Reputation management is the effort a company puts into shaping the public’s perception or opinion of its business. Reputation management protects a brand’s image, positively influencing customers’ decisions. As you’ve probably realised, consumers first check your online reviews, social media interactions and other engagements before purchasing.
With this understanding, it makes it critical to protect your online brand. To create a solid reputation, first, understand the reputation management phases. These include:
Reputation Building Phase
During this phase, a new business creates a foundation that allows it to grow and thrive despite the competition and market fluctuations. The goal of the reputation building phase is to establish a solid customer base and make a name for your company as reliable and transparent, with an emphasis on service delivery.
When building a positive and rewarding reputation, businesses should strive to offer great products at affordable prices while ensuring customers are satisfied after every transaction.
Never before has it been more critical for companies to work on building a strong, positive reputation. If you want your business or organisation to succeed, you absolutely must make sure that the public likes what they see. During this stage, the primary efforts should be to:
- Create online informational resources
- Establish engagement channels for customers
- Get your business name out to the community through news, events and promotions
- Give your online business a face through video marketing, creating personal profiles on the site’s customers visit most and share industry-related information.
- Monitoring customer reviews to adjust strategy as necessary
Protecting your online brand during the reputation building phase is impossible without knowing who you’re up against or what they’re saying about you.
Reputation management tools create a detailed profile of your company’s digital footprint, giving you valuable insight into your company’s social media presence.
Reputation Maintenance Phase
After successfully creating a solid online reputation, it takes effort to maintain the results. A company must keep its customers satisfied with the brand’s services, which requires that staff follow up after every transaction.
Long-term success depends on how well companies can balance customer satisfaction with their business goals.
Reputation maintenance is vital as it keeps repeat clients coming back. During this phase, businesses should focus on these areas:
- Monitoring the industry to ensure you don’t fall behind
- Engaging with customers and monitoring feedback regularly through online social media channels
- Promoting the company’s products or services for more exposure
- Keeping customer interactions professional. It is important not to vent anger towards customers on public forums
- Responding to negative comments or reviews that are untrue
Businesses should never fuel rumours but instead keep the focus on building a positive reputation. By focusing on how customers interact with your business, you can determine what needs to be improved and what is going well.
Reputation Recovery Stage
When the unfortunate happens and your business is involved in a damaging online reputation crisis, you have to act quickly. Companies need to protect their brand’s image by using the right tools to monitor what people are saying about their business or organisation.
During this phase, companies must take responsibility for any mistake and make the necessary changes. Businesses should do the following:
- Establish an official presence on social media channels to avoid rumours and miscommunication
- Respond quickly to false reviews- Businesses need to issue statements of clarification explaining their side of the story or fixing mistakes they may have made.
- If bad reviews are persistent, offer coupons or discounts to incentivise customers to give the company another chance.
Once you’ve made mistakes and tried to correct them, it’s time to rebuild your online reputation from the ground up. While some people will likely have written off your business as a whole, there is still a chance for a comeback if you have a solid public relations team that can take advantage of online reputation management tools.
How to Protect Your Online Brand
To protect your online brand, you have to conduct a thorough analysis of your company’s digital footprint, identifying risks and opportunities.
The first step is to create an online profile of your business on various social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+. You can also add individual profiles for key team members or managers that fit into the image you want to project.
Keeping on top of what’s said about your business is easier these days with Google Alerts. Create a Google account and set up alerts for the key terms that would cause problems for your business, such as a product or competitor names. Other ways to do this include:
Monitor Online News Outlets
Once you’ve created a digital footprint, it’s important to monitor online news outlets where customers can find information about your business. Tools such as Google Alerts can help monitor online news outlets.
Still, you’ll also want to use social media monitoring tools that allow you to search for key terms from across the web and engage with customers who are discussing your brand.
Monitor Your Competition
As part of your online brand protection efforts, you also have to monitor your competitors’ faring. For example, a business involved in a product recall will want to know what their competition is saying about the situation and whether there is a chance for increased sales.
If another company’s products aren’t meeting quality standards, you can seize on that opportunity.
Have Set Social Media Policy
Your social media profiles are one area where you should have policies in order. For example, you might want to create a social media policy that outlines what representatives of your company can and cannot say on social media sites.
You can also let consumers know how they can report concerns and ask them to share feedback with you privately before discussing it online. Customer service representatives should also be trained to use online tools such as Twitter to avoid making mistakes that can damage your brand’s reputation.
Stay on Top of Technology
Technology is used as a platform for online reputation management, so you have to stay on top of it. If your business uses a new technology or adapts old technology for new use, consumers will talk about it positively and negatively.
If the negatives outweigh the positives, you might need to adjust your strategy. Also, carefully weigh the effects of onboarding new technology.
Clients want to know that they’re receiving value when working with a company. You can build that perception by offering value-added services, coupons or discounts. For instance, you can organise same-day deliveries at little or no extra cost. When customers give your business another chance after a poor initial experience, it can lead to higher sales in the future.
Make sure you have quality products, reputable services and transparent dealings. That way, you won’t have to worry about negative reviews or comments on social media sites affecting future business.
Correct Mistakes Fast
Don’t wait until customers give negative reviews about a bad experience or issue with you. Instead, monitor your service delivery and comments about your business, then correct problems quickly to avoid the negative feedback spiralling out of control. If a customer’s expectations aren’t met immediately, find out why and see if a pattern can be addressed in the future.
If possible, find a way to sort out the issues away from the public. However, once the problem is solved, let your audience know and encourage the customer to address it online. You can take advantage of this by marketing your products and portraying your excellent customer support services. It’s also essential to learn how to respond to negative reviews.
Do not act too defensive about the bad review, as that sends negative signals to consumers looking for information about your company before purchasing. To achieve this:
- You have to pay a lot of attention to online review sites
- Appreciate your users for leaving the reviews, whether positive or negative
- Accept the mistakes
- Don’t delete the comments because it is against the customers’ rights
- Directly address the disgruntled customer
- Deal with the issue offline
- Offer a favourable solution
Deal with Issues from the Root Source
Unfavourable reviews indicate issues in your company you need to pay attention to. The problems can include:
- The way you do business
- The products or services you offer
- Prices and shipment process
Unhappy employees can also lead to poor service delivery. If productivity, motivation and morale are low, service quality might decline.
How Do Negative Reviews Affect Business?
A negative review here and there makes your online reputation more believable because it’s impossible to have 100% positive feedback. However, note that repetitive negative feedback can significantly affect your business reputation. The reviews can:
- Make it hard to attract new clients
- Drive away current customers
- Lead to legal issues
- Sour the capacity of your business to operate in the future
- Damage the morale of your employees because they feel like their work isn’t enough
Although it may seem complicated, you need to focus on the positive aspects of your company if you want to build up a positive reputation. It includes promoting satisfied customers and highlighting successful projects. For example, you could share their reviews with the rest of your audience or feature them in a monthly newsletter.
A more stress-free way to deal with negative customer reviews is by using an online reputation management company that can help correct past mistakes and influence future positive feedback.
As established companies will confess, protecting the online business image can be challenging. With time and effort, you’ll manage to build a more extensive client base by taking steps to protect your online brand.