In business, as well as our social lives, reputation counts for a lot. Your reputation can open or close opportunities in an instant, and it only takes one mistake for your reputation to be left in fragments. This was true a century ago, but it’s even more important to consider now. In the digital age we live in, customer expectations and the importance of transparency are very high. If disaster strikes, you’re going to need to act accordingly to ensure your reputation stays intact. Here’s a few valuable pointers to keep in mind in protecting your reputation.
Be Present and Take the Time to Listen
At various points in recent history, various consumer brands have had their reputations destroyed for not responding properly to complaints about faulty or unreliable products. The biggest issue for modern brands is failing to handle customer service problems through their social media channels like they’re expected to. If you’re shown not to be listening to the constant buzz of social media, or you don’t have much of a presence at all, it’s going to be a huge blow to your brand. Obviously, your resources might be stretched, and you may not have the means for a dedicated social media team. However, even responding with a brief message and a link to the answers they’re looking for is better than total silence! Protecting your reputation means being proactive.
Have a Team and Plan for Crisis Management
This is closely tied to my first point. When you’re always keeping an eye on what people are saying about your brand, you’ll have a little more opportunity to address the problem before it blows up in your face! This should be at the very beginning of your crisis management strategy. As soon as possible, you need to put a dedicated crisis management team together, including people from your HR, legal, PR, marketing, and other relevant departments. Take some time to consider all the possible emergencies your business could go through, and what your best course of action is going to be in each of those circumstances. Making important contacts should also be part of the process. For example, if you’re a software vendor, it may be worth reaching out to some software escrow services today.
You may have read my points about monitoring social media and scoffed. After all, you’re in charge of your platforms and channels. If you don’t like what someone is saying about your brand, you can silence them with the click of a mouse, right? Well, not quite! If you approach what your customer base are saying about you like a totalitarian dictator, people are going to know, no matter how hard you try to cover it up! Once you’ve got the reputation of a big, bad corporation, (even if you’re really not that big!) it can be near impossible to recover from. Hushing certain things up can even land you in hot legal water, too. Be honest and upfront with any issues relating to your brand. It’s always better to come off as incompetent than dishonest!