Proactive Online Reputation Management
Customers today are twelve times more likely to listen to other customer reviews than to your company’s messaging. So it’s no surprise that your reputation is being increasingly shaped by customer perceptions, especially online and in social media.
As a result, it’s becoming more important for companies and organizations to take a proactive role in managing their online reputation—or risk seeing their overall brand threatened and the potential loss of sales. It’s all about positioning yourself the way you want to be perceived.
Here are five ways to be proactive about your online and social media reputation and appropriately reactive when dealing with negative customer comments.
1) Write original content.
Blogging for your company with meaningful, compelling content will not only optimize your search engine results (SEO) but also help position your company as a leader in its field. Don’t forget to include a call to action and cite your sources if any are used.
2) Google yourself.
Do this regularly. Google your business name, company URL, the name of your best-selling product or service, your closest competitors, your senior employees, and even your company address. Then do the same with Bing and Yahoo. This will help keep you informed of reviews of your products or services and what customers are saying about your business, employees, etc. It will help you formulate a plan of action when you spot a trend and develop a better understanding of what factors are contributing to positive or negative situations.
3) Keep your strategy up-to-date.
Your plan of action should continually be adjusted to follow the latest trends and communication tools in the social media world. Technology is always changing and new social sites and apps are popping up left and right. How your customer base views you and talks about you will be constantly changing and evolving. Depending on your business, you may even find at one point that you need to engage a new generation within your audience. You will need to be knowledgeable about the communication tools that this new customer segment uses to talk about you, and be able to apply these tools and tailor your responses accordingly.
4) Accept negative comments.
No one is perfect. Acknowledge negative or unkind comments as quickly as possible. Responding to these can make a world of difference—other customers will see that you are earnest in trying to fix a problem for an unhappy customer and gain confidence in knowing that they will receive the same assistance if something goes awry with their situation. It would be almost unbelievable to anyone if there were only outstanding reviews on your Facebook page, so don’t worry about addressing every single negative comment. In fact, deleting negative comments could get angry customers more even more fired up and motivate them to re-post to other sites. Unless a comment is obviously fake (and make sure that it is), do not delete it.
5) Investigate issues.
When should you delete a comment, handle it publicly, or addess it privately?
If a customer is doing nothing other than unfairly criticizing your company online without any basis, then you should probably delete his or her comments.
Knowing when to respond publicly to negative comments is specific to every company. If you feel that the customer is open to reasonable options for resolving his or her situation, you can probably proceed with a public dialogue.
Generally, contacting a customer directly is the best course of action. But first respond publicly to a bad review by letting the unhappy customer know that he or she will be contacted by your company to help resolve the problem. Then contact the customer privately or provide a way for him or her to contact you, and have a plan or solution in place to address the situation.
A bad review is not the end of the world for a business. People will be more interested in how you respond to a situation than in the actual problem. Keep “the customer is always right” mentality when responding to comments online. Remember: be fair, be brief, and be pleasant.