Building a reputation takes a long time. While the premise is that the products and services must be good, brands must ensure a positive customer experience to establish a positive brand image. Unfortunately, risks to this image, from negative reviews to natural disasters, are inevitable. So businesses must be prepared to respond to a crisis and protect their reputation and brand image.
What Is Brand Reputation Management?
Consumers generally form an opinion about a brand based on its digital presence. So, online reputation management strategies are the steps taken to influence customer perception. Of course, the goal is to craft a favorable view and increase conversions and sales.
Some people assume managing reputation is the same as public relations (PR). Such an assumption is reasonable as PR campaigns, like reputation protection and management, usually aim to cast a positive view of a brand. So, in typical PR campaigns, specialists focus on pitching stories to leading publications.
The work of online reputation management consultants goes beyond mere journalistic coverage. Instead, they focus on the entire digital presence of a brand, from social media to review sites.
Online reputation management (ORM) generally comprises these three activities:
- Create a positive brand image using the best online reputation management tools to develop and implement an effective ORM marketing plan.
- Counteract or bury negative feedback with more positive reviews so consumers view a brand favorably.
- Continuous online review monitoring to find negative reviews and activate a reputation crisis management plan.
ORM is closely related to digital marketing. So the channels monitored and managed by online reputation management services include websites, social networks and many other online platforms.
Benefits of ORM Marketing and Reputation Protection
These are the advantages of ORM, which include online review monitoring and review generation.
- Enhance Brand Trust and Loyalty. Online reputation management services help brands find and resolve issues. When that happens, up to 80 percent of consumers feel connected to a brand on an emotional level. As a result, they are more likely to trust the brand, turning into loyal customers.
- Improve Brand Credibility. Around 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So one thing an online reputation management company does is collect positive reviews to help build credibility. In doing so, consumers are more likely to buy and spend more.
- Improve Customer Experience and Satisfaction. Businesses can use online reputation management tools to find and resolve negative reviews. As it is, 81 percent of consumers are more likely to buy again because of a positive customer experience.
- Increase Customer Engagement. Companies that invest in omnichannel customer engagement achieved average year-over-year growth of 9.5 percent compared to 3.4 percent for those that did not. So one good thing about having online reputation management strategies is that it entails a company interacting with customers on social networks and other channels.
- Get Testimonials. Consumers are likelier to trust other consumers, which is why among all content marketing strategies, testimonials have the highest effectiveness at 90 percent, according to Social Fresh. Brands can use positive customer feedback using review generation, one of the most effective brand reputation management strategies.
- Attracting Talents. According to a survey, half of the talents said they would not work for a company with a bad reputation. So more companies are hiring the best online reputation management consultants to help build a strong employer reputation. For instance, a company replying to a review is enough to change the opinion of some 70 percent of job-seekers.
What Is Crisis Management?
Crisis management is a response to a disruptive event that threatens an organization. While adverse events are often unpredictable and unforeseen, they may sometimes also be due to a lack of foresight or negligence.
Regardless of the cause, a crisis may spiral out of control, even if it appears not to be a serious concern. In business, such events can cause harm to stakeholders, operations and finances. Under certain circumstances, it may even have legal ramifications.
Brands can reduce or avoid a business crisis by investing in reputation protection. They can, for instance, use the best online reputation management tools to aid in developing a crisis management plan.
So, what is a crisis management plan?
In essence, it refers to the processes or steps of crisis management meant to prepare for and manage any disruptive or unexpected adverse event that can harm a business. For example, a negative review can turn away many potential customers. In response, the brand could use a reputation crisis management strategy to resolve an issue before it goes out of hand. Thus, a crisis management plan is a part of online reputation management strategies.
Benefits of Having Concrete Steps for Crisis Management
While it is impossible to account for everything that can go wrong, having a crisis management plan is better than nothing. Here are some of the reasons that illustrate its importance to businesses:
1. Helps Define a Crisis, and the People in Charge, if It Occurs
It is impossible to predict or prevent all crises, but businesses can watch for signs and prepare. For instance, companies can begin preparations to prevent damage to property if an intense hurricane is expected in a few days.
Most crises that businesses encounter, though, are not natural disasters. Instead, some could result from human error, equipment failure and anything under the sun. Regardless, one thing for sure is that managing a crisis is confusing and inefficient if no one is in charge.
In creating a crisis management plan, one essential task is deciding who the decision makers are and who will manage the crisis.
2. Avoid Legal Repercussions
From minor to major events, one of the possible aftermaths is criticisms of its handling. In worst-case scenarios, it may even have legal ramifications. A crisis management plan helps reduce mistakes as the actions to be taken are outlined or detailed.
3. Essential to Brand Reputation Protection
No matter how minor a problem is, it can cause irreparable harm. Take negative reviews, for instance. Even one can drive consumers to buy from competitors. According to ReviewTrackers, up to 94 percent of consumers avoided a business because of a bad review.
