“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” — Benjamin Franklin
Ben Franklin nailed it. And in times of crisis, it is even easier to fall into this trap.
According to a recent 12-country study, 71% of people say they will stop trusting brands that put profits before people during the Covid-19 crisis.
The question is, what exactly should you be doing to protect and build your brand reputation? What areas should you be focusing on, and where do you begin?
Here are a few suggestions to put into practice:
Demonstrate Ethical Practices
There is plenty of research to show that consumers feel more loyalty towards a brand if the brand shows that it cares about important matters. This could mean spending more time and money on corporate responsibility initiatives, or it could mean communicating care, precision or exclusivity about who a brand sells to. This is especially important if you run a business where verifying customer age is a must, such as online dating companies or businesses selling e-cigarette and vaping supplies.
Putting people over profits when the time calls for it is a big issue for consumers, and any brand should take this strongly into account. And not just when there is a pandemic—but always.
Embrace Online Marketing
Online marketing should be your go-to tool for boosting both brand awareness and reputation. The best part about online marketing is it can be easily tailored to suit your budget and to target the right market with a high level of accuracy. Along with that, the social media aspect provides you with direct access to your customers, along with their thoughts and behaviors.
So be sure to make the most of this by responding in a timely fashion to any engagement that you receive. Think about applying an always-on approach to your online reputation management.
Act on Customer Feedback
There are many ways to gather customer feedback, both positive and negative. This could be done by talking with customers face to face, asking them to complete surveys, or by leveraging social media platforms and their available insights regarding your followers.
Regardless of how you access this feedback, what’s most important is that you act on it. Rectify issues quickly and effectively the moment you receive a complaint or a suggestion and ensure that you tell your employees to keep up the good work when you receive positive comments.
As Dale Carnegie famously put it: “Be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise!” It can go a long way towards inspiring employees to keep putting those smiles on customers’ faces.
It’s always worthwhile to put together guidelines for effective and proactive conflict management. The way your brand receives and deals with negative feedback is key to building and nurturing a positive reputation.
It’s essential that you train your staff to address complaints and conflict in a professional manner, supplying them with the resources they need to rectify problems quickly and with minimal fuss. It could mean the difference between retaining an important client and losing not only the customer, but others further down the line.
One unhappy customer can spread negativity about your brand to countless others. The power of word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) is still a huge consideration today—especially since opinions can be spread faster than ever before online.
Finally, it should go without saying that your brand reputation is your responsibility, which means you have to be in the market every day listening to your customers, measuring their quality of engagement, and responding to issues with ruthless consistency. If you can offer other helpful tips to maintaining and enhancing brand reputation before, during and after a crisis, please feel free to share your advice and brand stories. Please tweet me @TopRightPartner! If you want to continue receiving tips like these, sign up for the TopRight blog, connect with me on LinkedIn and order my book: Marketing, Interrupted where I share many lessons from marketing leaders and their challenges and successes.