Maybe you’ll get a bad review on Google, there’s a tricky situation on social media or one of your suppliers lets you down.
Whatever the reasons, this type of crisis can have a huge impact on your business success. After all, reputation really is everything, especially in this era of social media and online reviews.
Here are seven ways you can set yourself up to not just survive but thrive in times of crisis like these.
1. Start with a great PR strategy
There’s no way you can survive a reputation crisis if you haven’t first developed a rock-solid PR strategy. This will help ensure that you’re always putting across the right message to your customers, building the right reputation and are better able to react to any crisis more effectively.
2. Know your deal breakers
With a solid foundation set, you can then work on analyzing the finer details of your business to understand what weak points you have that could potentially lead to a crisis.
Don’t fool yourself here - no matter how effective and efficient your business is, there will always be potential for your reputation to be affected.
What aspects of your business could cause you problems? What are your weakest links? Are you always able to deliver on your promises? Are there factors that could have an impact on your business?
Focus on these things and consider ways that you could overcome them or reduce their impact.
3. Develop a crisis plan
If the worst should happen, you’ll be better placed to deal with it if you have an emergency plan in place that has been created for that type of reputation crisis.
Naturally, you can’t predict every type of problem that might arise, but you can create a blueprint to help you get through the worst and move forward.
Base your crisis plan on the potential weaknesses you’ve been able to identify and previous experience while also bearing any worst-case scenarios in mind.
You should develop a detailed plan which clearly identifies a crisis leader who can take the reins if necessary and make decisions when it matters most. This role should fall to someone who is naturally skilled in this way and can help to put your business in the best light, regardless of the circumstances.
4. Be honest
Clients and customers value transparency and authenticity above all else, so aim to be honest in every aspect of your business. That includes your marketing materials, the promises you make and any negative feedback you might receive.
If you do receive a bad review (which is inevitable), make sure you deal with it immediately. Acknowledge the incident, admit to it, apologize and then try to put it right.
Although this can be challenging, avoiding this essential step will only look bad on your business and make it appear that you don’t care about your customers.
Don’t feel that this dooms your business to failure. In fact, negative feedback provides an excellent opportunity to improve and streamline operations so that the same doesn’t happen again.
5. Outline a comeback plan
Once the crisis is over, you should know exactly what steps to take to come back stronger than ever. Clever PR moves at this point can go a long way, as can changes to company policy and other internal improvements.
This might be as simple as asking your team to follow a different procedure when dealing with customers or something more substantial such as developing a customer rewards system or similar.
6. Hire a pro
Without a doubt, the best way to both protect yourself from and deal with a reputation crisis is to hire a professional.
They have the experience and expertise needed to better guide your business through challenges and come through intact, whether that’s directly developing your business PR strategy or helping support your team to develop one.
As modern communication trends and technology evolve at a rapid pace, this professional help can often make a huge difference.
7. Remember your why
To survive any potential crisis and help ensure your business longevity, it’s important to remember why your business exists in the first place? What do you stand for? What are you trying to achieve?
Considering these fundamental details can help your business stay on the right track, help you to get over the bumps, keep morale high and guide you forward to future success.
It’s often useful to reread your vision statement and mission statement, share it with your team and redevelop it when necessary.
When you suffer from a reputation crisis, don’t panic! There are numerous ways you can reduce the impact it has on your business and prevent the same from happening again. A little planning can go a long way.