In business, it often takes a lot of time and effort to build a rock-solid reputation. In this age of advanced technology, it is even more critical to preserve your corporate reputation and make sure that nothing touches it.
Although it takes years to build your business’s reputation, it takes very little time to destroy it. When it comes to the combination of social media and corporate reputations, it is critical that you move cautiously so that absolutely nothing occurs that will in any way harm what you have managed to build. An extremely large part of your excellent reputation comes from word-of-mouth interactions. With the volume of information that is being shared through social media (as well as the speed at which it is shared), it is difficult (or possibly even impossible) to control what is being said and what is being exchanged. As a business owner, this is difficult if you are used to being able to have some control over what other people are allowed to know.
The best that you can hope for is that you keep the damage to your reputation to a minimum. Of course, the next question that comes to mind is how you can manage to accomplish that.
Many times, the Customer Service department of a business is the weakest link. If a customer service department is not up to par, it is very easy for people online to damage the reputation of the company. Customer Service is one area where businesses have had issues over the years and on the other side of the coin, if a Customer Service department has a good reputation, it can really enhance (or strengthen) the reputation of the business. Regarding Customer Service, it is critical that the department makes good on its promises. With transparency being so high on the list of values that businesses are purporting, if there is an issue with the customer service of a business, many people will learn about it very quickly. If that happens, it is critical that the top people in the business do damage control as quickly as possible. Sweeping the issue under the rug is not an option. It needs to be addressed and forgotten as soon as possible. It is very important for a business to make its customers understand clearly that their concerns are at the top of the priority list.
If something unfortunate happens to one of your customers, it is very important that you make them happy, even if it is after the fact. It will be a demonstration that you and your business care about them on a human level. If you don’t do that, you are running the risk of making the customer angry and potentially giving them the opportunity to bash your business in some way, which can be very damaging potentially.
Avoiding a crisis
If you are faced with an issue, you must deal with it very, very quickly. If you don’t, you very well may be sorry. On the other hand, however, you don’t want to respond with too much information. You want your response to be effective and you want it to show that you are sincerely sorry for what occurred. Remember to be genuine and really mean it when you apologize.
Visit the past when necessary
Social media serves many valuable purposes and is an extremely effective and powerful communication tool. If an error has occurred, you should admit your mistake to your customers and communicate whichever solution you have devised to fix the problem. Being proactive is of the utmost importance and it will be the difference between retaining your customers and losing them.
Keep the lines of communication open
A blog is an effective way to communicate. If you can educate, inform, and entice through your blog writing about your business, you will always have a way of staying connected to your customers. As always, it is about building relationships with them.
Establish yourself as an influencer
You have the potential to establish yourself as an influencer. It will take consistent (and persistent) effort on your part but it is sure to pay off. Once you have established your reputation, people will think of you first when they need that specific type of information.
Your corporate reputation must be protected at all costs. It is more difficult to do that because of how easy it is now to communicate online anonymously. It certainly doesn’t mean that it is impossible to protect your reputation. It is critical that you monitor your business’s reputation on a very regular basis and control whatever damage occurs as early as possible. Do it effectively and do it quickly. It just means that you need to adjust your approach and take all of the new variables into account.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.
Mr. Cohn is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).