Companies of every size and across every industry can benefit from corporate reputation management, especially when customer reviews data shows only 48% of Americans place trust in businesses as an institution.
This reinforces the idea that today’s consumers make purchase decisions based on brand or corporate reputation, perhaps even more so than on advertising, direct sales messages, pricing, or promotional content.
By spending ample time on a corporate reputation management strategy, your team can craft a brand image that affects company revenue, market value, as well as improvements to attracting and retaining top talent.
Keys to Successful Corporate Reputation Management
Corporate reputation management typically involves a combination of strategies used to shape the consumer perception of your brand.
Apart from media relations, PR efforts, and press release distribution, managing corporate reputation can also involve local SEO (search engine optimization), powerful community management, reputation marketing, employer reputation management, and customer experience marketing as parts of a single holistic process.
If your team is at the early stages of managing brand reputation, it’s important to use the following methods as a solid foundation for a formidable strategy.
Corporate Reputation Management Step 1: Listen to Customer Feedback
Corporate reputation management requires companies to listen to the people who support their business: customers, employees, stakeholders, and local communities.
Your team’s ability to listen to customers, in particular, is critical. Online reviews contain data essential to understanding and improving the customer experience. By monitoring, collecting, and analyzing online reviews, you can understand not only what customers are talking about — but also how they really feel.
Taking advantage of new technologies, such as natural language processing, can take your feedback management to another level by showing your team insights that would otherwise be invisible to a human eye.
Corporation Reputation Management Step 2: Focus on the Customer Experience
Giving customers an experience worth talking about is one of the easiest ways to improve corporate reputation.
By delivering an experience that exceeds expectations, customers will be happy to spend more money with your brand and even recommend it to their friends. On the other hand, unhappy consumers are lost quickly and they might write a bad review and advise others to stay away from your business, which can have long-lasting effects on your brand. After all, customer reviews data shows that 46% of consumers’ purchase decisions are still impacted by bad experiences from two or more years ago.
It’s important to attempt to see through the customer’s eyes and link their experience to expected company outcomes and reputation. With proper experience analytics, your team can analyze and properly respond to customer feedback, which in turn can lead to better experiences and improved customer acquisition rates.
With the right attitude — and a serious commitment to putting customers first — you can inspire moments of customer delight and, at the same time, improve the company reputation.
Corporate Reputation Management Step 3: Build A Strong Employer Brand
The current state of your brand’s corporate reputation also determines the ability to hire and retain top talent. Today’s leaders understand that this recruiting advantage is one of the keys to company success and growth, which is why a strong employer brand is a key area of focus for organizations. Consider this:
- Customer reviews data shows 84% of employees and job seekers see the reputation of a company as an employer of choice is important when it comes to deciding where to apply for a job.
In other words, your company’s employer brand strategy takes more than posting job openings on LinkedIn or designing a fancy Careers page. Your team needs to fully understand your company’s value proposition, foster an organizational culture, and proactively start asking for reviews and listening to employee feedback. Taking the time to listen to what employees have to say can be great indicators for how people internally and externally perceive the company’s reputation.
Corporate Reputation Management Step 4: Engage in Community Outreach
While it may not seem immediately clear how disaster relief efforts, charity events, or plastic-free campaigns could translate to increased market value or improved consumer brand perception, community outreach — and just being good corporate citizens in general — is integral for effective corporate reputation management.
Specifically, your team has to conduct community management that not only shows the company’s “human side,” but the messages also need to connect to those who might not be aware of the brand’s online reputation in the first place. This starts by “reading the room,” and creating content to match the current mood. Some situation might require more thought and serious tones while other times allow for a more casual or fun message.
Companies that are able to visibly demonstrate their ethics and show a commitment to the community are more likely to have a stronger corporate reputation and attract customers who care deeply about what a business stands for.
Corporation Reputation Management Step 5: Plan for A Crisis
In 2008, singer-songwriter Dave Carroll arrived in Chicago’s O’Hare airport and discovered that his $3,500 Taylor guitar had been damaged by the baggage handlers of United Airlines.
He repeatedly tried to get a process claimed, but United refused and chose not to reimburse him. For nine months, Carroll sent emails, made phone calls, pleaded with the customer service, and suggested that $1,200 in flight vouchers would be enough to compensate for the damaged guitar.
United wouldn’t budge so Carroll wrote a song called “United Breaks Guitars” – and it went viral.
United Airlines’ stock price plunged by 10 percent within four days of the song going online, costing shareholders as much as $180 million. To make matters worse there was a tsunami of bad PR and negative online comments directed towards the airline. Simply put, the whole “United Breaks Guitars” crisis made a very real impact on the corporate reputation of United Airlines.
Your company’s next potential crisis may not necessarily be a viral hit. It could take on the form of a scathing online review, a disgruntled ex-employee airing it out on social media, or a fleeting, yet forceful Instagram story.
During these times of crisis, your team needs to create and execute a powerful plan of action. Actions include:
- Taking preventative instead of reactive measures
- Resolve critical customer issues
- Build relationships and foster goodwill with the media
- Learn how to respond to negative reviews
- Consult PR and legal teams when releasing important external communications
Implementing these actions can prevent a brand from succumbing to the same issues as United Airlines. Failure to plan for and act in times of crisis can be costly, and it can lead to long-term damage to the corporate reputation on top of reduced stakeholder value.
Elevate Your Team’s Corporate Reputation Management Strategy
With these steps as the foundation for a corporate reputation management plan, your team can create numerous initiatives and campaigns that elevate the company’s reputation both from a customer and employee perspective. Taking advantage of today’s technology as well as carefully listening to consumer feedback are integral to this plan, and with enough time and investment, the strategy in place will yield an impressive online reputation, more loyal customers, and higher revenue.