With social media possessing the capability to turn unwanted attention or negative feedback into a viral sensation and reviews playing an increasingly significant role in the consumer buying process, reputation has never been more important. Sometimes, it’s not possible to avoid situations that put your brand reputation at risk, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your company and minimize the risk of long-term damage.
Lead by example
If you’re the boss, it’s crucial to set the right tone from the top. Lead by example, and make sure that you embody your company values. Your staff should look up to you and respect you, and they should also gain an insight into the ethos of the company by watching the way you engage with customers, interact with other members of staff and reach out to potential clients through channels like social media or TV. If you can set a good example, there’s a good chance that your team, no matter how big or small, will follow suit.
Tackle issues head-on
We’ve all read stories about businesses that have hit the headlines as a result of selling faulty products or mistreating employees or clients, and we understand the potential impact of modern media on businesses of all sizes. Negative attention, whether it’s justified or not, can bring even the most robust and successful brand down. If you’re caught up in a scandal, for example, you’ve been arrested on charges of DUI, or your brand has attracted negative press after refusing to serve a customer without any justifiable cause or providing a client with substandard service, be prepared to face up to what has happened and to tackle issues head-on. Radio silence can make you look guilty even if you’re not, and failing to address the problem can leave customers confused and disappointed. If you’ve been on the wrong side of the law as the face of a company, contact legal experts and find out more about post-sentence solutions. If your business has become a viral sensation after a damning review was shared on social media, come out and make a statement. Offer to rectify the situation and make peace with the individual customer, and show that you’re willing to learn from the experience and move on. Take your time to come up with a plan of action, but don’t skirt around the issue. The longer you leave it, the more speculation will build.
Communicate with your staff
Your staff team is an extension of your brand, and it’s important that every employee understands the responsibility that comes with the job. If you have expectations about the way you wish your staff to behave, make sure you communicate this effectively. Draw up policies and good practice guidelines, and check in with your employees on a regular basis. Social media is often a concern for modern employers. If you’re keen to minimize the potential impact of social media, it’s a good idea to advise your employees against interacting with customers and clients on platforms like Facebook and encourage them to make their accounts private. If you provide equipment like work phones, tablets, or laptops, it’s wise to enforce procedures to restrict use, for example, using work phones for business calls only.
Promote your brand in the best light
If you’re a fan of sport, you’ll know that the offense is the best form of defense. While it’s crucial to adopt a preventative approach to protecting the reputation of your business, it’s also important to focus on promoting your brand and showing it off in the best possible light. You want your customers and people who are stumbling across your brand name for the first time to form positive associations and impressions. Showcase everything that is great about your company and underline what’s original and special about your business. If you donate to charity, you work with local schools or universities or you invest in sustainable materials or eco-friendly manufacturing processes, tell your customers all about it. This is the kind of information consumers want, and it can help you to enhance your brand image and reputation.
Make sure you can deliver on your promises
When you sell products or services, you enter into a contract, which your customer will expect to be honored. If you let them down, there’s a chance that they will leave a bad review, they’ll tell other people, share their story online and even report you to the authorities. There are bound to be times when circumstances mean that it’s impossible to meet expectations. If you’ve promised next-day delivery, for example, and your courier has been involved in an accident, you may not be able to get that parcel to your client within the promised time frame. In this case, contact your client as soon as you are aware of the issue, and offer an alternative. Perhaps you can reassure them that the package will be delivered first thing the next day, for example. In addition, offer compensation. In this case, it would be appropriate to refund the delivery costs and give the client money off their next order. If you’ve got a valid reason, you’re honest and open with the customer, and you’re willing to make things right, you can minimize the risk of a fallout. If you let people down on a consistent basis, you may need to review the way you work and the promises you make to your clients. The more clients you upset, the higher the risk of losing out to rivals and potentially bearing the brunt of a backlash on social media and review sites.
When a customer hears your brand name mentioned, you want them to formulate a positive association. Building a reputation can take time, but even the most respected companies are vulnerable to rapid downfalls. To protect your business, lead by example, communicate with your staff, and make sure you’re making promises you can actually fulfill. Tackle issues head-on, be open and transparent and take steps to minimize the impact of problems as swiftly as possible.