A brand crisis can happen to any organization at any time, so it is best to be proactive in preventing them or at least have a plan in place to handle them effectively.
Crises can be triggered by internal decisions or employees, as well as marketing partners, customers or events completely outside of your control.
Sometimes these mishaps can fly under the radar, allowing your team to pick up the pieces and move forward without your audience even batting an eye.
However, crisis situations don’t always go over so smoothly. In fact, they can severely affect your customers, causing complaints to flair up on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. If the situation gets really bad, the mainstream media could take notice, filling your company’s search results with negative content that’s nearly impossible to remove.
A crisis that generates this kind of negative activity online can really impact your overall brand reputation for years to come if not handled properly.
The following information is important for all organizations, even if you’re not currently experiencing a crisis.
The strategies listed below are not only effective ways to prevent a crisis from occurring, but can also aid in developing a timely action plan for recovery if you ever find yourself in a potentially brand-damaging situation.
Respond swiftly and effectively
Gone are the days of traditional marketing where you pay the TV or radio station to deliver a specific message to your audience through a pre-recorded commercial and left it at that. In today’s hyperconnected world, marketing has very much become a form of two-way communication.
Your brand conveys your hand-crafted message and your audience can interact accordingly through different digital platforms, whether they are satisfied customers or not.
One bad customer experience could lead to an unfavorable review on Yelp– affecting your bottom line and potentially damaging your reputation if not handled properly.
The first firewall your organization will want to put into place is prompt and strategic communication– not just in response to negative feedback, but you should also respond to questions and positive feedback too.
Getting in the habit of doing so helps build a positive online reputation, aids in the prevention of future crises, and shows that you genuinely care about putting your customers first.
At least one to two people in your organization should bear the responsibility of regularly monitoring your social media and review platforms, namely Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yelp, and Google Reviews.
Ensure that your team has agreed upon the specific tone and verbiage you would like to use so that messages across the board are consistent with your brand voice and strategy.
However, be sure to avoid “copy and paste” responses– they may come off as ingenuine.
Enhance your customer experience
Customer experience can be defined as the feeling or impression a customer is left with after interacting with your brand– whether that be scrolling through your social media, browsing your site, visiting a brick and mortar location, or making a purchase.
Customers will base their experience on a number of aspects including customer service, ease of use and transactions, response rates, and whether or not their needs have been met.
Positive customer experiences make lasting impressions and encourage customers to come back for future purchases.
Does your current set up effectively solve your customer’s challenges? Are your purchase and communication processes streamlined and easy to navigate?
If it has been a while since your online customer experience has been evaluated, now is the time to work with your team to upgrade and personalize your customer service processes.
For organizations that are largely registration or event-based, consider enhancing your customer experience by utilizing a platform like Regpack to streamline registration efforts, simplify operations, and ultimately improve your customer’s experience with your brand.
Invest in content
If you aren’t already, start investing the time and manpower into creating online content for your organization.
The possibilities are endless! Ideas can range from writing blog posts, creating videos, infographics, interactive social posts, contesting, and even going live on Facebook or Instagram.
Digital content and marketing trends change frequently, so make sure your team stays up to date with what’s current.
Creating and sharing content regularly is crucially important when it comes to handling or preventing a crisis because it allows for transparency within your organization and provides an opportunity for you to show your audience that your brand can rise above the current situation.
High quality and informative content can build trust with your audience.
Plus, if you have acquired some unfavorable press during this time, publishing your own content can potentially help negate that content and push it down on your organization’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
Giving back is something your organization should do regardless of whether or not you are in a crisis as it shows integrity and selflessness.
Not to mention, it boosts morale within the company internally and can help paint your brand in a positive light.
When experiencing a brand crisis, participating in corporate social responsibility (CSR) shows that you care.
Your team’s efforts in giving back and doing good can rebuild trust with your audience.
It is important to highlight your humanitarian work and achievements in your online content, especially if you are a non-profit or if your organization is already based around these principles.
However, be careful to not over-emphasize or brag about CSR when your organization is experiencing a crisis.
Your audience will be able to read right through your attempts and may view it as insincere.
Experiencing a brand crisis can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
Hard times within your organization are opportunities for growth and development.
Use what you’ve learned from these situations to prevent future crises and build a better brand.
Look at it this way, facing a crisis will teach you lessons you would have never been able to understand without being challenged!