We’ve all seen the reactive approach to brand management. Most people call it “crisis management.”
Crisis management usually involves someone making a big mistake — a flight passenger is forced to exit the plane, a high-level employee posts something inappropriate about his company on a social network, a politician is caught in a lie — and marketing and public relations folks scramble to manage the fallout.
In such cases, reputation is most certainly at stake. But keeping your good reputation intact in the face of crisis management is much easier if you start on a high note.
Hedging Your Bets with Positive Customer Sentiment
The concept is straightforward: A company known for bad customer support could be wiped off the map with a single negative experience shared online. A bad review can quickly make the “Trending Now” list. Pretty soon, everyone who has ever had a bad experience with that company is chiming in, fanning the fire with their own negative comments.
But the opposite is true if people already feel good about your brand.
Take Apple, for instance. The company has an amazing reputation among consumers for making products and software that are beautifully designed and easy to use.
Imagine an Apple Store employee gets into a shouting match with a customer and writes a negative review about his experience.
Even though the incident has the potential to impact the brand, it’s likely Apple fans everywhere would rebuke this negative review. Some might be quite vocal. The effect of the review would be minimal at best, because Apple users — already convinced of the quality and capabilities of Apple computers and the level of customer service at each location — wouldn’t give it much credence.
That’s the power of a good reputation. A proactive approach to building a strong online reputation is essential to maintaining your company’s brand perception among your customers and prospects when something bad happens.
Don’t Wait ‘Till It’s Too Late
According to ZenDesk, 95 percent of people who have a bad interaction with a brand are more likely to share their experience with others. But 89 percent of consumers would give companies a second chance before giving up on them for good. This holds true only if your reputation is solid.
To ensure a proactive approach to managing your online reputation, reputation management strategies have to be baked into your marketing budget.
Below are some ways you can proactively manage customer perceptions and sentiment about your brand:
Ask customers to submit online reviews immediately following a location visit or interaction. Some Online Reputation Management (ORM) platforms have mobile apps that make it easy for frontline reps to request reviews before a customer leaves a location. This increases response rates by up to 15X.
Send out customer surveys by email or mail that ask customers more explicit or detailed questions about their experience with your company and locations.
Use social media to proactively engage with your community. Online conversations on social networks like Facebook and Twitter can reveal lots of useful and actionable information about your locations, the service your company provides and how customers feel about your brand. Pay attention, and let the voice of the customer shed light on your strengths and weaknesses. Then use the information to improve service levels and the overall customer experience.
Once you have feedback from your customers, look for trends or recurring issues and take action. Advanced analytics can help you narrow your focus on the improvements that will help boost customer sentiment while heading off negative reviews at the pass.
Check out this word cloud that highlights most-used phrases in online reviews across the social web. You can click on a word and see actual text from reviews. This information helps you drill down to key issues and determine best next actions to correct them.
Alternatively, you may discover customers are praising certain aspects of your business, and you can work to strengthen and standardize what works across all your locations.
Act Quickly, and Take Feedback to Heart
Keep in mind, 95 percent of unhappy people will return to a business if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently, so taking customer feedback seriously and acting on it is the best approach.
When consumers see you take customer feedback to heart, and you’re working proactively to address concerns, they’ll be in your court if something bad happens, and your good reputation will be much more likely to prevail.
Keep Reading: Customer Feedback Management: A Must-Have Technology