Improve Your Business Rep

Improve Your Business Reputation


Most of us assume that our businesses should have a good reputation in the community because we produce a quality product and do our best. Unfortunately, we can’t always control the narrative that develops around us. Sometimes we’re having a bad day and someone takes what we say out of context. Sometimes someone with a lot of sway genuinely has a bad experience with your business. However it happens, you may find your business developing a reputation that you don’t think it deserves.

There are a number of things you can do to help improve your business’s reputation in the community should you find yourself in this spot.

Do some self-reflection

The first strategy is to do some self-reflection. Ask yourself is the negative reviews you’ve received really do mean your business needs some work? You can’t fix something that you don’t see as a problem, so before you make an action plan you should ask yourself if there are changes you really do need to make. These could include:

  • Hiring more staff to make sure customers are served in a timely period
  • Evaluating your refund, return or exchange policies to make sure they are fair
  • Looking at the quality of your products to see if they’re “up to snuff”
  • Considering how you respond to customer complaints so that you don’t make things worse

Once you’ve done these things (and maybe made some initial changes), you might see the number of complaints or negative reviews you receive going down. You’re not out of the woods yet, though. Countering a negative reputation takes time.

Some of the activites you might take on are below.

Volunteer / Attend community events

Volunteering in the community, whether actively or as an attendee at community events supporting your business can help generate goodwill. You’ll be able to interact with customers and help leave a more positive feeling in their mind.

Sometimes people who have a bad interaction with your business remember it for years. Until they have another interaction with you or your business, you won’t be able to get their busines back. Positive interactions in the community can help you do this.

Get involved with SADC

Sigourney Area Development Corporation (SADC) members are more likely to be viewed positively by consumers and membership may increase the likelihood people buy from you. This can go a long way. Additionally, the networking opportunities you have with other businesses and consumers can help spread the good word that your company doesn’t deserve the reputation it’s received.

Committees can also help you learn from fellow business owners so you can provide the best product or service that you can.

Counter negative reviews

Sometimes you get negative reviews online because someone has misunderstood something (like that they could return products no matter what their condition, while your store clearly posts and lists on the receipt that all returns must be in the original box and accompanied by a receipt.)

Sometimes no amount of good customer service will help and you end up with a negative review on Google or another website. What can you do? One option is to explain your side of the situation politely, calmly and clearly. Without making any judgements on the individual, you can provide more information so that when people read the review they’ll understand how the confusion occurred. “Kill them with kindness” applies here, you must take the high road.  

Empower happy employees

One of the biggest contributors to your overall message in a community is the word of mouth your business generates. The biggest “evangelists” of your product or service can be your employees. This is only possible if they’re empowered and happy to come to work each day. Work with your employees to find out what changes need to be made to give them more control over their work and feel empowered.

Respond quickly to complaints

When someone has a complaint about your business whether in person or online it’s important that you respond quickly. Large corporations now have 24/7 social media presence because they recognize how fast “bad news” can travel and they want to get out in front of it. Of course, small businesses don’t have the resources for that but that doesn’t mean you need to leave someone wondering what happened to their complaint.

It takes just a few seconds to send someone an email the same day you receive theirs explaining when you’ll follow up – and then make sure you keep your word. This will help the customer feel heard and begin to immediately defuse some of those negative feelings.

Ask for feedback

Going back to our theme of self-reflection, many times we don’t even realize how our business is being perceived by others. Your store might have a policy like “All customers must leave their backpacks by the door” might be because you have a lot of glass items that could be easily knocked over by a backpack someone’s wearing. To your customers though, they might interpret that as an anti-shoplifting measure and feel unfairly targeted.

For this reason, it’s important to ask for feedback from customers and other business owners so that you can see how your business might be interpreted and you can make positive changes.

Don’t get emotional

When someone does give you a negative review, or even constructive feedback it’s important that you don’t get emotional. We can be very protective of this business we’ve created and it’s hard to see people making judgements on it. At the same time, their feedback is invaluable. It’s important to look at their suggestions dispassionately and decide if they really would make your business experience a better one.

Seek out earned-media

Finally, the last strategy is to seek out “earned media.” In contrast to press releases, earned media is things like newspaper articles and TV broadcasts that you earned on the basis of your business’s good service or product.

It’s important to build relationships with the local papers and TV stations like the Sigourney News-Review. Ask SADC how we can help make that happen if you’re interested in building your business’s profile in the community.


There are a lot of strategies you can put in place to help improve your reputation. No matter what, make sure that you try not to take negative reviews personally but instead use them as an opportunity to make your store, service, or product the best that it can be. Then you can be proud of what you’ve created and keep your business going for years to come.