Collaboration in Reputation Management: The Only Way to Achieve Success

User reviews, UX User Experience concept, selective focus on pastel green 5 stars with copy space, feedback from real customer giving for great score on product and services

In my last blog, I talked about the importance of collaboration during a crisis. But collaboration is an activity that goes well beyond a single discipline.

In today’s economy, collaboration is critical to the success of every organization in every discipline. It begins with culture and permeates into every task in the company. If your organization runs through a huge hierarchy of leaders and followers, you’re at a tremendous disadvantage because the system is designed for command and control.

But maintaining a collaborative culture is still possible if you hire the right people and supplier partners, create collaborative processes rather than linear ones and value collaboration more than simply being right. This effort pays dividends when activities draw public attention, because a company’s failure to collaborate is never more painfully obvious than in public relations activities.

You see it when an executive speaks to the media off the cuff without preparing written material first. You see it everyday on Twitter from CEOs, celebrities and even politicians, who say things they have to delete or that draw negative attention from followers. You see it when a generic response is posted to your review on Yelp.

Reputation management is a public activity and it requires the same attention that a media response would require. You are, after all, making a public statement and don’t want to harm your reputation while trying to manage it. To do that effectively, you need to collaborate with the experts in your organization for several reasons:

The Oracle doesn’t exist
Sure, you have smart people at your company with knowledge about a lot of things, but nobody on the team knows everything. You can’t expect an operator of an apartment community to have public relations expertise to deal with highly sensitive issues that could become media issues.

When a resident posts a negative review, they’re often trying to harm your reputation. Knowing how to mitigate that harm is a complex reputation management task that goes well beyond customer service skills. You need a public relations professional for that.

Stock, generic responses suck
Simply put, upset customers want to talk to real people not a customer service system’s stock response. They want to know that their concerns matter and a person is listening to them in the moment. And prospective renters need to see that your company cares enough to respond to them in a personal manner.

Some companies, however, choose to have their customer service team or a random supplier partner post a generic response that asks customers to stop by the community. It doesn’t work. It’s better if a supplier partner or the customer service team works in collaboration with the on-site team members to craft a custom response that shares what’s been done, what’s going to be done and that the company cares about their concerns.

Collaboration creates 360-degree accountability
The most common mistake, outside of failing to collaborate, when responding to reviews is to focus solely on how best to word the response and then forget about it. That’s not reputation management. That’s responding to reviews.

Reputation management requires you to take action and try to prevent the same review from returning a week later. In a non-collaborative process that leaves reputation management solely to the customer service representative or a supplier partner who never speaks with your on-site team, the problems are never fixed. In a collaborative environment, your operators are part of the response process and can offer insight into what they can do differently to prevent the same issues from recurring. They’re held accountable to the customer service standards of the organization.

The bottom line: Without collaboration, review responses are going to suck.

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