BBB recommends reputation management as a cornerstone for business success

It's hard to imagine a more powerful asset to your business than a great reputation.

Priceless in value because, as Harvey Mackay, New York Times best-selling business author, says, "You can't buy a good reputation - you must earn it." 

A key to business success is creating a reputation of excellence. While that takes time, strong business reputations are routinely credited for sales growth, loyal customers and attracting higher quality employees.

Brand reputation is also a powerful tool to stand out from your competitors. 

According to statistics from Salesforce research, 95% of customers will be loyal to a company with a reputation they trust, and more than 90% are more likely to recommend the business. 

It's important for new businesses to establish a positive reputation online. A common problem we see at BBB, is that some companies lack an online presence.

For your business to be found more easily, you must have consistent information everywhere your customers can find you online. Your online and offline reputation affects your website's SEO, so you must claim all your social media pages and respond to customer feedback quickly.

The BBB can help, too. is one of the top 1% of highest trafficked websites in the world, attracting millions of local consumer searches throughout Chicago and Northern Illinois each year, and it has a high domain authority. If your company isn't listed in the BBB Business Directory, consider applying for BBB Accreditation to be able to display the BBB Seal, the sign of a better business.

Or you can submit a free profile. Once you're included, keep your profile up to date to give your company better visibility.

Another tool is to look up your business's name on Google Search and note where you appear. Do other searches show up when you look up your business's name? Do you show up anywhere on the first page when you search for your services? Does your business show up as a location on Google Maps?

If you can't find yourself in any of these spots, then neither can your customers.   

Verify your company online through Google My Business. By verifying your company's profile on Google, you will always show the right contact information to potential customers searching for your company or services. 

Some businesses may be hesitant to go online and open themselves up to customer feedback. However, great reviews from your customers are a powerful reputation magnifier. Even negative reviews with an appropriate response can counterintuitively boost SEO. If you're responding to a negative review, keep your response positive and try to take the conversation offline.

A great reputation is something to be proud of. Search engines prioritize customer reviews - especially new and relevant reviews. As best practice, make sure you respond to all feedback.

While responding to all reviews is an investment of your time, it will pay big dividends and is critical to building trust and managing your reputation as a credible and ethical business. 

If an issue arises between your business and a customer, it's important to be responsive with a resolution in mind to create a positive marketplace interaction. Each successful interaction shows future potential customers that you will be proactive in solving any problem that may occur. Not responding to a negative experience gives the impression that you've given up on that customer interaction.

This may be summed up best by Warren Buffett, who says, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it."

One last thought for many businesses who are building or have already built a great reputation: Don't keep it secret or lock it away within your organization. Celebrate those positive interactions and share them on social media whenever possible.

Your business's reputation is the strongest marketing tool at your disposal.

• Steve J. Bernas is President and CEO of the BBB of Chicago & Northern Illinois. He can be reached at

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