These days, your online reputation can be like a rollercoaster, with customers openly discussing their positive and sometimes negative experiences with your company. With the speed of the Internet, consumers are using all types of resources to express themselves, whether it is through a review site like Yelp, your Google Places Page, or social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. According to research performed by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, though an unhappy customer will typically tell 9-15 people about a bad experience, 96% of these customers will buy from you again and refer you IF you act swiftly to solve their issue (Berg).
A reputation management strategy is crucial for your business, without question. Without a reputation management plan, your brand’s image may not return from the long downward loop of the rollercoaster ride. To prepare for a crisis or recover from a crisis, follow these five tactics:
1) You Can Never Be Too Prepared – Like a counselor will say, “you can never be too prepared for your job interview,” such is the case with your reputation management strategy. If you don’t take the time and effort to create your reputation management plan, then you’re quite likely to panic when an actual crisis occurs. For your plan, you should identify your stakeholders, outline your messaging to these stakeholders, and determine the media channels you will use to display your messaging.
2) Appreciate Your Loyal Customers – Loyal customers can be tough to find, especially because people have so many options when it comes to their purchasing decisions. So don’t forget to reward your devoted clients. If you’re in the process of brand reconstruction, consider out-of-the-box opportunities to re-engage your previous customers like special events, contests, and giveaways.
3) Motive Them To Come Back – If you have made a mistake with a customer, you have to prove your value again so you don’t lose him or her altogether. How can you prove your value? Offer incentives that can’t be passed up. For example, you could offer a free product or service or a discount off the product or service. An even better offer is to give away a coupon for their next purchase (I’ve been sold on that one before). When a customer feels like they’re saving money, especially in this economy, you’re making them feel better and have a more positive association with your brand.
4) Make Your Brand Human – Even though our society has shifted to a digital world, people still want to feel like they’re interacting with humans instead of an online robot. If your company faces a crisis, address unhappy customers by their first name and aim to get them on the phone or in person instead of an email or direct mail. Hearing a customer’s voice is the next best thing to seeing them. And when you do speak to an unhappy customer, be sincere and upfront about what happened and how you are going to fix the problem because lies will come back to haunt you.
5) Use Diverse Media Channels To Reach Them – You can’t assume one particular media channel will be best to execute your reputation management plan. Contemplate your customer base---what do their preferred media channels consist of? Using a blended approach enables your messaging to be seen in all places where your customers interact.
The essential ingredient in a solid reputation management plan is timely responsiveness. If you can act fast to alleviate your customers concerns and problems, then you’re halfway there. The second half is convincing them to choose your brand the next time they’re ready to make a purchase.
What does your reputation management plan look like and what media channels are incorporated into your plan? Share your thoughts in a comment!
About Alan Moore: Alan is an Internet Marketing Consultant with ReachLocal Baltimore. His mission is to help you increase your revenues and decrease unproductive advertising expenses through proven, online marketing strategies. He manages over $1.4 million in yearly marketing budgets and has workedwith local businesses, agencies and the US government. Give him a call at (877)655-3438 to schedule a free consultation.
Read more about reputation management here: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2011/6586/six-steps-for-rebuilding-your-brand-after-a-crisis