If your holiday marketing was successful, you may have brought in many new customers this season. As consumers take down their tinsel and jot down their resolutions, they also start talking about the businesses they visited during the holiday season.

What will they say about yours? Will one negative customer experience cause a reputation problem? Would you even know if you need reputation management services?

You can answer all of these questions and more if you pay attention to the correct indicators.

Customer Reviews

One of the first and most vital clues that your company’s reputation needs some TLC is if your reviews start trending negative. Although this may seem obvious, it’s not always so easy to see when you’re in the thick of it.

While one review about a negative customer experience is nothing to trigger the alarm for, several in a row may be cause for concern. The idea is to monitor the overall trend of the positive-to-negative review ratio and being responsive to your customers when they do leave reviews (both positive and negative reviews).

You Go Viral in the Wrong Way

While bad reputations often build up over time, a bad viral story can tank your business image overnight. Consider the many times a video went viral and even big companies took financial hits. Bad experiences can wreak havoc quickly.

Unfortunately, this could happen to many types of businesses and it is important that you aren’t blindsided. That’s why it’s essential to closely manage reviews, news alerts and social media tags for your business. Staying in-the-know will allow you to be proactive and resolve issues as they arise.

Sales Start Slumping

Sales can slow for several reasons. Economic downturns or seasonal changes, for example, have little to do with your reputation but can impact profit. However, if you see sales falling and can’t find a reasonable explanation, your company’s reputation could be the culprit. In fact, opportunity costs around the country total about $537 billion per year thanks to unhappy customers.

Nobody Responds to Your Job Listing

Bad online reviews and slowing sales aren’t the only problems to consider when your company gets a bad rap. A poor reputation can make it difficult to recruit great talent. If you find yourself struggling to get anyone to fill your open positions, it could be because your company is not seen well among the public.

Sometimes, the company itself has a fine reputation for customer engagement, but a poor reputation for its employment practices. On the other hand, some people simply do not want to work for organizations with bad reputations overall. If your brand is known as uncool or unethical, you may find it difficult to recruit new hires. They know that your company’s name will appear on their resumes and they want to represent themselves well.

The Best Defense…

While you should always monitor your company's reputation and defend against problems that arise, you should also remain proactive. Use tools such as ConsumerAffairs for Brands to get ahead of the game, make contingency plans for negative press and reviews, and earn positive brand awareness.