Do you remember the KFC great chicken shortage of 2018?
What about the infamous Pepsi ad in 2017 that received backlash when they were accused of making light of the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality?
While both brands suffered complaints and public scrutiny, each had a different fate regarding their company reputation — KFC stayed as a top player in the F&B industry while Pepsi reached their lowest perception level in 10 years.
While unexpected events may occur for any company, how you manage crisis makes all the difference when it comes to preserving your brand’s positive reputation.
We'll share the key factors that impact your business reputation, explore management examples from top brands, and explain how to manage your reputation.
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Factors That Impact Your Company Reputation
In order to maintain a positive business reputation, it's important to focus on the key factors that can affect your reputation, one way or another. These include:
1. Customer Service
A recent study by Microsoft found that 90% of Americans use customer service as a parameter when deciding whether or not they’ll purchase from a brand.
When your brand has exceptional customer service, the public perceives that your brand cares for your consumers by providing them with help — whether it’s answering their questions or addressing product complaints.
2. Positive Customer Reviews
People trust the opinion of other customers, which makes positive customer reviews a powerful factor that can affect your business reputation.
When your brand acquires positive reviews that are consistent, your brand establishes trust which encourages other consumers to purchase your offerings.
3. Social Responsibility
Social responsibility has never been more important for brands, especially since brands can influence the public by making a stand on social issues.
When your brand is socially responsible and supports a social initiative that’s in line with your values, the public perceives that your brand understands the issues society faces today which increases customer loyalty.
Why Is Company Reputation Management Important?
Whether it's affecting your customer’s decision-making process or making an impact on your relationship with other businesses, managing your reputation can make or break your company.
Here are the key benefits of managing your company reputation.
Encourage Customers To Purchase From Your Brand
Your company’s reputation plays a vital role in your customers’ purchasing decisions. In fact, 89% of global consumers read customer reviews before purchasing a product in 2020.
While your customers might leave negative reviews on your social media accounts or review sites, managing negative reviews and addressing complaints promptly will protect your brand’s credibility and improve your company reputation.
Retain Business Relationships
In addition to building credibility among the public, your company reputation also matters to investors.
When you have a positive reputation, investors are more likely to enter into a strategic partnership with you.
How To Manage Your Company Reputation
Now that you’re aware of the key factors that form the public’s perception about your brand, here are tips you can follow to lead your reputation into a credible and positive direction.
1. Display Positive Social Proof
Establish trust, increase your brand credibility and inform potential clients about previous client experiences by showcasing your positive social proof front and center on your site’s homepage and on your social media accounts.
Social proof includes:
- Earned content or media: Did your brand get a mention from Forbes or Harvard Business Review? Earned content or media promotes your brand and builds awareness so consumers know that your business is worth paying attention to.
- Positive user reviews: While responding to negative reviews is key in building a positive company reputation, never display them on your website which can make prospects think twice about purchasing from your brand. Instead, choose authentic client testimonials that display how your past clients were happy with your offerings.
- Celebrity endorsements: Did your brand get a shoutout from a celebrity or influencer? If so, let the public know! Celebrity endorsements can influence your customer’s decision-making process.
2. Respond To Negative Reviews
Did a customer leave you with a negative review?
As tempting as it may be, brushing negative reviews under the rug (i.e. deleting negative reviews) isn’t the best way to deal with unhappy customers.
Answer negative reviews by thanking your customers for their review, apologizing and providing a solution to their complaint.
Ultimately, responding to negative reviews shows that you care as a brand and establishes trust.
3. Improve Your Customer Service
While customer service is not the only building block of your company reputation, it is a measurable indicator of it.
According to a recent survey, 60% of customers in the United States do more business with companies because of exceptional customer service.
To improve your customer service:
- Empathize with your customers
- Provide immediate answers when your customer asks questions about your offerings
- Integrate an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot into your website to provide 24/7 customer service
- Send out an email, survey or make phone calls and ask for customer feedback on how you can improve your customer service
4. Utilize Public Relations
Partner with experts, such as a public relations (PR) agency, to help you improve your company reputation.
