When you become a business owner, there are mounds of risks that can negatively impact your business but reputational damage is a risk that’s pretty high up on that list. There are incidents that happen which can do significant damage to your business, and oftentimes, it can cost you a great deal financially.
As a business owner, it must pose questions if reputational damage is something that’s too often ignored by businesses and is financial gain the overall goal of customers when businesses fail to acknowledge their mistakes?
Reputational damage can be caused by a number of different things but according to thebci.org, the key driver of success in a business surviving reputational damage is how that business responds to the situation. How a business responds determines how the public will be willing to forgive that brand for their wrong-doing.
How does Reputational Damage harm your brand?
When customers feel that they’ve been lied to by a company or feel that a company didn’t handle a situation appropriately, they will more than likely take their business to competitors. Even worse, those customers will take to social media and let the world know about that business’ shortcomings.
When customers suffer injury or loss due to your products or services, they will indeed want to take legal action against your business. That reason alone is why it so important for businesses to have business insurance. The type of business you have will determine the type of custom policy you need to cover the type of threats your business will face.
Common Causes of Reputational Damage
Social media is a great marketing tool for your business but it can also pose a significant amount of harm if an unsatisfied company or customer drags your name through the mud. This in turn will cause that negative feedback to reach global proportions.
Data loss is one of the quickest ways for your customers to lose trust in your brand and severely damage your reputation. When customers shop with your brand, they’re giving you their sensitive information and they’re trusting that you will do everything in your power to keep that information safe.
Compromising that information will indeed lose their trust in your brand, and it’s actually one of the hardest areas to gain the trust back of your customers.
Employees are “employees” at work who have their own social and personal life and activities, nonetheless, your employees are still a huge representation of your brand, even outside of work.
If an employee were to hop on social media and make an offensive slur towards a specific demographic of people, it would be your brand having to respond to it, as though the brand made the offensive slur.
Upon hiring employees, it’s very important to ensure they embody the brand’s mission and values. You want to have a thorough interview process to ensure this.
Customer demands are constantly changing and they are getting more aware about the industries, products and services- thanks to an easy and widespread accessibility of data. Ultimately, customers want what they pay for, and regardless of the cost, they want top-notch service. Anything less than that and they will do everything in their power to destroy a business’ reputation because of it, especially if the business doesn’t accommodate them
Customers may also tarnish your name if they feel your products are too overpriced. You want to always utilize fair sales techniques because once your customers get the wind of any shady business, their perception can turn against you.
How to Protect Your Brand From Reputational Damage?
Protecting your brand from reputational damage can be done in several different ways. You can always boost your engagement on social media and address the issue. But ideally, preventing reputation damage from happening in the first place is ideal.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to please every customer but taking the necessary steps to ensure they’re satisfied is the goal. Everything from delivering on the promises you make to responding quickly to complaints will take your business a very long way in building a strong reputation.
When the damage has already been done and your business has to face the public, this is your moment to be completely honest and transparent. Being completely honest to the public and your customers is the first step in rebuilding their trust in your brand back up. This is going to also build their respect and confidence in your brand. There’s nothing more worthy of forgiveness when a business is willing to admit when they were wrong, and can apologize for it.
Your business will also need to have plans in place moving forward from the reputational damage. All staff will need to be trained on how to appropriately handle the negative attention from the media. And the company may need to re-evaluate the company’s best practices or do a complete overhaul on it and replace it with something new.
The bottom line is that reputational damage can come from anywhere. The way you respond to it and how you move forward in running your business will determine how your business will recover from it all.