What Is Reputation Management? (Plus Why It's Important)

Updated January 19, 2023

A positive business reputation can significantly influence whether customers buy a company's products or use its services. It's critical to monitor a business's reputation continuously because the brand's image can make a great impression on potential customers. Learning how to manage a business' reputation can help you strengthen a company's brand, prioritize improvements, and enhance customer experiences. In this article, we answer the question, “What is reputation management?”, discuss why it's important, explore the different types of reputation management, and provide you with the steps to help you create a reputation management plan.

What is reputation management?

Learning the answer to “What is reputation management?” can help you understand how to implement the techniques to manage a company's reputation among customers. Reputation management is the process of monitoring and addressing what people are saying about a business. The origins of reputation management began in public relations (PR), where customers learn more about a brand through strategies such as media coverage, advertising, and word-of-mouth. Through the growth of online communication and media, reputation management is now an essential component of digital marketing campaigns.

Now more than ever, businesses compete on building loyalty and trust rather than just relying on sales, making how people perceive a company all the more important. Customers can now share their opinions about an organization without contacting any media publication thanks to the popularity of social media. Even if an organization provides excellent products and services to customers, reputation management can be the deciding factor in whether they're going to continue experiencing success.

Related: What Does a Risk Manager Do? (And How to Become One)

Why is reputation management important?

Maintaining an exceptional business reputation is critical when operating in a sector with much competition. Reputation can be fragile, as there are many ways customers can leave feedback. When a customer is happy with a product or service, they're less likely to leave a review. When they have a negative experience, a significant number of customers share it with the company's target audience. This feedback can adversely affect the business because many potential customers do research before purchasing from a company. Finding a negative review might stop them from becoming new customers.

Related: What Is Reputation Risk? Causes and Steps to Minimize It

Types of reputation management

The following are the main types of reputation management:

Brand reputation management

Many customers find a review site to be a trustworthy source of information about a brand. A customer may change their mind about a company after reading a negative review. These situations can have a significant impact on a brand's revenue. Having more positive reviews or content about your brand can encourage customers to do business with you rather than your competition.

Related: Branding Development: Marketing Tips for Growth and Profit

Online reputation management

Various content sources, such as social networks, review sites, articles, videos, images, and comments, become a component of a brand's online reputation. When a potential customer performs an online search and sees positive links and comments about your business, it increases the chance they're going to trust you. A customer can also become a brand ambassador when leaving positive comments about a business.

Related: Reputation Manager Job Description (Including Salary)

Online privacy management

Online privacy management means removing harmful content about an organization. This process can include removing blogs, links, and images from a business's search results. This form of reputation management keeps this information off search engines and the rest of the internet.

How to create a reputation management plan

Organizations operating in various industries can use the following details to create a reputation management plan:

1. Monitor your reputation

Where an organization's brand is present determines what they monitor. If customers are talking about a brand on online forums, social media, or various review sites, it's essential to monitor those platforms. For example, if a company has a physical location where customers visit to buy its products, it's common for customers to leave comments on review websites. If a business is selling products online, it can monitor various online retail sites to see if customers are talking about the brand.

If you're responsible for monitoring a company's reputation, there are tools that can help you. If your primary concern is what customers say on review sites, look for tools that focus on these reviews to better assess and manage them. These types of programs can help you save time from looking for these reviews yourself. If your concern is other sites such as blogs, forums, social media, and news sites, you can use a media monitoring tool which tracks these sites for you. They also alert you when people mention the business.

2. Develop a response plan

Taking action is crucial to help an organization improve its reputation. The first step to this is deciding how to do so. Consider the following details to help develop a response plan:

  • Monitoring: This is likely to be whoever oversees the company's customer service or marketing departments. These teams are typically already watching various social media platforms, so it makes sense to have them work on managing the company's reputation.

  • Deciding when to respond: It's important to set the expectations for the types of comments your team is free to respond to and those that may require management's advice. This is often a case of proper common sense, but it's beneficial to identify these comments from the start.

  • Knowing the company's position: It's essential to have someone in charge who's free to speak on the company's behalf. When responding to harsh criticism, it's important to know that the person responding understands the brand's voice and vision.

  • Delivering the response: This person can be the same one who's monitoring the company's reputation, or it can be an official company spokesperson. The scope of the issue can determine who responds, but it's important to devise a response plan to deal with each situation.

3. Respond to negative comments

It can be tempting to ignore a one-star review and hope the rest of your positive reviews can hide it, but it's critical to an organization's reputation to respond to bad comments. Responding gives the company a chance to acknowledge the issue and win the customer back with the proper response. The best type of response is professional, polite, and friendly. Make it clear that the company is listening to the customer. One way to accomplish this is by using the customer's name in the response.

A customer is likely to feel the company is taking them seriously when they get a response from a real person. When a company is patient and trying to help, these responses can help build rapport with customers. You can use these tactics to help deal with negative comments:

  • Respond quickly: If you can quickly respond to help customers who are having a bad experience, they're more likely to change their minds about the brand. The quicker you can show that the company is listening, the more significant the effect can be on its reputation.

  • Take advantage of complaints: A brand can use a complaint as a lesson about their products and services. There's a chance that there are other customers who feel the same so the company can work to resolve the issue.

  • Continue the conversation privately: If the company receives a severe complaint or there's no opportunity to win the customer back, ask for their contact information to discuss the situation privately. With the right approach, the company can have an opportunity to build rapport on a one-on-one basis.

Related: The 14 Best Social Media Management Tools for Businesses

4. Build on your positives

It's beneficial to respond to any positive comments. These are the responses that can enhance a brand's reputation. A good strategy is to reward customers for leaving positive comments and encourage other customers to do the same. An organization can use various tactics to generate more positive comments, including:

  • Manage online profiles: Take action to control the content that's on review pages and social profiles to manage what customers see about the brand. Add pictures, share content, and encourage customers to do the same.

  • Ask for feedback: By asking customers to leave a review when you're confident you delivered a good product or service, the review is likely going to be positive. A brand builds its reputation on positive reviews, so encouraging them from customers is crucial.

Related: How to Get Customer Feedback to Improve Your Business

5. Measure your results and follow through

In this step, it's up to the company to commit to the changes they promise. If you offer a customer a discount to apologize for a bad experience or promise to speak to an employee about a specific issue, be sure to follow through. This is especially true when making these offers in public or online. The situation can become more severe if the customer follows up their negative review with another bad comment.

It's essential to monitor your results so you understand what's working and improve what isn't. If you use a monitoring tool, measuring your success can be easy. Most review sites come with a score, and you can watch these scores grow while providing value to your target audience. As these scores rise, you can rest assured that what you're doing to protect your reputation is working.


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