Managing Your Post-Coronavirus Brand
Author: Ted Dyste – President & CEO | Dyste Williams
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly disrupted businesses, both small and large, across the U.S. As you move forward with a phased-approach to reopening, it’s important to protect your reputation.
Why Is Your Reputation Important?
Most businesses focus on handling reputation threats that have already happened. That is not reputation management. That is crisis management, a reactive approach to limit the damage that’s already been done. It’s important to focus on a proactive approach to mitigate reputational risks before they become a problem.
Simply put, your reputation is how the general public—including patients and employees—sees you, thinks of you and talks about you. It’s word of mouth.
How your business has previously responded to the coronavirus and how you move forward can play a big role in public perception and future employee recruitment. As much as a good reputation is vital in driving business, it can also reinforce employees’ commitment to the organization. Employees are the face of the business and engaged employees can be your best promoters.
How Can Your Reputation Be Affected?
There’s no denying that this global pandemic is changing how people think, behave and consume information. Since we live in a digital age, patients and prospective employees have many channels available to them as they search for and discover information about businesses. Reputation is all about public perception—even if it’s not factual.
There’s a need to be proactive, as reputational risk often strikes without warning. Here are some common online channels to monitor:
- Your website: consider adding a testimonial from a client or patient who you provided services to when your business was was closed.
- Social media
- News releases, articles and blog posts
Silence or poor communication can cost you more than just a customer; it can cost you your reputation and image.
People will talk about your business regardless of whether you have an online presence. But, if you’re not online or monitoring channels, there’s no way for you to discover what’s being said, and you may risk even bigger reputation problems.
As everyone is coming out of lockdown and your business implements a new normal, consider the following best practices to keep team motivated and your reputation unharmed:
- Put your employees first—First and foremost, keep in mind the health, safety and well-being of your employees when making business decisions. The coronavirus pandemic has led to a collective loss of normalcy. Returning to work may be part of the normal that people are longing for, so continue supporting them and checking in to see how things are going. As you protect your reputation from COVID-19 implications, current employees can be the main drivers of your reputation.
- Follow government advice—review federal, state and industry websites for guidance on patient care and employment practices including the MN Department of Labor & Industry and the CDC COVID-19 Resources for Businesses and Employers.
- Keep communication open and honest—internal communications can help keep employees calm and reduce stress levels. Everyone’s been dealing with much uncertainty. There’s a need to communicate with employees openly, honestly and frequently. The same goes for external audiences like patients and vendors. Go with what’s authentic for your practice, whether that’s regular updates, or tips and tricks to stay safe. This is a good time to reinforce transparency. Keep communication accurate by leaning on credible sources like the MDA, ADA, MN and the Board of Dentistry.
- Ask for feedback and answer questions—create an open channel or a way for employees to submit questions. Answer them as soon as you can, and provide the responses to everyone. If one person asked it, there are probably more who are wondering the same thing. An open line of communication is key to establishing trust.
- Reach out to industry partners—your peers are in similar situation. Share information and work together with other dentists and dental practices to develop processes and share ideas. Consider partnerships that could help your patients or employees.
- Be a thought leader—while reputation may be defined by what others say about you, it is also defined by what a brand says. Offer to be interviewed by your local newspaper, post educational content on your website and on social media, and provide education to patients during their appointments.
- Give back—on a similar note, give back to your community if you’re able to. A little bit of kindness can go a long way during these times.
As everyone moves into the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important for dental practices to keep their positive reputation intact and be known for being caring. Practices seen responding positively to the pandemic are more likely to survive and thrive.