The success of your business and subsequent livelihood are greatly affected by the reputation you maintain as a business person. Even when you work hard to establish a solid reputation by providing good service and excellent products, your efforts can be sabotaged by the words and actions of one disgruntled customer, jealous competitor or vengeful former employee.
When someone decides to spread gossip, lies or horrible feedback about you and your business, it can take months or years to clean up and recover from the damage. According to SmartPlanet, social viruses can cause one negative situation to quickly go viral and wreak havoc on a business, especially when one company tries to manipulate the power of social media in an effort to ruin a competing company. Although proactivity is the best tactic where your business reputation is concerned, if it’s too late and the damage has already been done, these five strategies can help you recover, repair and live with the situation until it’s been rectified.
Respond to Negative Feedback & Comments. Lack of response is often taken as an admittance of guilt. Respond professionally and politely to negativity on the internet or in-person. When people come across negative feedback on the internet, they’ll immediately see your positive follow-up, which puts you in a good light.
Fix Mistakes. If the damage is the result of a company mistake, fix it ASAP. Enlist help, if needed, but be swift and sincere in your efforts—everyone will be watching. In 2010, when Toyota’s stellar reputation took a big hit due to faulty accelerator pedals and brake issues, they did damage control and made efforts to fix their mistake (and reputation) by recalling more than 2.3 million cars.
Speak to Experts About Major Damage Control. Business reputation has become such a huge issue that several companies now provide damage control and reputation protection services to small business and large corporations, alike. If the damage created is far too great for you to clean up yourself, a company such as Reputation.com or Reputation Defender can make a huge difference in your recovery, according to Business Week.
Reach Out & Rebuild. Your customer base is an important part of rebuilding your reputation. Connect with loyal and new customers through email newsletters, your Facebook fan page or company blog. Highlight specials, customer appreciation promotions and anything positive going on within your business.
Emphasize Marketing & Public Relations. Marketing and public relations efforts are so important they’re worth mentioning twice. After responding to negative feedback and comments, it’s important to make regular efforts to counter the negativity with positivity. Add positive customer comments to your company website. Highlight community work your employees or business is involved in. If anything positive occurs within the company, include it in your marketing efforts.
Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Tylenol, took a huge hit to their reputation during the infamous Tylenol catastrophe of 1982, when seven people in the Chicagoland area died after taking Tylenol laced with cyanide. They quickly implemented several of the strategies above, particularly #2, to regain the trust of their customers and rebuild their reputation. It took years, but their efforts proved to be a success, according to the Washington Post.
Damage to your business reputation is not akin to a sleeping dog; rather it quickly becomes a lion that roars louder and louder until everyone notices. The chance to recover from a potentially-fatal situation is great, but only if you act quickly and responsibly. Incorporate the strategies above into your recovery and rebuilding plan to accomplish the two most important factors to your business success: regaining customer trust and the successful rebuilding of your business reputation.