According to the article “9 Tips to Protect Your Brand Reputation” by contributor Dave Sutton on www.business2community.com, it can be hard for a business to recover from a damaged reputation. However, what you do at the onset of the crisis can make the difference between retaining and losing customers along the way. If you try to bury or ignore a problem or scandal, you’ll most likely lose a significant amount of customers. On the other hand, even offering an upfront apology may cause you to struggle with earning back your customers’ trust. While you never want to find your business in a crisis situation, there are some tactics you can use now to be prepared:

  • Apologize. Mistakes can happen to anyone, but when they do, don’t allow them to hurt your reputation or customer experience. When a mistake happens, own up to it, apologize immediately and commit to fixing the problem as soon as you can. Also, make sure your apologies are sincere. Your customers might be more understanding than you’d think, so do everything you can to please them and earn their loyalty.
  • Run your business on a platform of ethics. Uphold a standard of ethics at your company that will not only play a role in your sales and marketing strategies but will also provide employees with a guide to which to always adhere.
  • Observe your moral and legal obligations. You have a duty to protect your employees, customers and trade partners. As such, be sure to fulfill your moral and legal obligations, such as adhering to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards as well as doubling down on cybersecurity to protect your and your customers’ information.
  • Keep your brand promises. Create trust by always keeping your brand promises. If you promise a free air freshener with every carwash, deliver on it. If you promise that unsatisfied customers get a free rewash, make sure it happens or risk losing your customers’ trust.
  • Give back to the community. Supporting your community can enhance your reputation, as customers like to see businesses giving to charitable causes. Give back on the local level, and don’t forget to promote the charity drive in the local media, on social channels and on your website. The relationship is reciprocal: If you invest in the community, the community will invest in you.
  • Hire the best. Word of exceptional service and customer experiences spreads fast. In order to be the sort of company people gush about, you need to hire the best employees who will assist your customers quickly, efficiently and professionally.
  • Stay professional in the face of anger. All businesses suffer from loud, irate customers. What’s important for your brand reputation is how you respond to these customers, whether they are within earshot of others or not. Employees must always remain polite, calm and professional in the face of angry patrons. Not only will doing so hopefully help to maintain the upset customer’s loyalty, but it will also prove to other customers within hearing distance that you are helpful, rational and caring.
  • Defend yourself. Sometimes, you may be forced to defend your company’s reputation in the face of defamatory or slanderous comments, and you have every right to do so. If, for instance, an unhappy customer turns to social media or the press to complain about your business, be prepared to refute any false claims with fervor and professionalism.
  • Know how to accept a negative review. It’s impossible to please everyone, and you may get a negative review from time to time. In these cases, don’t take the comments personally — simply reply in a polite, respectful and fair manner.

Read the full article here.