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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.