A man working from home has his laptop in his lap. On the screen is Nuvi Listen and Analyze's bubble chart. Popping out of the computer is two tweets, one overlaps the other so the bottom is unreadable. The top tweet says: Sunday: I reported @kroger doesn't provide sick leave to many workers and will only pay workers that test positive for COVID-19 or get a quarantine order Tuesday: Kroger gave workers a $25 gift card and attacked my reporting Today: Kroger changes its policy

4 Steps to Boosting Online Reputation During a Crisis

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:


A tweet by Judd Legum reads: Sunday: I reported @kroger doesn't provide sick leave to many workers and will only pay workers that test positive for COVID-19 or get a quarantine order Tuesday: Kroger gave workers a $25 gift card and attacked my reporting Today: Kroger changes its policy


Our monitors showed just how impactful this tweet became in a matter of hours:


Nuvi Listen and Analyze's bubble chart shows how many times Judd Legum's tweet was retweeted. The blue, neutral, bubble are stacked on top of each other and go off the viewing window on March 21st from midnight to about 7pm.


Nuvi analyze's reach and spread representation. Reach, a thin, horizontally rectangular blue box, has 412,410 mentions. Spread, a tall, thin green rectangle, has 16,392,656 mentions


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:


Sensia's tweet reads: My sister-n-law worked at Kroger for 10 years at their deli counter. Never missed a day of work, until she got cancer. They wouldn't let her take time off for chemo and threatened to fire her if she took more that 3 days off. Eventually she threatened to sue them



Hiatus Amber Neva Brown's tweet reads: My husband works at Harris Teeter, and pretty much every employee saw that gift card was sort of a slap in the face. They're risking their lives every day to be there. $25 isn't exactly hazard pay


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:


JetBlue's twitter profile bio reads: Hi, nice to tweet you! For concerns that require a response, visit [they put in their website]. Learn how we are responding to coronavirus: [a link to a blog]


A pinned JetBlue tweet: We know many of you have questions about your upcoming travel plans. Due to the high volume of requests, please reach out to use only if your flight is scheduled within the next 72 hours. As always, you can manage your trip at jetblue.com or on the JetBlue app
JetBlue retweeted Andrew Cuomo's tweet: New JetBlue is donating free flights for incoming medical volunteers heading to New York State. Thank you @jetblue for transporting the vital personnel we need. So grateful for the help. On top of the tweet, JetBlue says proud to help. Another tweet below this one reads: Travel restrictions are changing quickly and your trip may be impacted. Learn more> jetblue.com/travel-alerts


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. 

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