Manage Your Business by Using Online Reputation Management Techniques

The moment you tell somebody the name of your company, the next thing is they are going to Google this name to find out about your company, what it does, the employee strength, place of business, product reviews etc. If there is a bad review written, you can bet the person is not going to want to do business with you. Your online reputation is at stake and you must do everything in your power to make sure this does not affect your life and your business. This is where online reputation management comes into picture.

Techniques for online reputation management – Don’t let your business get tarnished

Assess where you stand – It is time to get real. Type your company name in Google and find out what comes up. Are there any negative reviews? Well, you just can’t get rid of them but you can certainly minimize the impact by using certain SEO techniques. Try to add more positive content by knocking off the bad one and eventually it won’t come up

Proactively gain slots in the Google top 10 search results – Try to get in the top 10 Google results by using online reputation management tools. Key is to balance out the negative comments with the positive ones

Use LinkedIn as your social network – Social Media is in vogue and it is time to make use of it to save our online brand. Use LinkedIn, it is a great social and business networking tool. Especially B2B companies need LinkedIn as people tend to Google LinkedIn for professional services

I link you, you link me – This means get other sites to link to yours with Anchor text. When you click and anchor text, it takes you to another URL. Thus the best way is to ask others to link to your site using keyword-rich anchor text

Scan search results regularly – Make it a practice to assess your company’s online reputation once a month. Check at least first 3 pages for negative content. If you find any, it is time to get it off before it plays havoc with your online brand

Contact the one who has written negative content – If you find negative feedback; try to contact its generator. Talk out things with him, he just might change his mind and delete the feedback

Offline reputation management affects online reputation management – There are chances that your offline reputation might affect your online reputation. So keep up a good image in the offline world and automatically your online world will remain safe

Conclusion

The internet has got an amazing memory, it just does not forget. Your online reputation is vital to your business, no matter what. So keep posting good content through blogs and social media platforms. Highlight the good reviews written about your company. Establish a good relationship with your clients. They are sure to praise you and this will help retain your good reputation. Use online reputation management tools to keep negative comments at bay.

‘Got Accountability?

What first crosses your mind when you hear “accountability?” I usually get two reactions: that there isn’t enough of it, or a wary reaction. Unfortunately, both reactions often reflect reality. We encounter organizations with products, services or results that fall short, with no one taking responsibility to close the gaps. When accountability comes up in organizations, a common reaction is preparation for blaming, shaming, increased performance pressure or all three.

It doesn’t have to be that way; ideally accountability is a positive, proactive dimension of an organization’s culture that everyone owns and takes pride in vs. a reactionary, negative or punitive dynamic. Here are the keys:

Lay the foundation. Part of laying the foundation is embracing accountability as a core value. As with other core values, this works when it’s defined, discussed on regular occasions and modeled, especially by leadership. Defining values is important, since they are interpreted differently; agreeing on “what we will do” and “what we won’t do” for any given value helps build common understanding.

Critical to a proper foundation for accountability is clarifying realistic goals and performance expectations. Research tells us that on average only about 40% of employees even know their organization’s strategic goals, so communicating those effectively is a start. We also need to ensure that organization sub-units and team members have realistic goals and performance objectives, along with an understanding of how they contribute to larger goals. I mentioned “realistic” twice here, since I encounter both performance shortfalls and dispirited workers because that is not the case. Goals and performance objectives that are jointly crafted improve their realism and ownership, and therefore chances that they will be achieved. (“Jointly crafted” usually entails some negotiation, or give-and-take, not being forced to take goals that we are given.)

Clarify roles and responsibilities. A common cause of poor execution and accountability is uncertainty about roles and decision rights. We can be hesitant to act or make decisions on our own if we are not sure about what responsibilities are ours and what level of autonomy or what decision-making authority we have been granted.

Accountability for shared goals. We need to cultivate a “see it, own it, solve it and do it” orientation in our organizations, as “The Oz Principle” authors put it. That means that even if not in our job description or on our list of personal objectives, doing whatever needs doing to achieve the larger organization’s commitments and aspirations. We have a neighbor dedicated to picking up any trash or stray objects over several square blocks; it’s not his job, but a sense of responsibility that he feels as part of the community. It’s the same spirit that prevails when we correct an oversight, deliver extra customer service or help solve a problem that’s not of our making or our responsibility.

Cultivate authenticity. Authentic means real. One measure of reality already mentioned is the realism of goals and performance expectations. Another important facet is authentic communication. A truth-telling culture will of course help ensure realistic goal-setting; it will also facilitate difficult but necessary conversations when things are off course. We need leaders and team members with the competence and courage to respectfully tell the truth as they see it and who empower others to do the same. Multiple incidents of not revealing “inconvenient truths” and not speaking truth to power or pressure were principle contributors to the l986 loss of the Challenger space shuttle with seven aboard, to name one classic and tragic example. If we are seeking to fix accountability for causes of our last great recession or companies that find themselves in ethical quagmires today, we will find countless instances of inability to be authentic or to speak the truth.

