7 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation
You would be very hard pressed to find a company who has not had an issue arise with a customer because of bad service or a misunderstanding. The internet and online reviews have reduced the barriers for customers to complain and increased the speed at which bad reviews spread. Being prepared to handle online customer complaints can reduce their impact and the effect on your business.
Here are seven ideas to get you started on developing your company’s online presence and managing your reputation proactively.
1. Control your web presence: You should have accounts on all relevant social media sites. If you are B2C, this means Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ at a minimum. For B2B, you should also include LinkedIn, and if you are in a creative industry, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, and YouTube are appropriate places for you to have a presence.
2. Manage your company accounts: Simply having the social media accounts is not enough – you must also actively manage them and develop your audience. You need to invest the time interacting with customers to increase your influence and engagement scores. You want to construct a strong presence so that your accounts can counter any negative customer reviews.
3. Manage your individual accounts: If your company’s identity is strongly associated with your founders, owners, or key executives, the company should create and manage online accounts in their names as well.
4. Have a blog: A blog is excellent for SEO and helping you in your search rankings and it provides content to help populate your social media accounts. Your blog can also provide you with a forum to directly respond to any major public statements made about your company if necessary.
5. Listen: Before getting defensive about a bad online review, take the time to seriously consider the complaint. Are there weaknesses in your service or processes that need to be addressed? Think of customer complaints as an opportunity to improve your business moving forward.
6. Apologize: If you or someone at your company has made a mistake, own up to it and make a genuine apology. An authentic apology will help diffuse the situation and may earn you a loyal customer.
7. Do not argue: Even if you are right, arguing with a customer is likely going to come across as defensive, petty, or unprofessional. If the situation is volatile, take the communication with the customer offline rather than having a public argument.
To effectively manage your online reputation requires a major investment of time and money. For most businesses, social media and proactive reputation management should be considered essential functions - not a side of desk activity. If you do not have the time or expertise to manage it yourself, hiring someone to handle it for you is a good investment. Actively managing your online reputation will put your business in a stronger position if or when an unhappy customer tries to sully your good name. Think of it as insurance – a good online presence will not keep your reputation from being damaged, but it will help you control the conversation and mitigate the damage.