Keeping a close, constant eye on your online feedback is crucial.
On social media venues or business and product review websites, negative comments about your business are warning signals. Worst-case situations can become national news and end in disaster.
Such scenarios are rare, though, and they generally only become public information when the company involved is a household name. Still, you need to monitor your online reputation and know what to do if potential customers are finding negative feedback about your organization. It doesn’t take as much to topple a small business as it does a major corporation.
Start by assessing your current public image.
Many prospects and customers find your business online through a Google search, so that’s a good place to begin. Enter your company’s name, location, and the words “review” or “complaint” into Google’s search box. Visit the sites that appear on the first few pages of hits, and you’ll discover what’s being written about your company. Read recent comments and tally negative, neutral, and positive postings to get a sense of how you’re perceived.
Evaluate your reputation objectively before acting.
If yours is like most small to mid-sized businesses, you’ll find a few negative comments, but many more positive ones. You’ll never please everyone, and most people looking for companies like yours will probably pay more attention to the positive reviews. Still, take a close look at the complaints to see if they’re valid.
If you find enough negatives to make you uncomfortable, you can take steps on your own. Most consumer review sites offer ways to respond. Use these to politely counter negative statements. On social media, you can add your own calm, factual comments. If you encounter libelous statements or threatening rants, consult with your attorney. Monitor your own social media pages and actively moderate content.
Be proactive in improving your online reputation.
Start by encouraging happy customers and clients to post positive reviews, but do not offer anything of value in return. This may push the negative ones out of view sooner than you think. Use negative online complaints to stimulate better customer care efforts, and as educational tools for your staff. Avoid the temptation to post your own positive reviews. Such efforts are usually obvious and do more harm than good.
If all else fails, select a reputation management firm carefully.
A number of PR companies specialize in reputation management, but professional reputation management services don’t come cheap. Bargain-priced reputation management outfits often use questionable practices like fake positive reviews. If you need help, be sure to check the reputations of firms you consider. Get recommendations from trusted peers or advisors.
A Great Online Reputation Starts with Proven Business Practices
Every business should expect occasional negative comments, but keeping those from dominating your online image isn’t difficult. Excellent customer service, products, and services are sure-fire ways to keep positive reviews and comments dominant online. Ideal reputation management strategies always depend on your efforts to keep your customers happy.