Your online reputation is more important now than ever before. We live in a world where Amazon has trained us to seek ratings and reviews before making a purchase, and to leave them on the things we do purchase. The democratization of information introduced to the world through the advent of the internet and high speed access has changed the way the most businesses engage their customers, employees, and others. It's only natural that businesses thoughtfully consider how those same people engage back, and how that can impact their future.
Integrity and Honesty are Not Enough
Although your company might be the best in the business, and act with integrity at all times, you’re still going to have dissatisfied customers occasionally as well as disgruntled employees that would love to get revenge online.
So, what can be done when you have negative reviews and malicious content that slams your company, and urges people to stay away from you? Feel free to contact us to get more information, to discuss your online reputation, or find out more about available options concerning your online reputation.
How We Help You Counter Negativity:
Best Practices You Can Apply Today
When developing your reputation management strategy there are several things you should consider. As a general rule, there are two paradigms to a reputation management strategy: 1. Proactive (thinking ahead and preparing--knowing one day you may receive negative feedback online) 2. Reactive (responding when negative feedback shows up attempting damage control). In this section we will briefly touch on best practices in both of these paradigms. Although businesses interact with many different types of individuals, in this section we will focus on customers only.
Communicate Clearly and Set Correct Expectations
When interacting with customers, it's import that you communicate clearly and set correct expectations from the very beginning of your relationship. This might seem obvious to most, and even something you might think you already do very well. But often this is not really how things are, which can be a source of confusion and even frustration for your customers. Consider the following questions when assessing your company's communication skills:
- When setting the expectations of customers, do you include the "how" elements or just the "who," "what," "why," and "when?"
- Do you set the expectations of your customers and keep your expectations intentionally vague, or do you also give your customers expectations they can hold you to?
- Do you successfully meet your customers' expectations or do you frequently over commit yourself upfront? How often are you able to meet the expectations you set of yourself?
- Are you able to track and monitor the expectations you set for customers and for yourself?
- Do you respond quickly and directly when a customer is not meeting your expectations?
- Do you respond quickly and appropriately if you discover you are not meeting the expectations of others?
- Do you followup regularly and report on the progress of the expectations you've set for yourself or do you leave sometimes leave your customers feeling blind?
Encourage Reviews and Control Feedback Channels
If you've become masterful at communication and feel like you're ready to move on, the next step is to encourage reviews from your customers. If the vast majority of your customers have a positive experience with your company, it follows that the vast majority of your reviews will be positive reviews. Positive reviews are an asset to your business and something a company can build their future on. Many businesses build their whole business based on this premise, only in this context, it's typically referred to as "word of mouth advertising." If you encourage feedback from your customers and you're worried about a few negative reviews, don't be. It's only natural that you occasionally find someone that was less than thrilled with their experience with you. You are after all human, right?
If you are concerned about negative reviews, there are several things you can do to minimize their impact. First, encourage customers to offer negative reviews through private channels that allow you the opportunity to fix any problems they have with you before they become known to the general public. Second, when someone gives you negative feedback, respond quickly and kindly. Be empathetic to their thoughts and opinions. Third, be honest if you messed up or did something wrong, and offer solutions where you are able to fix things. Fourth, permanently fix the source of the customer's complaint so that it does not become a problem again. Altogether, this approach can reduce the number of negative reviews your company receives in public forums and can sometimes even eliminate them.
Publish and Promote Positive Content
Why don't you control the vast majority of content published on your company? We realize that the bigger you get, the harder this becomes to do this. But the good news is that most companies are still small enough they can adequately do this. So how do you control your published content? Here's a few tips to help you accomplish this:
- Create positive content about your company on a consistent basis.
- Make sure your content is useful and relevant to your business where possible.
- Offer your content through a variety of modes: articles, posts, graphics/infographics, videos, podcasts, etc.
- SEO optimize your content as best you can.
- Publish your content through a variety of different channels: blog, social profiles, etc.
- Interact back with those that engage with your content.
Setup Reactive Measures and Use Them.
The first thing you can do is setup reputation monitoring. There are several companies that offer this service. Semrush and Mention are two popular ones. Google Alerts is a service that is offered for free. Whichever service you choose, make sure to setup alerts on your company, but you may also want to include any branded products or services you offer, as well as any prominent people that are employed within your organization. Next, make sure that you carefully monitor the alerts you receive. If you receive updates daily, it's probably worth your time to spend a few minutes reviewing what alerts come in. If you find the alerts are too general, and often times not related to what you are attempting to monitor, try to get more specific with your alerts as best you can. And last, make sure you respond appropriately to any negative feedback (refer to the strategy outlined in "Encourage Reviews and Control Feedback Channels" up above.
When negative feedback is falsified, exposes personal information, or is in violation of a platform's terms and conditions, it's possible to have this review removed. If you feel like this is the case, carefully read the terms and conditions outlined by the website it is published on, and contact the correct department or person in order to request the negative review be reassessed and considered for removal. Because reviewers rarely read the terms and conditions of the websites they post to, they sometimes unintentionally break a term, giving you the opportunity to take that negative feedback down.
Conclusion - Reputation Management in a Nutshell.
Don't let others decide what your online reputation becomes. Take charge. Implement measure that will help you to gain back control. Although the concepts discussed above are not difficult, we realize that it can sometimes be hard to get good reputation management started and that it can also be difficult to manage. Please contact us if this is something you would like to receive more information on.
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