Provide necessary support and resources. As psychologist and author Bob Mager pointed out, there are generally 4 reasons that people don’t perform: they don’t know what, they don’t know how, they don’t want to or there are barriers. Agreement on goals and performance expectations takes care of knowing what; training and coaching will help assure that they know how. Mager’s classic question to determine if lack of training causes performance gaps is: “Could they perform as desired if a gun were put to their head?” Short of that, testing, observing performance and coaching can help reveal if training support is needed. If we’ve ruled out lack of knowing what to do, how to do it or lack of motivation as issues, there likely are barriers to contend with, including perhaps insufficient resources, lack of collaboration, restrictive policies or physical barriers. An important part of our job as leaders is removing barriers.

Alignment. Upton Sinclair was right: “It’s hard to get someone to understand something when their pay depends on not understanding it.” We need to align pay, as well as recognition, measures, feedback, training and organizational systems with what we want people to be accountable for. If we want call center workers to be motivated about excellent customer service and accountable for it, reinforcing solely call volume won’t work. If we want to reinforce shared accountability regardless of role, it doesn’t work to neglect recognition of contributions outside the scope of team members’ job descriptions or goals.

Measure what matters. What do we want people to be accountable for? Likely it’s a combination of what to accomplish (goals and performance objectives themselves,) along with how (values and performance standards.) Agree on what measures or indicators will reflect that things are on course, and use those measures all along the way. Don’t fall into the trap of legendary ancient Roman bridge engineers, required to stand beneath a stone bridge’s capstone as it was put in place and chariots drove overhead. Don’t rely on just “lagging indicators” (dead engineers) to determine if goals were achieved; use “leading indicators” (process measures, stress indicators, etc.) to determine if corrective action is needed along the way.

If accountability matters, then we should measure it. Following are a few questions from a survey that I use to gauge accountability in organizations. Take a few moments to answer these questions about yours:

KEY:

1 = Not at all characteristic 4 = Very characteristic

2 = Slightly characteristic 5 = Completely characteristic

3 = Fairly characteristic DK = Don’t know

16. This organization achieves the goals that it sets.

4. This organization uses a balanced set of measures to assess how it is doing-not just financial performance, but other measures that are important.

14. This organization consistently provides data and timely feedback about performance and achievement of goals.

17. This organization considers the impact that its decisions and actions will have on other stakeholders.

29. People in this organization understand what measures are most important.

32. This organization follows through with its commitments and plans.

33. This organization provides products or services that deliver real value.

34. This organization is a good steward of the resources it controls.

36. This organization acts in ways that demonstrate it is a good community citizen.

38. People in this organization are held accountable for their performance.

How is your organization doing? Less than 35 usually indicates accountability shortfalls; individual question responses can help identify where improvement is needed.

There is a broader than traditional notion of accountability reflected by several of the questions above: stewardship. Think of three concentric circles. Responsibility is the innermost circle – those things that we are charged with or assume responsibility for. Accountability is the next tier, and closer to The Oz Principle’s “see it, own it, solve it, do it” notion – shared ownership of larger organization or community goals and aspirations. Stewardship is a broader yet form of accountability and encompasses the outermost circle; it extends beyond our individual responsibilities and beyond even shared goals of our organization or community. Stewardship is consideration and care for resources and stakeholders that traditionally we are not held accountable for. It is akin to “seventh generation thinking” attributed to early Native American cultures, conscious of how their resource use, decisions and practices might affect their grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond. Quoting Voltaire, the comedian George Burns quipped that “No snowflake feels responsible for an avalanche.” Likewise, if there is not a sense of shared responsibility for resolving growing environmental, social, political and economic ills, they may overwhelm us; stewardship reflects that kind of shared responsibility. It is also about stewardship not only of financial and physical resources that can be easily counted, but of less tangible resources including reputation, employee wellbeing and talent. Consumers, employees and applicants are increasingly favoring organizations that demonstrate that kind of stewardship and social responsibility. Savvy organizations are becoming genuinely better stewards not only because it’s the right thing to do, but the more profitable and sustainable path.

Manage Your Business Relationships Effectively

Relationships are at the core of all business, small or large. Friends, family, vendors, customers and employees are all part of the people impacted by your small business. Relationships can be a challenge to manage, but if you do it well and identify problems early, you can increase your likelihood of success.

By operating your business with integrity and honesty, you make it easier on yourself to address issues without being challenged by others. Be as transparent as possible in your business dealings. If you want your business relationships to stay strong, be available to discuss concerns and problems when they are brought to you.

The old saying “the customer is always right” is usually right and, even when it isn’t, they should feel like it is. Caring for your customers is at the heart of your business so staying in contact with them and identifying problems early prevents small issues from growing larger. When possible, admit any mistakes early and make quick corrections which actually increases customer loyalty over not making mistakes at all.

Though you couldn’t operate without your vendors and suppliers, they can be a source of frustration. When they encounter problems, it impacts your business and customer satisfaction. Let vendors know early on what your expectations are and how you’d like problems handled. When you do encounter a problem, explaining how your business was impacted helps the vendor not feel attacked. Address problems early and don’t let issues build, but if they do, always keep your eye out for a replacement.

