No matter how strong your marketing campaigns are, they will never be effective without a good reputation among consumers. A good reputation is also difficult to hold on to–particularly because consumers are more likely to tell their friends about a poor experience than a positive one. Combine that with nearly half of consumers refusing to engage with a business with a rating below 4 stars, and any brand has their work cut out for them.
So what do you do when your reputation takes a hit?
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- Take a Break
Continuing to market in the midst of a serious issue can come across as oblivious and callous. Instead, give yourself time to address the issues with all hands on deck. Pausing your marketing efforts full-stop may feel extreme, especially if you are in the middle of a peak busy season, but this sends a clear message to your current and future customers that you aren’t simply moving forward with ‘business as usual.’.
Taking a break also means you aren’t continuing to compound negative impressions while an issue is at the forefront of people’s minds. The news cycle runs incredibly fast. Even a single week’s break gives time for potential consumers to focus on other news stories.
- Respond to Criticism
Answering criticism with grace can be difficult. Consumers don’t hold back, and maintaining a positive attitude is no easy feat when you’re also putting out fires. Even so, it’s the best way for you to let people know that you’re listening and are appreciative that they are providing their thoughts. Keep in mind that your goal is to respond, not react. This means remaining kind, thoughtful, and respectful when responding to negative feedback. The reviewer may not be open to hearing what you have to say, but your poise will leave a lasting impression with those who read the reviews section later– that you are open to a two-way conversation and not quick to disregard negative feedback.
On the flip-side, don’t ignore the positive reviews! Engaging with them can boost their placement and give you a chance to highlight the ways you have exceeded customer expectations.
- Not Getting Reviews? Use Testimonials!
Reach out to current customers for their thoughts and really listen to what they have to say. You don’t want to limit yourself to people who have perfect experiences, either. Some of the most valuable reviews you will receive are from people who had a problem that you solved. This gives potential customers a sneak peek into what working with you is like, shows your commitment to righting your wrongs, and highlights the awesome, caring people you employ.
It can also add a few positive comments to your search results, offsetting the less recent criticisms.
- Be as Transparent as Possible; Vulnerability is Rewarded
Potential customers aren’t going to ignore issues, so you shouldn’t either. You know they’re going to ask, so make sure you have an up-to-date answer. Communicate next steps to your employees so they can answer appropriately if you aren’t available.
Not everything should be communicated with the public, especially when you’re still working through a problem. Even so, Gen Z values authentic and transparent relationships. They’ll appreciate the honesty. As long as it remains appropriate, your customers will love having genuine, transparent conversations with your employees!
If it was a mistake on your part that led to the criticism; own it! Do not blame your staff or things out of your control. Admit the issue, assume the responsibility, and share how you will work to resolve and not repeat.
- Set the Right Tone
Re-framing or re-focusing the conversation to what’s ahead can help keep your reputation on track. When you can, keep your tone positive and upbeat. Address the issue, then direct people to the better end result. Did your property have delays in construction? Encourage people to check out the fresh rooms with brand new everything!
However, remember that sometimes upbeat isn’t appropriate for the issue at hand and you have to be prepared to meet your audience where they are at. When dealing with reputation issues that concern violence or security, focus on the safety of your tenants, then address what you’re doing to protect them in the future.
Reputation recovery takes time, and it can be hard to keep it top priority when you’re also taking care of day-to-day operations and meeting your weekly and monthly goals. Commiting to authentic and transparent communication will help you and your team integrate these strategies into your business.
Overwhelmed with where to start?
The Black Sheep is happy to help! Reach out to learn about our team of Micro Influencers today! They will share their firsthand experiences with your new and improved brand in order to create native marketing that meets your customers where they live.