Reputation management is the cornerstone of success for businesses worldwide. Unfortunately, what many entrepreneurs forget is that reputation management is an ongoing process that requires the constant investment of time and energy. Below, you will find four fairly generic steps that you can implement and tweak to meet your own business needs.
Step 1: Do the research
Research is always the first step to ideal reputation management. During this phase, you need to carefully browse the Internet to find relevant reviews and conversations that people are initiating in regards to your brand. All kinds of feedback, good or bad, can help you gain knowledge of how potential consumers perceive you and where your company could use improvement.
There are many ways you can start the research process, but the best place is by conducting a basic Google search. From there, check social media websites along with review platforms to see how people feel about your business. You can also use what people are saying about your direct competitors to cater to their needs.
Since your reputation depends on finding all information about your company posted online, you can make the process easier by employing the help of a reputation management tool or service.
Step 2: Create A Personalized Strategy
Now that you have an idea as to how people perceive your brand, you can work from there to improve consumer perception via reputation protection. For example, if your audit shows that most people find your business unfavorable, listen to their feedback and enact the necessary changes to improve consumer experience.
To ensure that you set your business up for success, an ongoing reputation management strategy is important. Below is a list of concepts and ideas that your strategy should address:
*Which of your employees will remain responsible for monitoring your reputation on an ongoing basis?
Assign this task to specific team members because they will need to constantly monitor conversations that pertain to your company. For the most part, choose those team members with customer service skills and experience to handle this task. The reason being that they will need to diffuse negative situations and publicly comment on social media, therefore, having consumer-centric skills is an absolute must!
*How can you decide which comments, stories or reviews require an actual response from your company?
Some “consumers” are trolls looking to rile up company owners versus actually raising awareness of a legitimate problem. These comments are usually considered fake and their sole purpose is to tarnish your reputation. For the most part, however, comments and concerns posted online are actual experiences posted by people, whether good or bad.
Always avoid responding to fake reviews because it’s wholly unnecessary. On the other hand, it’s absolutely crucial to respond to comments that warrant a response, and of course to do so in a professional manner.
Depending on the popularity of your company, you may not have the ability to respond to all consumer complaints, reviews or concerns. In these instances, it makes sense to prioritize which ones warrant a response in a timely manner.
*How should you phrase your responses?
Keep your tone consistent throughout all of your interactions and responses when dealing with consumers. Never respond to complaints harshly and only respond nicely to positive reviews because it makes your company look bad.
Create a guide that your team members can use as a standard for the responses they type. It also helps to establish a crisis management plan that team members can use in case a situation escalates and gets out of hand. During heated conversations, it’s easy to forget the response style guide, and that can once again affect your reputation.
Step 3: Take Action Based On What Consumers Say
Knowing how consumers feel about your brand is the single most effective way to innovate and change public perception. Positive comments reaffirm all of the aspects of your business that you’re handling well. On the other hand, negative comments and common pain points also serve as a glaring reminder which aspects of your business could use further improvement and development.
Customers want to feel heard, which is why it’s crucial to act on the comments and feedback posted by people. It isn’t just good reputation management, but it helps increase the success of your company.
Step 4: Keep Doing What You Do!
Reputation management is an ongoing process that requires action as long as you’re in business. Even if you diffuse one negative situation, it doesn’t mean that your company is all set!
Keep monitoring conversations around your business and tweak the tools you use to gain further insight into what customers want. Listen to the needs of people and change your business practices accordingly.
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