or don’t have time to address their problems. This will cause customers to lose confidence in your company quickly. Make sure to allocate sufficient time and resources to customer service.
     
  3. Irrelevant or boring updates on social media. Always keep in mind that your fans are the best judges of whether a post is valuable or not, as they read hundreds of posts every day. Your posts have to stand out.
     
  4. Lack of respect for timeframes. Your customers’ time is important. Not respecting that, whether in meetings or when delivering goods will significantly harm your company’s reputation. If you can’t deliver as fast as your competitors, don’t say you can! Instead, look for other strengths that you can highlight to give your company edge.
     
  5. Discussion of politics or expression of support for a specific group on a company’s social media pages will cause you to lose customers who disagree with you.
     
  6. Unhappy employees, angered by unprofessional layoffs or unfair wages, might harm your company’s reputation if they speak publicly about their experiences. The best way to avoid such problems is to respect the people working for you. It is also important for you to be aware of laws that protect you from defamation if it does occur.
     
  7. Irregular interface modifications will cause confusion. Make only necessary changes and give your customers the choice between using the new interface or continuing to use the old one. If you must modify your interface, introduce changes in the simplest manner possible (look at Gmail’s recent update for a great example).
     
  8. Complaining to your customers will not necessarily get you their sympathy, but instead may annoy them. Always think of what you would expect from a company or vendor you are dealing with. You would certainly not find it acceptable to be forced to listen to their problems instead of receiving the service you expect as a customer.
     
  9. Intrusive personal messages under the pretext of marketing your product will reflect negatively on the reputation of your company. Moreover, constantly sending messages will cause customers ignore them, assuming that they won’t offer useful information.
     
  10. Indecent ads, especially in the Arab world, might lead to embarrassment or offense on the part of large segments of your target audience. There are a lot of other advertising strategies that are better suited to conservative markets. One example of a successful high-impact ad is a TV commercial for Zain, aired during Ramadan, that was inspired by a popular family-friendly Arab TV series.

Always keep in mind that your company’s reputation is a very valuable – and fragile – asset. Everyone makes mistakes; the test of a good entrepreneur is whether they can grow by overcoming obstacles, rather than get bogged down in damage control.

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