A business’s reputation is a very important asset. Whether you create products to sell or offer a unique service to your customers, what the public thinks about your company directly affects your business. Your reputation dictates whether a consumer will buy your product or service, refer you to others in person or online, or bring your company repeat business.
That’s why a poor reputation can be so damaging to a company’s growth. Just one bad review can seriously hurt a business’s sales, marketing campaigns, day-to-day business operations, partnerships, and much more. It’s a cascading effect that can be tough to halt and fix.
Think about how various departments are affected by a hit to your company’s reputation: your customer support team likely has to work overtime to try and control the damage. Sales go down, the number of new leads decrease, and you have to reevaluate your budget for the quarter. If a specific product in question is at the heart of customer issues, maybe you have to ship a lot of product replacements, eating into your shipping and inventory costs. And if things get really bad, your legal team may have to deal with some serious complaints.
Luckily, all hope is not lost when your company suffers from a poor reputation. There are steps you can take to rebuild your reputation.
1. Identify the cause
There’s a reason why your business currently has a poor reputation, and before you can do anything else to fix it, you have to figure out what the reason is. Get to the root of the problem so you can tackle it efficiently without wasting any more time or resources.
For example, let’s say you think complaints are stemming from poor customer service, so you spend more resources hiring and training your customer service team. While it’s great that you want your team to be the best it can be, customers are actually upset because the products they’re ordering are arriving damaged or malfunctioning. The real problem is how they’re being shipped, or the product design itself. That’s what you need to fix in order to reverse your reputation.
2. Create a plan to monitor and manage bad press
Come up with a plan to deal with bad reviews and customer complaints. It’s much less risky than figuring out how to respond to something on the fly. Once you’ve pinpointed the root cause as we previously discussed, you can then think about the best way to handle the problems.
Sometimes this can be a time-consuming process to manage your reviews or gather better reviews on your own, which is where working with an online reputation management tool can help!
3. Take responsibility and apologize
If staying silent isn’t an option, start controlling the conversation as soon as you can. Admit that you messed up and explain what happened. Apologize sincerely, don’t get defensive, and don’t blame others. If your customer complaints share common pain points, address them in your apology and explain how you’ll do better in the future.
4. Focus on the customers
Once you start controlling what people see about your company online, don’t forget to focus on the customers. A happy customer might tell a couple of people about their positive experience, while an unhappy customer might tell ten people. Seek out customers who need help resolving an issue or want someone to hear their complaint. Help them and ensure that they leave your interaction satisfied. And of course, try to help unhappy customers first, and help them quickly.
Likewise, celebrate customers who leave you positive reviews, too. Thank happy customers for their reviews on your social media pages. If you can, reward loyal customers with small perks like exclusive content, discounts, or free swag. Share good press from other sources on your website. Spotlight testimonials on your blog. This will help overtake negative press and search results online, making it harder for people to find and see them.
5. Ask for feedback
A great way to reverse a poor reputation is to ask customers for feedback. How can you improve? What do they want to see your company do in the future? Accept feedback sincerely, and when you’re given a great idea, use it! This strategy changes the perception of your company. You’re no longer a company that messed up, but you’re a company that’s open, honest, and willing to listen to its customers.
6. Finally, be patient
These steps aren’t a quick fix to get your good reputation back. The process takes time and patience. However, once you’ve identified the problem, created a plan of attack, apologized sincerely, and made amends with your customers, you’ll start to see your reputation change. Once you’ve gotten a good brand reputation back, document everything that happened and how you fixed it. It may help you form a strategy for protecting your business from something similar happening in the future.