Preventing a Crisis from Ruining Your Reputation and Brand
Written By: Geoff Williams, CEO & President, 3Ci Global Solutions & CMTV – Coast to Mountain Television
The internet and social media world opens up an overabundance of benefits to your business reputation and brand, but it can also damage your reputation in seemingly irreparable ways should your reputation/brand be the brunt of a crisis. With the internet at your customers’ fingertips, it is easy for social media comments to quickly become viral. Your reputation can rapidly be threatened should you make one wrong decision in a customer’s eyes.
However, when you are involved in a crisis, it is important to lean on that same internet that could be helping to ruin your reputation. Any business in today’s market should have a crisis, business continuity and disaster recovery management plan in place. A critical element of that should be how it manages its reputational and internet branding when it is being threatened by a problem.
Remember, today’s internet will not allow for a ‘no response’ from a crisis stricken business. Your internet brand could make or break your overall reputation, and it is important to reflect your company’s attempt to rectify the crisis through your internet and social media presence.
- Don’t Procrastinate – Respond to Your Critics as Quickly as Possible
One of the most important crisis management tips to defend your reputation and brand during or after a crisis, is to ensure that you are responding to critics as soon as possible and with total transparency and professionalism.
During a crisis situation, your reputation is likely to be discredited in ways you did not think even possible. Social media opens up new windows of opportunities for people to share their complaints against your interests. As soon as one person shares a complaint, others are likely to follow, even if their particular complaint refers to a situation from weeks, months or years past. In simple terms, your enemies love the opportunity to throw a second brick at you.
It is therefore, your responsibility to respond to your complainants quickly. You have the opportunity to dilute some of the backlash by responding to complaints immediately as they come in. You can offer factual information to defend your company, and let your customers know what you are trying to do to fix it.
However, never imply that a customer is wrong or fallacious in his or her complaint. You must handle your responses professionally. Consider creating a Ci6 EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT engineered solution by formulating a crisis management team with methodologies that can really help you in these situations in the future. Learn more here.
You are, of course, naturally going to disagree with many of the complaints issued against your interest. But, it is unwise to express your disagreement or argue with customers in a public forum. Trust me, current and future customers are essentially looking at you to see how your business is handling this current crisis. Make sure they see a professionally calm, cool, and collected team who genuinely want to help right any company wrongdoing.
- Don’t Try to Hide – Be Honest and Transparent
If your reputation is under attack following an incident crisis, it may appear easy to skirt around the issues to avoid the problem and complaints. But this can be disastrous once your customers and audience catch on.
One of the best management tips to help your reputation in the midst of a crisis is to be as open and honest as possible. Remaining silent on key issues will only cause an increase of distrust among your followers or customers. Remember, Toyota and Volkswagen both tried this with disastrous results!
Provide your followers with relevant, current and factual information. Do not be afraid to admit if something went wrong. This will lay a strong foundation of trust in your company. Also, don’t delete any social media posts that have negative comments. In the midst of a crisis, it is important to remain calm and unbiased, even when it relates to your business or organization.
Allow people to say what they need to say to get their problem of their chest. You have the opportunity to reply when you respond professionally and with extreme honesty to their comments. Removing comments that can damage your reputation can actually have a more negative impact on your image when your audience begins to lose trust in your company.
Instead, focus your efforts on being practical, honest and transparent, allowing people to voice their opinions on the factual issues, and apologizing for any wrongdoings on behalf of your business. Then, give clear, detailed information on how you plan to fix the issue(s) for your customers. They want, and have a right, to know what you are doing for them.
- Stop the Lies – Assist the Press With Receiving Factual Information
The press and media can be one of the most damaging outlets to your reputation, but they can also be your best allies, and without a doubt the most helpful. Not all reporters or media outlets seek to find information that breaks a person or company. Many just want to report factual, unbiased information, to do that they must get factual information from several sources.
You are one of the most important sources in providing the information. If your audience sees that you are cooperating with the press, this could positively affect your internet branding after a crisis. However, if you are avoiding the press, or start blaming customers or other businesses for your crisis, this reflects poorly on the company, your management, and your reputation and brand.
Use the power of the press and media to provide the most factual information you can to be fair to your company and your customers. Ensure you support the concerns of your customers and explain what you are doing to fix the problem. Remember; be honest in any shortcomings of your business. This will provide the press and media with accurate information and gain and maintain the trust and sympathy of your audience.
- Respect Your Customers and Keep Them Up to Speed on Developments
Another way to gain customer and public trust when your reputation is suffering is to regularly update them as much possible. They want to know what happened, were their questions answered, and how you plan on handling these difficult and often sensitive situations. Most importantly, they want to know these things as quickly as you!
Especially when social media is involved, a very rapid response is the best response. Prepare yourself to handle a crisis within minutes of the news breaking. Your quick response will show your audience that you care and your company is well-equipped to, and fully intends on, correcting the situation before it escalates out of your control.
Make sure your customers know their concerns are completely valid. Address some of their immediate concerns quickly and respond to them. They want to know that your company values their business and that you will work tirelessly to correct the current situation.
Social media is a great way to keep your customers updated every step of the way. Use this to your advantage to help maintain or repair your reputation and internet presence. Customers will quickly see a company that values itself enough to correct a problem and values its customers high enough to listen to their complaints, concerns, and questions and strives to solve their problems.
Maintaining the integrity of your reputation and brand in a crisis can be suicidal if you try facing the situation unprepared. Remain professional in the face of your critics, be honest, help the press and media report nothing but factual information, and keep your key customers and audience updated frequently. These approaches will instill a sense of trust in your company and will help your reputation and brand flourish and grow during and after a crisis has struck your business.
Please visit www.3ciglobalsolutions.co.uk for more information on how we can help, and/or email: email@example.com and one of our consultants will contact you to confidentially discuss your circumstances.