An Ounce of Crisis Prevention
Rob Seas Content Strategist/Copywriter
Businesses live and die by their public reputation. It takes years to build positive perceptions of your brand and street cred among current and prospective customers. Local businesses are especially reliant on positive word of mouth to grow and thrive. And they are particularly vulnerable when talk turns negative. With public perception shaped in real-time by today’s social media and customer reviews, local and even national businesses are one misstep away from an existential PR crisis.
The time to examine your reputation and public perceptions of your brand and business is now, before the crisis. The only certainty is that a crisis will arise at some point. How well is your business positioned to weather that storm? Have you built enough goodwill among customers that many will extend your business the benefit of the doubt in the face of negative reviews and press?
REPUTATION IS AN ASSET THAT CAN BE MANAGED
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do in advance to protect your reputation both online and on the street. Reputation management is a long-term strategy and process. You want to build and protect the reputation of your business by managing positive and negative perceptions. Capitalize on the positive and prevent the negative from metastasizing into crises. Reputation is the sum total of good and bad perceptions of your business among stakeholders (this includes customers, prospective customers, employees, vendors and other stakeholders). It’s important to manage those relationships and perceptions over the long term.
If you haven’t invested in reputation management, here are some steps you can take today to assess and, if needed, shore up the reputation of your business.
Develop Policies to Prevent Crises
Today, information and opinions travel at the speed of light. And the persistent nature of the internet means that opinions about your brand, whether true or false, can live on indefinitely after a crisis. It’s often said that “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Having strong, clear policies in place helps reduce the chances of reputational blunders. Teach employees what’s expected of them when communicating with the public. Good customer service requires consistent messaging, which helps ensure that all customers are treated fairly. Make sure you have procedures in place to escalate complaints quickly to defuse any situation before it reaches the crisis stage.
Social media gives businesses an excellent way to track consumer sentiment. Setting up automated monitoring helps you keep a finger on the pulse of public perceptions and provides an early warning system. And consumers can often be more forthcoming online, giving you honest feedback they may be reticent to deliver in person. Knowing what people are saying can help you determine what’s working and whether any changes are necessary to keep customers happy.
Develop a social media calendar to keep up with today’s fast-paced social media world. A good social media editorial calendar helps businesses anticipate seasonal trends and capitalize on scheduled events. While you want to maintain flexibility to respond to current events and trending topics, calendars help build greater consistency in terms of your brand voice and style rather than posting in a reactive or unplanned way.
Don’t look at your social media calendar as just a planning tool. Follow up to track and measure campaigns across every platform you use. Analyze the information you collect from your social media campaigns and continue to optimize your social media calendar in the future.
As a business owner/manager, your time is too valuable to spend deciding what to post every single day. A well-planned out social media content calendar lets you use your time to plan for the future and focus on other aspects of your marketing strategy.
We have extensive experience developing social media calendars and know how to drive engagement and results.
Practice Great Customer Service
The saying that “the customer is always right” has been around since the turn of the century but remains more relevant than ever. Customers have far more efficient and effective tools to evaluate your business today than in the past. Customer service remains the foundation of a successful business. Whether your customers are consumers or other businesses, you need them more than they need you.
Customer service consistently boosts your bottom line and provides a bulwark of goodwill that protects your business when disaster strikes. A brand with a shaky reputation will find that any incident can snowball and quickly push consumers to turn on the business.
Let Kinetic perform a touchpoint analysis for your business. A touchpoint analysis is a thorough audit of all the points where your business touches customers through three phases: pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase. Within each phase, Kinetic will work with you to identify, assess, and prioritize the high-impact touchpoints.
Develop a Radar for Trouble
While you can’t anticipate every issue, most involve clear signs when viewed in the rearview mirror. Maintaining transparency with customers helps short-circuit these bumps in the road before they become roadblocks. Listening to your customers and communicating openly with them leads to greater understanding in the face of change.
Pay attention to customer reviews featured in local listings. These listings are online profiles that contain your business name, address, phone number, and customer reviews. Search any business name and the local listing will appear prominently in the results.
Having clean, accurate data and positive reviews displaying consistently across local listings is vital to the success of your business. Yet business owners often feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of scores of listing services, many offering little control over customer reviews.
With Kinetic Reputation Management, you get access to the tools and expertise to manage all of your local listings and reviews from one convenient location. No need to login to 40 different websites and endlessly call, text and email customers chasing down reviews. In fact, Kinetic can manage the entire process so that you can focus on creating a great experience for your customers, not managing your online listings.
Reputation management is an ongoing, long-term process and strategy. Make sure you have a plan in place to protect one of your most important business assets.
It all began with a father-son fly-fishing trip at 16 years old, and Rob was hooked on Montana. Growing up in Annapolis, Maryland, it took a little while for him to make his way here for good. But in the meantime, he graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Magazine Journalism, held a variety of editorial positions across the country and worked as a freelance web developer for companies large and small, ranging from startups to international corporations like Visa, The Nature Conservancy, and Levi Strauss & Co.
He still loves to fish – and hunt, work magic in the kitchen… and he’s an artist. All of this experience, worldliness and creativity means that Rob is an incredible Kinetic talent and invaluable asset to the team and our clients.Read more about Rob