The importance of online reputation management cannot be understated. Thanks to a growing number of online review sites and social media platforms, it’s easier than ever for customers and clients to post their comments and criticism online. And, as many businesses have discovered, negative reviews can have a disastrous effect on revenue.
All too often, companies don’t realize their online reputation has been damaged until they’ve suffered a drop in revenue. Negative reviews won’t just drop into your inbox—monitoring your own online brand mentions is absolutely essential.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to help you keep track. Google Alerts is perhaps the most popular, although Social Mention, Topsy, and Tweet Alert are also useful. Each service will scan the Internet for your chosen keywords, highlighting any new comments or reviews of your business.
It’s natural for any business or organization to have a love/hate relationship with the Internet. It’s a great place to gain visibility, traction, and sales for your company. On the other hand, it is fraught with risk. Reputations – and businesses – have been ruined overnight by missteps and mistakes that are amplified online.
Monitor your social media
Someone in your company adept at handling your online presence should be regularly monitoring all of your social media accounts to find and address any negative comments or feedback as soon as possible. The sooner you’re aware of negative input, the quicker you can move to contain and neutralize it.
Respond carefully and positively
If someone posts a scathing review of your business, your natural instinct might be to immediately go on the defensive, or worse, lash back. Don’t. Take a deep breath, even walk away, before responding.
A good response should be both brief and polite, and contain the following:
- A “thank you” for patronizing your business, and a sincere apology for their disappointing experience.
- A direct response to each of their complaints. These should be polite and honest – if you feel as though the criticisms are unfounded, diplomatically say so.
- An explanation for poor service, once you’ve determined the cause. Don’t use this as an opportunity to make excuses.
- An invitation to return, with your compliments.
Develop a response protocol before you need it
Because at some point you will need it. 100 percent of customers are not happy 100 percent of the time. That’s just the nature of business. If you have an employee or virtual assistant managing your social media, you need protocols in place so they know how to recognize a bad situation and when and how to involve you, as an owner or manager. It’s important to have a standard response in place and ready to use, as well as the means to reach you or a designated secondary contact, so the matter can be handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Managing your online reputation is a proactive affair. Even the best businesses can attract negative comments. However, by responding in a fair, polite, and accommodating manner, you can have a positive effect on your online reputation.