It’s a free world out there, in the online realm, and our ability to share our views and experiences can affect businesses of all industries and sizes. If you purchase a pair of shoes and they fall apart after one week of wearing them, you’ll most likely be irritated enough to post a public review that berates their product. The result? More people will look to another shoe brand for their seasonal supply, or at the very least, they will start having doubts regarding that particular brand.
It’s human nature, our need to make sure we won’t make mistakes, waste our time, let alone our money, and so we learn from the mistakes of others rather than our own. However, brands will sometimes encounter unrightful criticism, or even perfectly plausible complaints, and in each instance, you need to find a way to address the issue rather than let it fester. Building a reputation is more than inspiring the good, it’s also about dealing with the bad and the ugly, so let’s see how you can help your business thrive and safeguard its reputation no matter the occasion.
Monitor your reputation over time
There’s very little you can do without monitoring your current standing in your industry, among your competitors, and your audience. For starters, you need to take a step back, see how you’re perceived, and always keep an eye on the key messages out there that can indicate an issue with your reputation. It’s not enough to only consider the things that are coming directly to you, such as reviews posted on your pages and emails sent by your customers, but also utilize social mention monitoring to see in which contexts does your brand appear on social media.
In addition to keeping an eye on how your brand name and each service you offer is rated in the online realm, the perception of your competitors is equally vital, as it will give you a set of values to see where you lag behind and how you can improve.
When it comes to document management system, good tools can make all the difference. You’ve got to be able to quickly find what you’re looking for and also efficiently organize your documents. With a good tool like SharePoint or Google Drive, you’ll have
Build guidelines to handle crises
As in the shoe example above, there are bound to be disgruntled users here and there, but staying silent in the face of criticism, whether it’s rightful or not, will not bode well for your business. In addition to ongoing monitoring, creating a crisis management strategy will also be vital for the success of your brand and its reputation online, as well as offline. Whether you’re dealing with a company-wide scandal or a minor employee infraction, you need a protocol and a set of procedures to follow.
There’s little the internet hasn’t seen yet, so in all likelihood, there’s already a solution to your potential problem of handling a crisis. The worst thing you can do is stay silent, so it’s necessary to devise a range of proper ways to address the issue, such as apology statements, press releases, reimbursement to the person in question, and any language that can be used.
Educate your team
Every major brand out there has a dedicated group of people handling all online matters. From your marketing experts, social media managers, all the way to your online customer support crew, they are all points of contact with the consumer in one way or another, and they present a potential threat to the reputation of your business if they don’t handle their tasks properly. That is why each business needs to help their newcomer employees understand the best ways to behave online, talk to the customers, how to encourage positive reviews and what to do in case of negative ones.
As you progress, you’ll update your crisis management plan and all other accompanying documents, to include examples of your past issues, how they were resolved, and even to point out any potential mistakes that can lead to escalation. Learn from what you do as well as from the data you collect from monitoring so that you can prevent rather than heal issues that can damage your reputation.
Commit to making changes when necessary
We’ve mentioned those users that point out valid issues with your business. Perhaps it’s a one-time hiccup or perhaps a more permanent problem in your operations, but whatever may be the case, it’s up to you to mend it. Now, your customers may not always use the best or most constructive of ways to point out what you’re doing wrong, but you nonetheless need to find a silver lining even in those unfortunate situations.
Compensating them for their negative experience may sometimes be possible, but only if your business learns from its mistakes. Make sure that those apologies and promises you post as a response to unhappy customers are not empty words. How you act and what you say will heavily affect your future reputation, so make sure to follow up with your users as soon as you make the changes they’ve requested.
Managing your reputation will always be a challenge, let alone it this harsh world of ours where few people have the patience to deal with mishaps. Follow these key steps in protecting and growing your reputation, and you’ll give your brand a fair chance at success in your industry.