Your employees are the backbone of your business. They are free marketing, customer service and support for you. Provide them with a solid understand of their role and how it fits into the business’s overall success. Be available to listen to ideas and concerns. Learn to identify the early signs of an unhappy team member because they can infect the entire business culture with negativity.

Providing your staff members with rewards, challenges and flexibility will help keep the majority happy. But you will sometimes encounter issues where a hiring mistake was made or the employee is just not performing due to outside reasons you can’t change. An employee who is negatively impacting your business, your customers and the rest of team may need to be terminated. If you have followed your human resources policies and employment law, this decision is easier and will sometimes end positively, in the long-term, for the employee as well.

We often forget that our family and friends are affected by our business. They provide us with support so we should stay open to listening to their concerns about how the business is impacting them. Let them know up front if you are going to be particularly unavailable, but also try to set boundaries for yourself and delegate so you can stay as available as possible.

Taking care of all of your business relationships, the obvious and the less so, is a part of successful business management. Be aware of subtle cues and respond quickly. Appreciate those who support you and you will find your daily work life goes much more smoothly.

10 Reasons Why You Should Manage Your Business Ethically

Why are ethics in business so important? Isn’t it enough to comply with the letter of the law and the rules of society? What’s in it for the business enterprise?

These are all interesting questions. Many business owners feel that maximizing profits is the chief obligation of the firm. Other owners feel that operating a business in a transparent, ethical manner is also important. Both business management and business ethics are about making the right decisions. Does one have to exist to the exclusion of the other?

I think not, and here are the reasons why managing a business ethically is important:

1. It sends the right message to customers and clients. With all the choices available nowadays, who wants to do business with a shady, ethically-challenged company?

2. It sets the right example for the firm’s employees. The temptation to cut corners or behave illegally, immorally, or unethically is reduced if employees are familiar with the firm’s code of ethical conduct and the certainty of its enforcement.

3. It can make the firm a desirable place to work. Recruiting, and then keeping, high-quality employees is far less costly than managing a turnstile where people come and go in bulk quantities.

4. It establishes a prism through which a company views not just normal business dealings, but the handling of extraordinary events or crises. When all options have been considered, asking “What is the right thing to do?” ultimately becomes the basis for action.

5. It provides a clearer focus for the firm. That clear focus is found not just in the tactical day-to-day operations, but in the firm’s strategic planning, as well.

6. It helps protect the interests of the firm. Ethical behavior doesn’t always insulate a firm from lawsuits, bad publicity, or other such negative and costly conditions, but it can certainly reduce the probabilities or mitigate the damage.

7. It helps protect the interests of everyone with whom the firm comes into contact. Will suppliers become more reliable if they know they will get paid on time? Will regulatory agencies be more helpful and accommodating? Will clients be more trusting? There is an obvious higher likelihood of the foregoing answers becoming “Yes” with a company who is seen as highly ethical, than with one who is not.

8. It promotes mutual respect and integrity. This can happen both within the company and from those whom the company deals with.

9. It promotes accountability. This can occur not just within the ranks of the employees, but with the top executives and owners, as well.

10. It can yield a reputation in the marketplace that can be beneficial and sustaining. Isn’t this a desirable condition for any company? If it isn’t, it certainly should be.

How To Efficiently Manage Your Business Accounts Receivables

Accounts receivables are the amount of money that a consumer owes a company for a service or product obtained on credit. Accounts receivables are therefore a company’s sales that have not yet been paid in cash. While accounts receivables are considered as currents assets, it remains difficult to consider a product or a service as sold or purchased unless it has been paid in cash. If your company regularly makes a sale on credit and you do not implement and maintain an efficient accounts receivable system, the cash flow in your company will be negatively affected.

This can have unwanted implications in the operation of your business. It is therefore crucial that a company observes proper and efficient account receivable management. The following are valuable tips and guidelines to help you efficiently manage your business’ accounts receivables:

Make a background check on your client before you establish a credit account. It will be to your advantage that before you allow a client to purchase goods and services from your company on credit, you make a detailed background check on the client. Among the things that you need to know are the demographic and credit information of your client. Making a background check is most helpful for you to avoid clients who you will have a hard time collecting bills in the future. The social security number of a person, for example, can be a very helpful determinant in knowing whether a client will be dependable enough to have a credit account in your company. This will save you from the hassles of spending time and money collecting unpaid balances from hard paying clients.

Enter into a signed agreement. It will be helpful if your client and you get into a signed agreement regarding your company’s terms on accounts receivables. It will be best if you include in your agreement the payments terms and conditions which will help expedite the collection of dues. Identifying the collection cost reimbursement will also be advantageous relative to your client’s past due accounts.

Maintain communication. Communication is crucial in any business transaction. It is therefore advised that you maintain communication with clients who have credit accounts in your company. This means that you have to contact your client to ensure prompt payments and to identify reasons that have caused payment delays. Communication will not only build rapport between you and your client but will also ensure a more efficient collection of accounts receivables.