Keeping a positive online reputation for any organization is a feat all on its own. Add a crisis to the mix and it becomes even harder to do. But ignoring your online reputation during a crisis can lead to devastating consequences that affect customer loyalty, brand perception, and revenue.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. When companies find themselves in the midst of a crisis, the following 4 steps are key to making sure they make it through and keep a positive online reputation.
Step 1: Prepare With A Crisis Management Plan And Crisis Management Team
You’ve heard the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This phrase applies to every company. Although you may not be facing a crisis at this very moment, the fact is, at some point you will. Being prepared will give you an advantage and help you make better decisions.
Create A Crisis Management Plan
A crisis management plan will establish procedures for employees and important personnel when dealing with an unexpected emergency situation. Having procedures in place helps employees understand their responsibilities and can increase productivity during the crisis. If your internal teams are well versed with their part in the plan, they’ll be ready to deal with customers the right way to maintain a great customer experience. As social media is where people primarily communicate today, a great social customer experience will enable your organization to adapt to customer needs which will foster a positive reputation.
Consider A Crisis Management Team
You can’t always see a crisis coming, but part of being prepared is having designated people in your organization that are keeping their eyes open for warning signs. A crisis management team is on the lookout for any uprising crises through social listening, creates and implements the crisis management plan, and works with employees to make sure everyone is prepared and following procedures. These teams often handle internal and external communication during the crisis. Having tools such as Nuvi Plan and Nuvi Engage to communicate and collaborate internally and externally are incredibly important during a crisis.
Our crisis management team here at Nuvi quickly noticed that there was a real possibility that we would need to work from home for a few weeks due to the Coronavirus. Before that became a reality, Nuvi ran a test where all employees worked from home for the day. During that day, members of the crisis management team communicated with employees to smooth out any kinks in workflow and evaluate how prepared we were. Sure enough, within a week all employees were asked to work from home. However, because of the due diligence of our crisis management team and our collaboration software, work went on without missing a beat.
Step 2: Utilize Social Listening to Analyze and Respond Online
During a crisis it’s important to know what people are saying about you online. You can use social listening tools such as Nuvi’s Listen to monitor what is being said and Nuvi’s Analyze to dive into the data to see its impact. By measuring the impact, you’ll get the whole story about your customers' perception of you during a crisis. Crisis management becomes easier when you are able to adjust your strategy using the right data.
The Coronavirus has certainly left companies in need of protecting their online reputation. Take the following tweet about Kroger through this crisis as an example:
Our monitors showed just how impactful this tweet became in a matter of hours:
With one tweet, millions of people became aware of how Kroger handled the Coronavirus crisis and how negatively they responded to this influencer’s initial report. People were quick to jump on board and tell their negative experiences with Kroger:
Had Kroger taken a moment to analyze not only Judd’s tweets, but their customer’s feelings on the situation, they would’ve been able to respond in a way that fostered positive online reputation and the situation would’ve gone in a different direction. Instead, not only did they fail to respond quickly, but attacked Judd’s initial report.
When a crisis happens, it’s inevitable that some people may have negative reactions and share them online. It’s important to be able to identify these negative reactions and respond to them as quickly as possible. Having customers at the forefront during a crisis and making an effort to connect with them positively will help boost your online reputation during a time when things can more easily take a turn for the worse.
Step 3: Actively Communicate with Customers
In the middle of a crisis, how and if you communicate with your customers will further solidify your reputation. It’s important to use an email as a way of communication, but don’t forget how incredibly powerful online channels, such as social media, can be.
Let’s take a page out of the airline JetBlue’s book:
They are consistently communicating online with their customers and social followers throughout the Coronavirus crisis. Have customers asked? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless, they’ve taken responsibility to communicate with them often. Even though they have their share of angry customers (think canceled flights, refunds, the works), JetBlue is doing their best to make sure there’s a line of communication open online between them and their customers.
Step 4: Act Without Delay
Having a plan, listening to and analyzing what your customers are saying online, and communicating with them are the foundation blocks to boosting your online reputation during a crisis. Once these are established, it’s time to go to work. Sometimes a crisis happens as a consequence of company actions and other times it’s due to things out of your control (like the Coronavirus.) No matter how you find yourself in the middle of a crisis, acting without delay is the best way to continue to positively impact your company reputation.
Remember Kroger? They failed to respond quickly to influencer Judd Legum and to the hundreds of negative tweets that followed. Their failure to act quickly led to a negative perception of them to millions of people, impacting their online reputation.
Customers don’t expect organizations to be perfect, but they do expect them to have a plan of action, with them as a focus. During a crisis you can continue to boost your online reputation as you put the customer experience at the center of everything you do. When you're not in the midst of a crisis, continuing to focus on customer experience can make future crises manageable because you’ve established trust with your customers. They want to know you care. Don’t let them think otherwise.