It happens to every company sooner or later. Something horrific happens and people are talking about you for all the wrong reasons. It may have been a customer interaction that went bad or an ad that accidentally offended a group you didn’t take into account.
Now you are sitting in your office while social media is blowing up and you are losing potential customers every minute. 88% will take the time to read reviews, so rather than sticking your head in the sand, it’s time to take action. The art of moving quickly will ensure that your online reputation stays protected.
And this is how to do it.
Who Have You Upset?
For a startup to succeed, the first port of call is to pinpoint exactly who you have upset. It may be a single customer or it may be an entire group. Once you pinpoint the source of the problem, figure out exactly how this negative PR managed to spread. Sometimes it can come from a Facebook page or, heaven forbid, a dedicated website.
After you find out where the offended party is and what they have done to bring attention to how you messed up you know what channel you need to apologize on, who the person is, and what happened.
Remember that a lot of managers and CEOs have no idea what happened because the incident happened on one of the lower levels of the company.
Address the Victim
You should address the victim within 24 hours of finding out about the problem. Since your online reputation is at stake, you need to make this apologetic interaction public. In fact, you should send both a private message and a public message. Private messages are good, but they don’t show your wider audience that you want to make things right.
First of all, apologize for what happened. Then you should offer some sort of recompense. This could come in the form of a refund or some sort of discount. Finally, you need to make it clear that you are going to take steps to make sure that this will never happen again. Detail what you intend to do and don’t come up with a lazy corporate apology.
The Problem On Your End
It takes two to make a problem. You need to build your online reputation again before you run out of time, and the only way to do that is to take firm, public action on your end. The way you do this is find the source of the problem within your company.
It could be the marketing manager who signed off on a controversial ad or a grumpy customer support agent. Speak to them about what has happened and tell them that how they acted was unacceptable.
But should they be fired?
This depends entirely on their past history and the scale of the error. If they brought your company to its knees, and they have done it before, they should be removed from their position. You are running a business not a charity and you can’t afford to keep these people working for you.
Will it Repair All the Damage?
It should be mentioned that just because you act quickly doesn’t mean that you’re going to solve all the damage caused. There are some people who will never deal with you again. That’s a fact you have no choice but to accept. But most members of the general public tend to show mercy and they will give you another change.
It’s your job to make sure the same problem never raises its ugly head again because if it does you will have gone back on your word.
The best way to protect your online reputation is to not make mistakes that damage it in the first place. There’s no doubt that it will come under threat from external sources that are out of your control, but there are things that are certainly in your control.
Last Word – Protection Through Building
Companies can survive mistakes because they have already spent time building up their online reputations. They have started this process from the moment their company opened its doors. One of the facets of maintaining a good public image is to be proactive, not reactive.
You may even want to employ a professional online reputation consultant in order to help you with your reputation building activities. Protecting your brand in this way will ensure that you minimize the damage that can be done to you.
How will you protect your online reputation today?