People today buy from people they feel they can trust. Trust is more than a feeling. It’s based upon a factual and logical conclusion that the individual with whom one is dealing has the best interests of all parties in mind and would do nothing to injure one party for the good of another. Thus trust and reputation becomes an interwoven part of review management. A reputation is earned over years of ethical, honest behavior where one is demonstrating trustworthiness, fairness and integrity at all times.
The rise of the Internet has created a word of mouth revolution. It allows individuals to quickly and easily disseminate opinions and thoughts to a global community of consumers. These writers publish their critiques to an increasingly trusting audience, who consider the reviews as a large factor in their decision making process. Many consumers believe reviews offer honest opinions, no matter whether they personally know the reviewer or not. Review management seeks to help a company position itself as an authority on which people can place their trust.
The population, has grown very skeptical of the motives of all individuals who approach them for any reason. Advertising that has over-promised and under-delivered, products of inferior quality, prospecting that is driven only by product, and the need for a sale as opposed to building ongoing mutually-profitable relationships have all contributed to this cynical attitude in the mind of the buyer.
Businesses must guard their reputation zealously. There is no room for situational ethics, lapses of attention to detail, or “I had no choice but to do it” behavior. A reputation is a precious thing. It is a measure of who you are and what people can expect of you. Nearly 2,500 years ago King Solomon said, “A good name is better than riches.” Clearly a good reputation was valuable even then.
Your reputation is linked to your character–the kind of person you are when no one else is around. Whether your reputation is lost or stolen, it cannot be easily retrieved. People are not inclined to give second chances to those companies that let them down. Even small mistakes can have an adverse effect on your business.
For a company to position themselves to receive positive feedback, they must practice the principles of honesty, integrity and fairness in everyday business activities to earn great online reviews.
In every organization and every society there are individuals that stand out for their honest, ethical behavior–individuals whose word is their bond. Identify these individuals and spend time with them. Develop these individuals as the friends, mentors and managers with whom you will work. Adapt and adopt the behavior that they model on a daily basis. Ask yourself what it is that drives them. Ask them how they make the decisions they make and why they make them. Learn from the opportunities you have to rub shoulders with these individuals so that you can begin to re-evaluate your own value systems and your own foundation to be certain that you’re on firm footing.
A great deal has been said about a code of ethics, however, very little is often placed into practice. The reason appears to be that too often a code of ethics is exactly that. It’s some code that’s mounted on a wall in an office or written in a notebook. A code of ethics is simply a creed or statement that will help you make decisions. If, for example, your code of ethics included such things as “Doing the right things right with my clients’ interests first” this would help govern behavior where the client is perhaps demanding to buy a particular product that doesn’t fit them and you know it’s not in their best interest.
Your code of ethics will give you the confidence and the passion to explain to your clients if they are moving in the wrong direction. It will also allow you to be comfortable when you have to walk away from a situation when you know that proceeding forward is not only the wrong thing to do for yourself, but also the wrong thing to do for your client and the company with whom you associate. A code of ethics need not be a long dissertation, but simply a short group of words that you have brought together that articulate how you’re going to make decisions and the rules that will govern you. A code of ethics acts as a wall to contain and to shape your behavior and decisions and to give you a guide to follow. The common cry, “I don’t know what to do,” is often created because a code of ethics is not in place to guide one’s behavior and thus do the right thing. The result is that often the expedient thing is done instead.
What is the overwhelming, burning passion that drives you to continue in the industry? Is it a simple desire to serve other individuals? What is it that drives you? What is your passion? With which types of people do you really enjoy working and want to build future business around? Where do you see opportunity to serve the marketplace and the people in it? If your purpose for being in the industry is simply to make money, I believe that you will find that it leaves a sense of emptiness within you, because money becomes a very small measure of one’s worth. Purpose not only helps shape your decisions, it helps shape the path you will take and will enable you to make the right choices and the right decisions to move ahead.
In a time when society’s motto and creed appears to be, “Go with the flow,” you would be well served to stop and adjust your thinking and ask yourself, “How am I proceeding?” Are you indulging yourself based upon how you feel, or are you disciplining yourself based upon your ultimate destination? To help you define whether you’re working from a self-indulgence or self-discipline perspective, consider the following:
A recent interesting study examined successful women in the marketplace. They were asked what it was that helped them to be successful. Their overwhelming response was that they were aware of the consequences of their behavior prior to making a final decision about the process they were going to implement. Self-discipline and self-indulgence not only deal with the issue of making decisions. Self-discipline needs to come into play to limit your depression and to recognize that life has its ups and downs. By having made a decision to guide your life by a sense of self-discipline versus self-indulgence, you will not only limit your depressions, you will bounce back more quickly and won’t make bad decisions that injure your reputation during your down times.
Sometimes, because of the nature of the business, a feeling of entitlement can invade your attitude. This is particularly true as one becomes more credible within a market. Nothing can destroy the value of reputation faster than conveying an attitude that you deserve it. Avoid coming across to others as if they owe you a favor or they owe it to you to see you. To develop and keep an attitude of thankfulness, focus on being thankful for the opportunity and business that you are receiving. Being thankful keeps you in the right frame of mind and thus earns you respect in the eyes of the buyer. An ancient proverb tells us that before honor comes humility. It’s the thank-you notes that you send and the sincere appreciation that you show to all concerned that become the bricks and mortar of your reputation. People begin to perceive you as an individual who’s truly there to serve and not just to sell–who is interested in binding together with them in a spirit of cooperation, fellowship, and a relationship that’s mutually rewarding.
A reputation is a fragile thing. It must be protected at all costs by realizing that as the ancient writings tell us, “As a person thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Examine your heart and determine your motives to ensure that you are building your reputation as an honest, ethical individual with whom people will want to do business. Guard your reputation zealously and be constantly on the lookout for the myriad of opportunities to enhance your reputation by focusing on other people versus yourself.
Following this path of reputation first will enable a positive review management strategy. It is impractical to believe you can behave poorly, and expect review management to clean up your mess. First, form good business habits, then use review management as a tool to enable customers to witness the strengths of your organization.
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