Your Business is Your Reputation: Protect It

In the past, businesses relied on word of mouth and well-crafted advertisements to create a public image, but the information age has changed that immensely. With social networking, websites, and other means of instantaneous communication, your online reputation as a business is crucial. Businesses must stay continuously conscious of their image and cultivate a positive image while keeping an eye out for any crisis that may impact their reputation negatively.

Indicators of Organizational Reputation

  • Customer focus: Is an organization committed and does it care
    for its clientele? Do customers say positive things about you? 
  • Employees: Does the organization treat its employees well? Are staff
    members qualified and able? Is the workplace appealing?
  • Social responsibility: Does the organization participate in good
    causes?
  • Financial performance: Are you profitable with growth prospects?
  • Management: Is there an excellent and visionary managerial team
    in place?
  • Reliability: Does your company offer excellent and consistent products and services?
  • Emotional appeal: Do people feel good about your organization?
  • Ethics: Does the corporation behave responsibly and ethically?
    Can it be trusted?
  • Leadership: A market leader is always seen more positively than
    a follower.
  • Quality: Do you offer quality goods and services?

 

Your reputation is a valuable, intangible asset with a significant impact on your company’s bottom line. How can you best cultivate, manage and protect this asset?

Have Your Ears on the Ground

Proactively track everything that is being said about you, and get on it before it goes viral. There are several software programs in the market today that give you alerts when your company is mentioned online. Another method, depending on the size and resources of your firm, is to have a social-media manager monitor what is said out there in order to get ahead of any gossip or negative information before it develops a life of its own.

Talk to Your Audience

Do not underestimate the power of online communication via your social media or your website. Encourage reviewers to share customer experiences about your brand. You’ll get to not only know what the undercurrent is but also measure your success and pinpoint areas for improvement. Keeping in mind that much of your reputation comes from reviews, be tactful in how you handle negative reviews. Ignoring unflattering reviews is not an option.

Highlight the Positive

Use your social platforms to promote the positive. Demonstrate the kind of employer you are, broadcast the CSR activities you channel resources toward, showcase your new products and innovations, announce your compliance with regulations, and highlight your environmental-conservation efforts. Bring attention to anything that portrays your company in the best light.

Be Ready for the Negative

Despite your best efforts, a crisis may come. The best time to formulate a communication plan is not when you’re in the eye of a storm. Always have a crisis-management and communication plan ready. In the event of a crisis, who speaks for the company and to whom? Have a detailed strategy in place.

How to Repair a Damaged Reputation

Thanks to social media, Online Reputation Management (ORM) is now a $5 billion industry. While engaging an ORM firm is one way to go, there are several go-tos when you have to turn the situation around quickly. The first one is to acknowledge and take ownership. Do not attempt to shift the blame to the customer.

Next, issue an apology. Do not delay or refuse to offer one, which will only aggravate the situation. After that, focus on solutions. Whether it is a defective product or poor service, an insensitive comment made online, or even an error by an employee, focus on solutions. Under the right circumstances, a great approach would be to ask your customers for ideas to help you rectify and improve the overall experience. This not only gives them a chance to add their voice but it also re-establishes trust and reaffirms your commitment to your customers. 

It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. Planning ahead will allow you to make sure that your reputation is protected and under control if something happens to it. 

Planning for how to protect your company’s reputation is important, but it’s also important to have a plan for your whole business. Contact us for a consultation to help you with your business plan!

 



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