There are fewer detriments as severe as going through legal troubles when it comes to reputation. Lawsuits are traditionally levied against businesses when they have sufficiently wronged their customer base or violated specific commercial regulations.
When something like this happens, your company risks losing clout with your customers and potential associates. Given that a poor reputation can be all it takes to devastate a company utterly, a lawsuit’s ability to eviscerate yours is a terrifying prospect for businesses worldwide.
Knowing that lawsuits can damage your company should serve as sufficient motivation to find a way to safeguard your reputation against legal issues. Given that even companies that are not guilty of what they are being sued for still suffer, reputation safeguards can make all the difference in ensuring that a lawsuit does not destroy your business. With this article, we hope to provide some guidance on measures you can take to protect your company’s reputation against the ramifications of the legal proceedings.
One of the most significant aspects of maintaining a reputable company is having a paper trail that can reliably be reviewed for the details of your business efforts. This is especially important for contracts and business agreements for you, your employees, and your partners.
Formal contracts are essential to establishing clear-cut details about what was agreed upon for the services you offer and the expectations from your employees. This paperwork, while not generally meant for review by the public, can be an important and powerful tool in protecting your company’s reputation against accusations being levied against your company.
The contracts for your employees are especially important if the accusations come from your employees claiming you have violated a contract somehow. For example, say your employee has filed a claim against you stating that you expect them to perform duties not outlined in their contracts or force them to work unreasonable hours that exceed the agreed-upon work times.
If these claims are unfounded and the contracts state as much, presenting the contracts during the lawsuit can help prove the unfounded accusations and protect you from a poor reputation as an employer.
Additionally, keeping track of interoffice communication can be just as important if an employee or customer accuses you of improper conduct such as sexual harassment or threats. In this hypothetical, let us say that a female employee accuses a manager of sending inappropriate e-mails to her and files a lawsuit in response.
Keeping a backup of the e-mails sent by the accused and those received by the accuser can shed some light on the situation. For example, suppose the employee is found to be falsely accusing her supervisor. In that case, your reputation can be protected by simply revealing the e-mails to the court that prove no such misconduct existed. This is not to say that the accusation should not be taken seriously, but these records will help maintain the truth.
Finance a Legal Division
While not directly tied to the preservation of your company’s reputation, retaining the services of an attorney or even staffing a legal division can help as an indirect investment into your company’s reputation. A skilled legal team will help combat the accusations levied against you in a court of law. Fighting the lawsuit is one of the most important parts of preserving your reputation when one is filed against you.
There will always be demographics who take shots at your reputation before the lawsuit is resolved. So, your reputation will still take a hit regardless of the case’s outcome. However, if you successfully win the case, the damage will be far less than if you lose. Maintaining an effective legal team will bolster your odds of victory in court and increase your odds of keeping a good reputation.
That said, the specific arrangements you make for your legal defense are best left to you since only you will be able to gauge the resources. Additionally, there are other details to consider when looking to preserve the integrity of your company’s image in the face of legal troubles.
Insure Your Company
It might seem like taking out an insurance policy for your business has little to do with reputation; however, you might be surprised to learn it can have a significant impact. This is because business insurance policies are used for more than simply shielding your company financially against losses.
They can be used to actually put your level of liability down on paper and therefore keep a legal record of what your company can be held accountable for. Liability insurance focuses on using certain terminology and language to outline the level of accountability a company has concerning accusations.
It will not prevent lawsuits from occurring, mind you. If you face litigation by customers or employees, insurance cannot prevent that. However, it can help minimize the overall impact the lawsuit has on your ability to conduct that business. By carefully outlining the liability your company accepts, disputes can be resolved a little more tactfully without severely damaging your reputation.
Liability insurance is one of the most common resources purchased by companies for that very purpose. So, adding a policy for your company can help minimize some of the fallout of any lawsuits you face. However, this is a more indirect method, and the best ways to protect your reputation from the impact of a lawsuit are all preemptive rather than reactive.
The 21st century is a time of online communication, not just for everyday purposes but for companies to communicate with their customers. This level of communication has revolutionized the way business is conducted and allows for a previously impossible form of communication with customers and associates alike.
However, just as with any good thing, social media can be abused in a way that could complicate the image of a company if its social media presence is not adequately regulated.
