Since the emergence and proliferation of the Internet, the idea of reputation management has become increasingly important. Thirty years ago, a consumers’ bad experience with a brand might only have been shared with their immediate friends and family. Today, however, people voice their complaints publicly online for millions of other potential customers to see. But it’s not all negative and the reverse is also true. Customers’ positive experiences with businesses can also be shared online easily.
In trying to develop an effective reputation management strategy, it’s important to respond effectively to both of these eventualities. By maximising the impact of your good reviews, and rectifying the bad ones, you can do wonders for brand image.
In this article we will discuss the foundations needed for an effective reputation management strategy, to help you achieve this.
In short, reputation management is the act of improving the consumer perception of your brand. Accordingly, a reputation management strategy is the specific plan you develop to achieve this.
There are four key foundations to developing a successful reputation management strategy. These are:
- Monitoring the consumer perception of your brand.
- Formulating a response plan.
- Actively searching for good reviews.
- Handling the negative reviews
- Measuring your results.
Find out how you can apply each of them to your own company below.
Before you can begin to influence the consumer perception of your business, you first need to establish what exactly these perceptions are. The Internet is replete with forums, websites, and social media platforms that people can use to discuss brands.
Staying up to date with your mentions across all the different channels may understandably seem an overwhelming task. But there are now numerous tools available to help you collate what people are saying about you online. A good starting point is to set up Google and Bing alerts. These free services will inform you every time specified words or phrases are found on the web. Simply make your brand name and any product titles the search terms. From there, you’ll be notified whenever the search engines find uses of the specified words.
However, as effective (and cheap) as these tools are, they do not provide a comprehensive online analysis of your mentions. To gain a thorough understanding of when and how people are mentioning your brand, you can employ the help of specialist tools. There are many to choose from, with each offering different features for different prices.
For example, you can implement powerful social media reputation monitoring tools to see who is talking about you and where (e.g., blogs, news media, social networks). The best ones even provide an overview of the sentiment of the mentions. That is, whether people are speaking in a positive or negative light about your brand.
Once you know what’s being said about you online, you need to work out how best to respond. It’s important that you establish internal guidelines on how your company engages with mentions. If you have a customer support or PR team, then this will probably fall within their remit. However, it’s important that whoever’s job it is to respond has a clear understanding of your brand’s tone and style.
For instance, should you make an effort to respond to every single mention of your company on social media? If someone is extremely angry about your product or service how should this be handled? What’s the best way to interact with satisfied customers?
Make sure that the person or team whose job it is to deal with mentions and reviews has clear answers to all of these questions. It’s also worthwhile to ensure that there is a clear ‘chain of command’ with regards to difficult situations. This way your team will always know who to go to when a potentially damaging and time-critical incident occurs.
Resting on your laurels and simply hoping for good reviews to come flooding in won’t be effective. It’s important to actively search for good reviews, making sure to share the feedback far and wide, where possible. It goes without saying that this sheds your company in the best light and strengthens your brand.
One way of encouraging happy customers to share their experiences is by directly asking for reviews. This is where a platform like Repuso takes the process of collecting quality customer feedback to another level with its review request routing tool.
If, for example, you use TripAdvisor to broadcast your customer satisfaction, you can leverage Repuso to route all the good reviews you receive directly to TripAdvisor, while any negatives ones are ushered to your Repuso account. You can easily do this through a dedicated landing page that asks customers about their interaction with your business. A good representation of how this page might look is shown below, but you’ll have full control over the customization.
Find out how to painlessly integrate Repuso with TripAdvisor in our detailed article – How To Get More Positive Reviews.
It is just as important to limit the impact on any negative reviews that you receive. In the same way that the Repuso review request routing tool helps you showcase the great customer experiences, it makes it much easier to manage bad ones that could harm your reputation.
Carefully analyse the bad reviews that are routed to your Repuso account, and look upon them as opportunities to engage with customers and improve your service. Adopting the right approach here, will win over more disgruntled customers and demonstrate publicly that you are committed to quality service.
You also need to ensure that you address the concern. Attentively listen to the complaints and do everything you can to rectify the situation. Thereafter clearly explain to the customer how you’ve addressed the problem. It shows your commitment to customers and alleviates worries that may otherwise arise in other customers who see the interaction online.
Now that you’ve enacted a plan to strengthen your reputation, you need to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. This step is often overlooked but is just as important as the first three to drive long-term, sustainable results. Make sure you establish a structured system, which includes the way you will measure results, the most important metrics for your specific brand, and the frequency of reporting among others.
Analyze how the results change over time to establish where improvements can be made. It’s not a one-time activity but a continuous effort. This will ensure you see a steady increase in positive brand mention across the various online channels. And that equates to a successful reputation management strategy.
Monitoring the consumer perception of your brand, formulating a response plan, actively searching for good reviews, handling any negative ones, and measuring the results are the foundation of an effective reputation management strategy. By adhering to these key principles, you can take greater control of the narrative online and make your brand image stronger than ever in 2021.