Your brand is your most important asset. How your buyers perceive your company determines whether or not they’ll make a purchase, refer you to other customers, and—most importantly—come back for more. That relationship between you and your buyers is a lot more fragile than you might think. One PR disaster may be all that stands between you and a bad reputation.
If you don’t believe me, consider the mighty blunder of United Airlines. Wow, now there’s a bad reputation in the making. At the writing of this, their stock has dropped $1.4 billion, and is still plunging. Recovering from this could take a while.
Now, in most cases, the ding to a reputation isn’t nearly as devastating as this particular example. Before you despair, try these tips to fix a bad business reputation.
Acknowledge the Problem
Whether your problem is presented within your business reviews or all over the news, it’s important that you first acknowledge that there is an issue. Sticking your head in the sand and hoping it will all blow over will only anger your audience.
Learn from the Bad Press
There is a learning moment within even the harshest reviews. Deconstruct the complaints, categorize the statements within, and determine which should be addressed.
This is where’ll learn how your buyers feel about the quality of your products, the professionalism of your staff, and the helpfulness of your customer service. Without the bad reviews (or bad press), you may remain unaware of the ways in which you’re failing your customers.
Take the criticism to heart and pledge to be better.
Ignore the Irrelevant
You will receive feedback that has nothing to do with your products and services. Once you’ve become well known, it’s inevitable that someone somewhere will attempt to drag you down. Learn how to ignore the feedback that can’t help you. Otherwise, you’ll agonize about things you simply have no control over.
Consumers are savvy enough to spot a smear campaign from miles away. If you’re working hard to fix the actual problems, then you’re building even more trust with your buyers. Those irrelevant reviews will have no bearing on your brand.
Address Your Audience
A simple statement from the CEO or PR representative is all you need, but make sure you cover a lot of ground with your address. Name the problem, provide an explanation—not an excuse—and, if you have a solution, convey the steps you’ll take to fix the issue. If you don’t have a solution, at least let your buyers know you’re working on it.
Then, reach out to the buyers who made complaints. Thank them for their feedback. Invite them to try your services or products again so they can see how their opinions helped you improve. Even more importantly, they’ll see how you’re working hard to solve for their needs.
The Last Ditch Option
A brand refresh is always an option, even if you’re not dealing with negative publicity. However, a brand refresh should be handled with care, simply because you don’t want to alienate your brand advocates. When you make major changes to your image, you have a lot at stake.
Is it time for a refresh? In the case of United Airlines…well, it’s very likely. Digging out of the hole they’ve created will be difficult, but not impossible. If you’re facing total annihilation, then maybe you should consider this option, too.
At any rate, it’s never a bad idea to take a critical look at your company and business practices. Ask trusted friends to give honest feedback, and then expand your circle to include strangers and even detractors. The wider the array of people, the more truthful your feedback will be.
Remember that a brand refresh isn’t turning your back on your established brand. Instead, you want to maintain those aspects of your identity that your buyers still love while tweaking or updating your vision and mission.
These waters are dangerous, but you can navigate them. If you’d like help—whether to weather a PR storm, fix a bad business reputation, or just refresh your brand—give us a call.