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How to Protect Your Business’s Online Reputation – 5 Tips


“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.


Online reputation management, ORM, is directly tied to the success or failure of businesses.

In the age of hyperconnectivity, with one customer review, opinions are formed and reputations are built or shattered.

Thus, knowing how to protect and manage your business’s online reputation is not just a skill—it’s a necessity.

In this article we discuss five tips to help manage your business’s online reputation so that it retains its credibility, integrity and a positive perceptions in the eyes of consumers, partners, suppliers and stakeholders. 

Online Reputation Management in A Nutshell

Online reputation management (ORM) refers to the process of proactively monitoring and managing a business’s online reputation

ORM encompasses all online information including, reviews, social media interactions, discussion forms, blogs and articles.

Note: Online reputation management is also known as digital reputation management or internet reputation management. 

What Is the Goal of Online Business Reputation Management?

The main objective of ORM is to protect and improve a brand or business’s image so that it is perceived as trustworthy by consumers, suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders. 


60% of U.S. consumers said they would avoid buying from a brand that comes across as untrustworthy.” – PricewaterhouseCoopers. 

Why is a Business’s Online Reputation Important?

The health of a business’s online reputation is critical as it directly impacts many key factors that contribute to its success. Consider the following examples:

Consumer Trust

Customer trust is the faith shoppers place in a company. A positive online reputation engenders consumer confidence in a business’s commitment to delivering on its promises and doing what’s right. 

Brand Credibility

Brand credibility is the trust consumers place in a product or business based on quality, reliability, and integrity.

“Marketing experts often point out brand credibility as one psychological factor that could trigger the buying impulse of consumers. In this case, it refers to your brand’s reputation and ability (or inability) to convert that into sales.” – Lynn Pechinski. 

Business Relationships

Business relations are the connections that exist between people and organizations that engage in commercial activity. 

Online relationship management plays a key role in maintaining a strong network of business relationships including, customers, partners, suppliers and other stakeholders.

Employee Recruitment

An excellent online reputation helps to attract talented employees who seek to work for reputable organizations.

What’s more, a positive company reputation improves employee morale, motivation, and satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates and increased productivity. 

Investor Confidence

Investors rely on a company’s online reputation to gauge its potential, future prospects and financial health.

A well-managed online reputation instills confidence in investors, leading to increased investment opportunities, and improved access to capital. 

Public Perception and Regulatory Environment

An organization’s online reputation can shape public opinion, social acceptance, and the regulatory environment in which it operates.

Companies with a negative online reputation may face scrutiny, legal challenges, or regulatory interventions 

Brand Credibility

Businesses That Have Experienced Online Reputation Damage

United Airlines

Online Reputation Damage: United Airlines faced significant damage to its online reputation after a viral video showed a passenger being forcibly removed from a flight. The incident sparked outrage and condemnation across social media platforms.

Details: The mishandling of a situation involving overbooking, led to the forced removal of a passenger. The event was captured on video and shared widely online.

Cost: The incident resulted in a substantial decline in United Airlines’ stock prices, with an estimated loss of $1.4 billion in market value. Additionally, the company faced legal challenges, operational disruptions, and reputational harm, which required significant resources to address. 

Wells Fargo

Online Reputation Damage: Wells Fargo suffered online reputation damage following revelations that it created fraudulent bank and credit card accounts without customers’ consent. The scandal tarnished the bank’s reputation for trustworthiness and integrity.

Details: The damage was the result of unethical practices within the bank, where employees opened millions of unauthorized accounts to meet aggressive sales targets.

Cost: The scandal led to CEO and executive resignations, regulatory investigations, legal penalties, and damage to customer trust. Wells Fargo incurred $185 million in fines and agreed to a $3 billion settlement with regulatory authorities. 


Online Reputation Damage: Volkswagen suffered significant damage to its online reputation due to the emissions scandal. The company was found to have installed software to cheat emissions tests, leading to excessive pollution levels.

Details: Volkswagen’s deliberate deception damaged the company’s reputation. The car manufacturer installed illegal software in diesel vehicles to manipulate emissions tests and mislead regulators and consumers.

Cost: The Volkswagen scandal resulted in massive financial losses, including fines, settlements, and legal expenses amounting to billions of dollars. The company also faced a decline in sales, and a loss in consumer confidence, requiring extensive rebuilding efforts. 

“Positive online reviews and a strong social media presence can significantly boost brand credibility and customer trust. On the other hand, negative feedback can deter potential customers and damage the brand’s image.” – Eric Sachs, Sachs Marketing Group.


Five Tips to Protect Your Business’s Online Reputation

Tip 1: Establish Clear Policies and Procedures

  • Enact policies and procedures to handle customer complaints, crises, and negative online reviews.
  • Train your employees on how to respond promptly and professionally to any customer issues that arise in person or online. 

Tip 2: Monitor Online “Chatter”

  • Regularly monitor online mentions of your business across relevant platforms, including social media, review sites, and discussion forums.
  • Use online monitoring tools to track conversations about your brand and promptly address any negative comments or reviews. 

Tip 3: Respond Promptly and Professionally

  • Respond promptly and professionally to any negative feedback or complaints online.
  • Acknowledge the issue, apologize if necessary, and offer solutions or resolutions publicly.
  • Practice responsiveness and accountability; these attributes help to mitigate the impact of negative publicity. 

Tip 4: Build Positive Relationships

  • Focus on building positive relationships with your customers, employees, and stakeholders.
  • Encourage happy customers to leave positive reviews and testimonials.
  • Actively communicate with your audience through social media, email newsletters, and other channels to reinforce positive image building efforts. 

Tip 5: Be Transparent and Authentic

  • Be transparent and authentic when communicating with your target audience.
  • Take ownership of mistakes, demonstrate accountability for shortcomings, and communicate publicly about efforts to redress any wrongdoing.


“When faced with a crisis or negative events, a company with a good reputation is more likely to weather the storm.” – Peter Roper, The Family Business Man.


Final Comments

Businesses must proactively manage their online reputations, and recognize that negative perceptions can have profound and lasting consequences.

The tips we discuss in this article will help you develop the processes, awareness, and business culture necessary to secure your business’s online reputation.

In sum, prioritizing ORM will safeguard your business’s reputation, help to maintain positive perceptions, brand authority, and credibility.  


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