How to Avoid Hits to Your Company’s Reputation
Learn more about how to manage your business reputation online and offline. Having a great business reputation is a major key to sucesss.
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Your company’s success can be impacted either positively or negatively by its public reputation. In the digital age, when social media posts can spread virally within seconds, this is a bigger concern than ever. Whatever the size of your business, it’s necessary to plan for potential problems while also working toward a good public profile.
Stay Ahead of the Conversation
Public reputation is built by word of mouth and these days, by social media posts. You can understand what others are saying about your company by monitoring social media for comments and reviews. This information can be valuable in identifying and correcting any misconceptions people may have.
You also want to be proactive, not just reactive, in building your reputation by leading the public conversation about your business. A positive social media presence can build goodwill and communicate a consistent message about your company’s services and quality. A website is a must, and frequent posts across multiple social media channels will reach a greater audience.
Protect Your Brand Identity
After you complete all the legal steps in establishing your brand, such as registering copyrights and trademarks, you’ll want to make sure your brand identity stays protected. It’s not just your business name that is at stake; any images, logos, slogans, and content associated with your company will need protection in terms of intellectual property rights. It’s a good idea to include an intellectual property rights statement in your terms of services agreement on your website.
However, intellectual property rights are only enforced by bringing legal action, and that means you must monitor your competition and be aware of any potential copyright or trademark infringement. Also, watch social media for any misuse of your brand that puts your company in a negative light.
Create a Crisis Communication Plan
When a crisis affects your company, you want to be prepared to communicate with the public and your employees effectively. Despite your best efforts, an emergency such as an equipment breakdown, fire, weather disaster, burglary, or accident can happen. How you handle a crisis can greatly impact your company’s reputation.
A good crisis communication plan begins with appointing a crisis team and then designating an individual as the sole spokesperson for all communications with the public or media. Prepare fact sheets about the company and align potential messages with other policies of the company, including the social media policy. Respond with compassion, honesty, and responsibility.
Protect Customer Data
Emergencies can result in your company’s data being destroyed or damaged, and data compromises can happen at any time due to security problems. A good data protection plan will ensure sensitive information about your business and your customers are safe.
Outsourcing IT services can help you focus on your area of expertise at your business. Even small businesses can benefit by letting a professional IT firm handle its cybersecurity. They have the expertise and tools to monitor system activity and detect any weaknesses that could lead to data breaches. They can also advise on the best way to protect your data from internal leaks and external dangers.
Ask for Customer Reviews
Every business owner knows that word of mouth drives business, and these days, that includes online public reviews. Yet, people are busy and may not take the time to review your company unless you make it easy for them. On your website, directly ask for reviews and link to popular review sites such as Yelp. You can also add a review link to your Facebook page. Add glowing reviews to your website as testimonials. A bank of positive reviews can lessen the impact of a negative review now and then.
Responding to reviews, whether they are good or bad, is also a good strategy in keeping your company’s reputation strong. Consumers appreciate when a business takes the time to read and respond to them.
Respond Promptly to Complaints
Customers understand that problems will happen, and they are willing to forgive an error or mishap. But when a company doesn’t respond, they’re unlikely to forget. Ignoring a complaint won’t make it go away; rather, listening, empathizing, and responding appropriately will build a reputation that your company stands by its products or services.
For consistency, it’s a good idea to appoint one person or team to handle complaints. The person or team should be trained to listen to the customer and understand the problem, empathize or apologize for the customer’s inconvenience, and offer a resolution to the problem. While you can’t please every customer, creating a complaint resolution policy can help you prepare.
Speak with Actions
What you say affects your reputation, but what you do may send a bigger message. Protecting your company’s reputation means keeping your word and following through on your promises with ethical actions that consider the common good.
Investing in community citizenship can foster good relationships with customers and other businesses in your town. Donations, sponsorships, and employee volunteer programs can generate positive publicity and foster goodwill.
Overall, the best way to avoid hits to your company’s reputation is to prepare for problems while at the same time bolstering your positive public profile. Every business will face difficulties that can put a dent in their reputations, but knowing how to respond can make any setback temporary.
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