There's no shortage of examples of online reputation management catastrophes, and all it takes is one messy situation to tarnish your brand for good. But while larger organizations can work with pricey PR firms to orchestrate a rebound, smaller businesses aren't usually so lucky. In fact, failing to properly manage your company's reputation online could be a kiss of death to your business.
The good news is there are best practices to follow to maintain a positive reputation and keep current and prospective customers loving your brand. Here are our top three tips:
1. Never Delete Bad Reviews
According to a report completed jointly between FindLaw and Super Lawyers, a whopping 87 percent of Americans trust online reviews when choosing a local business or service. This could provoke you to delete something that's unfavorable. But, much like swatting a hornet, this can be counterproductive. Not only will erasing a review anger the customer who posted it, this also eliminates an opportunity to turn things around.
The best solution is to respond professionally and respectfully. Tempting as it may be, avoid arguing with the customer or trivializing their experience. Instead, use your customer service expertise to solve the problem and attempt to earn back the customer's trust. In addition to potentially bringing back your unhappy patron, this shows potential customers browsing your business how much your customers mean to you.
2. Respond As Quickly As Possible
Not only is a fast response helpful in diffusing a customer's frustration, it's also the most important part of damage control. Unfortunately, a report from Zendesk noted that people are more likely to post a review after a negative experience than a positive one — and negativity can spread like wildfire.
The sooner you address the issue, the sooner you can nip the issue in the bud. It also proves to the reviewer — and anyone who may be watching — that you take their feedback seriously and are committed to making amends.
The best way to make sure you're responding quickly is to monitor accounts and review sites using a reputation management tool.
3. Ask for Reviews
How do some companies end up with thousands of reviews across social media and review sites while others can barely manage a few? More often than not, it's because they've asked for them. But, if you're going to ask for reviews, there are two things to keep in mind:
- Never ask for positive reviews; and
- Never pay customers to review your business.
These practices are unethical and can get you in trouble with Google, Yelp and other trusted consumer review sites. While tempting, you should never incentivize your requests for reviews. Instead, ask customers to share their experiences, good or bad.
Depending on how it's handled, your online reputation management can help your business grow your customer-base and transform customers into brand advocates — or, it can drive current and prospective customers into your competitor's door. By using the three tips above, you can enjoy a more positive outcome.