A PR agency will manage how the public sees your brand and creative positive press, such as guest posts on reputable websites, PR campaigns, press releases and brand events.
How Top Brands Have Managed Their Company Reputation
From debunking the McRib pink slime myth to taking accountability over an exploding smart phone, here are five brands that managed their company reputation.
1. McDonald’s Canada Debunks Food Myths
In 2014, McDonald's Canada kicked off a marketing campaign called “Our food. Your questions.”
The campaign’s goal was to publicly answer questions about their offerings, which they posted on a separate website.
Questions included, “What’s in your burgers?” and “Is it true that your McRibs contain pink slime?”
After answering more than 42,000 questions and reaching 3.8 million users through the campaign’s FAQ page, McDonald’s Canada’s campaign allowed the company to diminish rumors and educate their customers on the real ingredients behind their products.
2. KFC UK Addresses Chicken Shortage
In 2018, nearly 450 KFC branches in the United Kingdom were forced to close due to a chicken supply shortage.
Due to shipping problems that stemmed from a new partnership, the fast-food chain experienced issues delivering their signature chicken to 900 restaurants across the country.
KFC’s reply to the public’s outcry was simple, honest and endearing. They started their response with “The chicken crossed the road, just not to our restaurants” and capped it with the promise of resuming their normal operations soon.
While it’s never easy owning up to your mistakes, KFC’s prompt transparency increased their brand credibility and retained customer loyalty.
3. Netflix Pulls House Of Cards
In 2017, Netflix pulled “House of Cards,” a political drama TV series featuring actor Kevin Spacey who was accused of harassment and sexual misconduct.
"Netflix will not be involved with any further production of House of Cards that includes Kevin Spacey," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.
"We will continue to work with Media Rights Capital during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show," the Netflix spokesperson added.
Netflix chose social responsibility over revenue, which allowed the global streaming giant to communicate to the public that they don’t tolerate any form of harassment.
4. Snowbird Flaunts One-Star Ratings
Snowbird, a ski resort located in Utah, launched a marketing campaign, “One-Star Campaign” as a creative approach to managing their negative, one-star ratings that were left by previous customers.
To make light of the dismaying one-star reviews, Snowbird partnered with an ad agency where the negative reviews served as a copy against picturesque vistas and majestic mountain slopes.
The ad showcased the ski resort’s transparency. In addition, it made its rounds on Reddit.
Snowbird understood that their target audience had a sense of humor, which added to the ad’s success.
Just like KFC, Snowbird utilized transparency and acknowledged their company’s shortcomings.
5. Samsung Takes Accountability Amidst Bursting Phones
In 2016, Samsung’s new line of smart phones — the Galaxy Note 7 — faced manufacturing issues that caused over two million phones to burst into flames.
If that wasn’t enough, multiple airlines prohibited the smart phone onboard and tagged it as a forbidden hazardous material, causing the company to pause further production of the Galaxy Note 7.
To address the situation, Samsung partnered with 700 engineers and researchers, tested 200,000 phones in every extreme condition possible to see the device’s areas for improvement.
Once Samsung figured out what exactly caused the smart phone to burst into flames, they rolled out a quality assurance program for their devices and took accountability for their shortcomings by communicating it to the public.
Thanks to Samsung’s transparency and accountability, consumers gave them another chance and continued supporting the tech giant amidst the unfortunate situation.
Wrapping Up On Company Reputation
Company reputation is the public’s opinion of your brand, which plays a crucial role in your brand’s consumer base and revenue.
To improve your company reputation:
- Display positive social proof
- Respond to negative reviews
- Improve your customer service
- Utilize public relations
By being transparent, responding to negative reviews and putting an extra effort into customer service, you can improve how the public, prospects and your existing customers see you as a brand.
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