Fear and misinformation can spread like wildfire online, especially when it comes to COVID-19. However, there are steps that you can take to effectively manage your online reputation and defend your brand’s reputation.
As the coronavirus makes its way around the world, it is becoming increasingly more important than ever to be a source of truth for your nervous customers. The faster that you can respond to issues that you have control of, the better you will position your company to come out of this crisis unscathed.
Below, you will find several ways that you can manage your business’s online reputation during this health emergency by advising your customers and safeguarding your brand.
Update Your Hours
Without a doubt, your business has a high probability of not being included in the list of “essential services.” This means you are going to either have to minimize the number of hours you are open or close your doors temporarily. While it is a shame that we have to resort to these tactics, it is imperative to respect the law and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Take some time out of your day to check your business listings; anywhere that you have business hours listed need to be modified. Keep these listings up to date so that your customers know what to expect should they think of your business during these closures. Adjusting your hours will show up on Google’s Search and Map listings. Your customers will be able to see quickly if you are open or not.
While you are modifying your hours on Google, don’t forget to check your dashboard to make sure customers are clicking through to the correct landing page or website. Also, be on the lookout for imposters. If we have learned anything during this outbreak, it is that people are willing to do almost anything to get ahead. Check to see if there has been an alternate website that mimics your site. The owners of these sites can make any claims they desire. However, at the end of the day, you will be the one that has to answer for any incorrect information they attain from these sites. If you happen to discover a website that is not yours, make sure to report it right away.
Monitor Your Reviews
Even at this time of crisis, your customers are going to be willing to go online and talk about your business. While we all hope that this kind of pandemic will not happen again, it can give you valuable feedback on what you can do during should there be another one in the future.
It is especially vital for any business that can remain open to listen to what its customers want. Many companies have been doing just that. I read an article about one store having marks on the ground and plexiglass put up to protect their cashiers. Before long, many other businesses were doing the same thing. The reason it seemed to happen all at the same time is that companies like yours were listening to their customers and responding to their needs.
Another change that I have seen is that businesses are now offering contact-free interactions. This can be done in several ways. First, you can have a cashless payment system complete with tap to pay. Another way is having customers pay over the phone and have the delivery driver drop the food off outside their domicile.
During these crazy times, it is more important than ever to put your customers before profits. While you may take a small hit right now in the implementation of new rules and regulations, your customers will remember that you were worried for their safety. When everything is said and done, you will reap the benefits by having more customers than ever shopping at your store or utilizing your services.
Engage Your Customers
If you are one of the businesses that have had to close their doors temporarily, now is a great time to talk to your clients. I know it can be challenging to do this under regular business hours, but now you should have a load of free time.
Sign on to Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media platform you have. Engage with your customers. Let them know you are looking out for their well being and that you empathize with them. Collect some information from them while you are there. If you had some marketing ideas or new products planned before the shutdown, ask them how they feel about it. Trust me; they are just as bored sitting at home as you are. They will love to know that when the all-clear is given, they might have a new product to come back to. They will even feel as if they had a say in whether or not the product got released. Involving the customer in these kinds of decisions will get you brand loyalty that you can’t pay for.
Continue to Publish Content
You will want to continue to provide your customers with something to read. The difference is that you will likely have to modify the content. Customers on social media may be interested in helping you to decide on which products to release, but customers on your website want information.
Provide your customers with updated and relevant information about the coronavirus. There is a reason that anything with the coronavirus or COVID-19 is ranking very high right now. Be the information center they want and deserve.
During these trying times, it is more important than ever to keep your customers ahead of any profits you might lose. We are all in this together, and together we can overcome. Take time to beef up your online reputation by following one or all of the items on the above list. With that being said, make sure you stay home if you can and avoid contact with anyone you don’t have to be in contact with. I wish you all the best and hope you come out of this safely.