Living in a digital world is exciting, and often a little daunting. We all un-tag ourselves from unbecoming pictures, cross our fingers that a potential employer doesn’t stumble across those pictures from that one party in college, and hope that new potential love interest doesn’t come across that photo before we lost the freshman 15 and discovered the beauty in concealer. But what about the business world? If an organization experiences a PR blunder, can that hiccup ever truly be buried, or does it prevail forever on the world-wide web?
Unfortunately, we cannot permanently erase an event that has been publicly documented online, but that doesn’t mean reputation management tactics can’t be employed to help generate a more likable and trusted public image for your organization.
Let’s discuss some proactive steps you can take to ensure that your organization is reputable and respected in the community, even before a blunder strikes.
Develop a Consistent Presence
Let’s talk search engines. A friend gives you the name of that groovy new coffee shop that opened down the street, what do you do? You search for it on your preferred search engine. You search for the address, ratings, reviews, website, menu and any other pertinent information you can get your inquisitive hands on. So, if a potential customer is looking for your business online, shouldn’t you ensure that your business has a positive presence across popular search engines?
Let’s look at Google, for example. Google offers the service, Google My Business, which allows users the ability to aggregate all of their locations into one space, and update each individual location with the correct business hours, location, phone number and more. This is crucial to ensuring that a potential customer, or current customer, associates an organization as a reputable source with a known public presence. The more consistent and positive information a consumer can collect about an organization, the more likely they are to trust that it is a dependable source for a good or service.
Address Negative Reviews and Debunk False Accusations
Let’s face it. All organizations experience negative feedback on some level, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid negativity completely. Perhaps an impatient customer goes to make a transaction with a store representative who is having a particularly bad day. It is possible that the customer won’t receive the anticipated and desired level of customer service, which could potentially lead to a poor evaluation on a review platform.
Let’s stick with the customer service example. Regardless of who was in the right, a business should always apologize to a customer for the perception of poor service they received. It is important to address the issue in the most optimal way, and offer the dissatisfied customer a line of communication, if necessary. Have a customer service center? Direct them there! If a consumer is vocalizing false information about your organization that could be tarnishing your brand, respond with an educational response that informs them of why there was a misconception, and offer assistance as needed.
Apply for Awards
Awards are awesome tools for communicating how great an organization is, and they help solidify the validity of an organization’s reputation. Awards also set you apart from competitors, reinforce your organization as a credible leader in your industry, and generate additional visibility for your brand. Consumers are more likely to trust the organization that has a third-party endorsement, as opposed to the organization who does not have awards to reinforce their claims.
Check out more about the importance of awards here, and don’t hesitate to apply for awards you firmly believe could position your business as a credible leader in your industry.
Reputation management is crucial for businesses of all size. Bad reviews and negative feedback are inevitable, no matter how efficiently and effectively your organization is at what it does, but you should actively strive to ensure that the good outweighs the bad. Dig deeper into the areas where your organization is struggling, and construct a strategic plan on how you can combat any issues before they expand.