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Your Reputation and Social Media Risk Management

ANDREA TARRELL
HNI Marketing Director

When companies consider the concept of reputational risk management, they usually think about what would happen to their standing following a high profile negative incident.  An accident or some kind of scandal (Penn State comes to mind) could have major negative consequences and leave your brand damaged, hindering future opportunities to compete.

Another more gradual threat to your reputation is risk posed by unhappy customers with unmet expectations. With the explosion of social media, the frustrations of any unsatisfied clients or disgruntled employees can be greatly amplified.   The person who walks away from your company feeling they have been “jilted” can present a significant and immediate risk to your business.

Let’s face it: you cannot guarantee a perfect experience with every client or employee 100% of the time.  You can, however, take steps to manage expectations and provide outlets for customers to turn to for resolution other than cyberspace.  Proactive "social media risk management" can help preserve your reputation and improve client satisfaction in the long run.

Be proactive in talking to your customers

Let your customers know that you want to hear about their experiences – good and bad.  For many people, social media can serve as a place to vent.  If they have a more appropriate outlet (one where their needs can be more effectively addressed) you can mitigate some of the risk of someone spouting off.

Customer surveys can be valuable in gauging overall perspectives on your company, as can face-to-face interviews with current and former customers. 

Monitor the web for mentions of your company

Google Alerts and other services allow you to monitor when your company’s name is mentioned on the web.  Set up email alerts to notify you immediately when your company’s name, members of your leadership team, or even your competitors are discussed online. [Want to learn how?  Visit this blog for step-by-step instructions.]

Keeping tabs on where your company is being discussed allows you to address any service issues or negative commentary head on.  On the positive side, it may also clue you in to some success stories or admirers!

Social media risk management starts with sales and service alignment 

Keeping your customers happy, of course, is a much bigger issue than social media. Strong communication between the sales team and customer service team in any organization is essential to achieving this. When these groups collaborate, you minimize the risk of making promises that you can’t keep.  

Effective two-way communication must be transparent and honest. Both teams must put their egos aside and be engaged in the process with the goal of meeting or exceeding the expectations created in the sales process.

Commit to the ongoing battle of building your brand

There may be areas of your business that you can finish and put away, but your reputation is not one of them. Your reputation is constantly in motion.

Social media platforms may change, but it’s vital to realize that managing your reputation has to become a consistent process within your business plan. This has to become engrained as a vital part of your company culture.

Turning Risk into Reward

Wherever there’s risk, there’s opportunity.  Investing the time to proactively protect your reputation on social media will pay dividends by increasing customer satisfaction and improving your ability to attract new business.

Remember – it takes years to build a reputation, but minutes to severely damage it, especially in our 24/7 media culture.   Leave a comment below and let us know how you plan to take action to improve your social media risk management.