While likely not a common occurrence, sometimes, the things we post on social media could cause legal trouble if certain comments result from illicit practices. When a company is accused of misconduct, they are subjected to scrutiny for any sign of guilt. This can be extended to the social media presence of the company.
If your employees or even the company’s official social media account is found to be posting information that might prove troublesome to your image, the lawsuit will bring focus to it.
Ensuring that your employees are trained not to post controversial or even possibly illegal content is an essential step to preserving your reputation. Additionally, having your company’s official profile maintained to keep it compliant with the bounds of society is an equally important part of making sure the lawsuit does not draw unwanted interpretations of what might have been an innocuous post. Social media is one of the most scrutinized and analyzed mediums in the world, with customers and casual observers often taking issue with posts they find to be distasteful.
If you are in the midst of a lawsuit for supposed misconduct and a post tied to one of your employees or even directly to your company is viewed this way, it can complicate your overall reputation. The lawsuit and the posts can amalgamate and cause existing and potential customers to turn away from your services as a result. Keeping your company’s social media to the point will help to shield your reputation from this form of damage.
Actively Combat Libel and Slander
As you might have gathered, word of mouth is a huge component of how your reputation is affected in the eyes of the public. Unfortunately, this can cause damage to your company’s reputation regardless of whether or not you are battling a lawsuit at the same time. Much as your corporate social media profile needs to be carefully monitored, the ability of others to post as they wish can lead to baseless accusations being hurled your way. Be it via social media platforms, protests, or any other medium involving the spoken or written word.
Even if these accusations are not based on fact or reality, letting them lie can supremely backfire. However, if, for whatever reason, your company finds itself amid a legal battle, these accusations gain a lot more traction. The general public often takes them into account before anything is even proven. This is because, as soon as your integrity is brought into question officially, the accusations become a little more feasible in the eyes of those on the sidelines.
Therefore, actively combatting these accusations is extremely important to ensure that they are quickly and decisively disarmed. Using facts that can be corroborated to counter the accusations is the best way to do so since it will remove the question of doubt about whether your company is truly innocent or simply covering up.
An excellent example of common forms of libel against a company is the review system most customers use. When a review is posted, it will be from a customer either satisfied with the service or disgruntled enough to leave a scathing review.
Let us say, for example, that a customer who was dissatisfied or is simply looking to try and extort the company for products or services leaves a review. The review is an entirely baseless tirade on how your company overcharged them for services that were not rendered correctly. It would be a simple matter to respond to the review defensively, but that would be a poor decision. The best way to counter libel of this nature is to disarm the review with facts.
If they claim they were overcharged, present the receipts alongside the pricing for the product or service. If they claim a faulty product or service, ask them to provide evidence of this via photographs. Disarming these reviews will make any potential legal accusations of similar malfeasance seem less likely overall. However, if you are sued for overcharging by a particularly persistent customer, and you have several unaddressed accusations of the same, your reputation will take a hit before a verdict is even presented.
Take Your Reputation Into Your Hands
Lawsuits are something everyone wants to avoid. Commercial lawsuits are among the most severe for those looking to maintain their business. Even the semblance of guilt for malpractice on a company’s part is enough to torpedo your reputation. People are more liable to believe their fellow consumers over the businesses in question.
Simply put, this is because the consumers are aware that the overarching goal of the business is to turn a profit. Unfortunately, businesses have a history of taking advantage of their customers. This distrust has led to consequences for those that do not believe in underhanded practices. Fortunately, the safeguards employed for your company’s reputation can help defend against even lawsuit allegations.
However, managing and implementing some of the latter protections like social media and libel protection can be challenging to accomplish with just your staff. But, once again, there is good news in that regard since you do not have to go it alone.
We at Reputation believe wholly in helping you to maintain the reputation of your business by managing the details that can be a pain to handle alone. We offer services ranging from social media management to libel services to review management to ensure that your reputation does not suffer from mistakes or angry customers.
We know that lawsuits are stressful, and while we cannot help with that, we can certainly help to manage these parts of your reputation so you can focus on the rest. So, contact us today and bring your reputation back up to par.
Do you or your company have any questions about protecting your reputation during a lawsuit? Is there anything you would like a little more clarification on? If so, please feel free to reach out and contact us at any time! We’d be more than happy to answer any of your potential questions and assist you in protecting your reputation to the best of our ability!