The issue of brands' reputational damage has been in the news quite a lot over the past month or so, with several major airlines coming under fire for failing to apologise to their customers following a series of shortcomings.
Damage to a company's reputation can be long-lasting and, in some cases, irreparable, meaning businesses of all sizes need to be taking steps to safeguard their profile; this doesn't just apply to big corporations, but limited company contractors also need to be aware of protecting their reputation among clients within their industry.
So, what steps can contractors and freelancers take to protect their reputation?
Keep your workload manageable
The first, and arguably most important, step on our list is to keep your workload manageable. In the initial days of contracting, it can be tempting to take every opportunity that comes your way.
However, this will soon see you snowed under with assignments to complete and is likely to leave you struggling to achieve a sustainable work-life balance, even if this is one of the reasons you made the move to working for yourself in the first place.
Therefore, it's best to take on assignments one at a time until you know what kind of pace you're going to be able to work through them as you get used to your new way of working.
This will help to prevent a whole host of issues, including letting your clients down, which brings us on to our next point.
It's important to be realistic about the work you can complete, both to yourself and to your clients. Managing expectations is of paramount importance for contractors, which is why regular communication with clients is key.
In the corporate world, people often talk about 'under-promising and over-delivering', which is a good way to keep in your clients' favour. For example, if you think you'll have a project finished by 5pm on Wednesday, tell your client it won't be complete until the end of the day on Friday, then they'll be pleased when it's done early, but you won't be putting yourself under extra pressure.
This approach also leaves you with a little room if deadlines need to be moved. This is another reason why communication with your clients is important. Just let them know if you need extra time to complete a task and it's likely that they'll be understanding, as you're managing their expectations.
In those times when you are struggling to meet deadlines, an extra pair of hands to provide help and advice on the administrative side of running your limited company may be welcome, which is why our limited company service, My PSC, can prove invaluable.
My PSC is a safe pair of hands that will help you with your limited company admin, advising you when needed, meaning that you can spend your time doing what you do best, completing your contract work and better managing expectations in those busy times. My PSC will also ensure that you stay on the right side of HMRC, subsequently preventing further reputational damage.
Respond to all feedback
If you do receive any feedback on your work from your clients, either directly via email, in person, on your LinkedIn, Facebook or on a forum, make sure you acknowledge it and respond promptly, regardless of whether it's positive or negative.
When you've received good feedback, let the client know you've seen it and reply saying something along the lines of 'looking forward to working with you again in the future'.
And when you receive negative comments, don't ignore or delete them, as that will make it look like you don't particularly care and could cause damage to your reputation in the long term. Instead, respond directly to the person who has left the feedback. Stay polite and professional and let them know how they can contact you if they'd like to discuss the issue further.
Often, people can appear more blunt and abrupt when leaving comments online and a quick chat on the phone can sort any differences out in a calm, friendly and professional manner.
Take constructive criticism on board
Even once issues have been resolved, it's important to take any feedback you've received on board. If clients and customers see you repeating past mistakes, they are likely to take their money elsewhere and turn to one of your competitors instead.
Constructive criticism isn't necessarily negative criticism, it's given to help you to improve, so make sure you take note of it and up your game so that you're always impressing your clients and safeguarding your reputation in the future.
And if you need a little extra help while you make some changes to the way you complete assignments, remember that My PSC is always on hand to provide advice and support, whenever you need it.