A crisis management plan, as part of brand reputation management, not only prepares for a crisis. It also helps a company keep its reputation, thus mitigating customer attrition and financial losses.
4. Attract and Keep Employees
No one saw a pandemic coming in 2020. Yet, it did, revealing that most businesses have no preparations against an outbreak. Since then, many companies have adopted a crisis management plan against COVID-19.
As if hiring talent is not already challenging enough, employee attrition is also at an all-time high. So during the pandemic, companies must incorporate health protocols to protect their employees. Without one, candidates may choose to work for another company that offers a safer working environment.
5 Reasons Why Businesses Fail To Respond to a Crisis
The most apparent reason for failing to respond to a crisis is that there was no crisis management plan when an adverse event occurred. But worse is asking some companies, “what is crisis management” and they do not know the answer.
So, what are some of the most common reasons companies don’t respond to crises?
- The management never thought about it, so there is the mistaken belief that “it cannot happen to them.”
- A lack of appreciation for the importance of crisis management. Many aspects of a business are indeed priorities, so that is where companies focus their resources.
- In relegating crisis management as an afterthought, some companies fail to conduct a comprehensive risk analysis of their entire operation. These companies, in other words, are not even aware of the possible risks and consequences.
- The lack of preparedness leads to some companies failing to see the warning signs. Sometimes, it may also be due to neglect. Either way, their ignorance of such matters is one reason not to think about developing crisis management plans.
- Some companies try to be proactive in preparing for adverse events. But their plans are either weak or untested. Once a real crisis occurs, only then are the flaws revealed.
7 Steps of Crisis Management Planning
These are the steps a company takes to develop crisis management plans. Remember that there might be a need to repair damages to its brand reputation after each situation.
1. Identify Crises
There is no one plan for all crises, so companies must cover all possible types of emergencies.
Some possible business crises are:
- Natural disasters
- Financial crisis
- Personnel crisis
- Organizational crisis
- Technological crisis
2. Determine How Each Crisis Impacts the Business
Each crisis negatively impacts the business, its employees, customers and possibly the public. So, by quantifying the consequences, companies can make the necessary preparations to mitigate the risks.
Some of the areas that need thorough consideration are:
- Customer dissatisfaction and attrition
- Increased expenditure
- Decreased sales and revenue
- Tarnished reputation
3. Determine the Best Method To Deal With Each Crisis
The next step in developing crisis management plans is to choose the most suitable method.
Some of the more common ones are:
- Proactive Crisis Management. Companies can use this method to prepare for seasonal natural crises like hurricanes.
- Responsive Crisis Management. Companies can use the Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) to develop responses to specific types of crises.
- Recovery Crisis Management. These are the steps to recover from damages (or injuries) incurred due to a crisis.
4. Identify Who Will Be in Charge of Crisis Response
Organized crisis response is the most efficient way to handle a situation. Hence, identifying specific employees or teams in charge of particular crises helps prevent inaction or inadequate response.
5. Develop a Plan of Action To Resolve Each Crisis
The first four steps, from identifying possible crises, determining their impacts, choosing the ideal crisis response method and placing the individual or team in charge of each situation, lead to this step – developing a detailed, systematic plan of action.
As each crisis has nuances, it is necessary to craft one for each. Yet, they also share some similarities. So, consider these factors for each crisis management plan:
- The time it takes to resolve the crisis.
- Tools and resources needed for the resolution of the problem.
- The people who should or will be responsible or involved.
- Managing or shaping customer opinion and experience.
6. Conduct Training Involving All Stakeholders of Crisis Response
It is not enough to brief the people involved in crisis management. They also need training, which companies can do through meetings and practical sessions. For more complex events, companies can also consider bringing in experts.
Generally, companies can brief their employees on how to respond to a potential problem. A simple example is letting them know whom to report to if they come across a negative post or comment on social media. This way, the customer service or reputation management team can respond quickly.
7. Review and Update Crisis Response Plan Regularly
The dynamics of a company may change over time. For instance, there may be many more employees than when the company first made plans. Or, there may be changes in the structure of the working space. So to stay ahead in preparations for a crisis, it is best to revisit the plans and revise them as needed.
Managing Crisis Is Also Managing Reputation
It is usual for problems to occur in business. While most are preventable, others are outside their control. At any rate, these disruptions can affect operations, customer relationships and sales. For this reason, companies must also invest time and resources in developing crisis management plans to handle adverse situations.
Assuming that a company resolves a crisis, there remains one problem – reputation. Even minor issues, such as negative reviews on social media, can damage its reputation, thus entailing a response. In this case, it would be best to have a reputation crisis management plan.
An online reputation management company can help protect your brand in the digital space. If you want to know how to enhance or repair your reputation, call 866.325.0303. Our online reputation management consultants will be more than happy to answer all your questions.