With social media, it can seem like the Internet is a massive popularity race. Both companies and individuals take great strides to carefully build a brand and reputation that represents them well. Unfortunately, there comes a time for any business when they have to deal with a complaint. There are many warning stories of companies that have handled negative feedback and complaints poorly and seen their reputation tarnished. To avoid a dent in your online corporate reputation, we suggest the following practices.
1. Don’t remove negative content
When you find a negative comment or post online, your first impulse might be to delete it. This isn’t necessarily advisable, as the main rule about the Internet is that nothing ever really goes away. If you regularly delete negative comments, customers may notice and this can lead to them losing trust in your company.
Instead, you should reply and encourage the person posting the negative comment to contact you directly through a more private medium like email. That being said, if you see malicious posts or content that is posted just to incite a negative reaction (this action is sometimes called “trolling”), there is nothing wrong in hitting the delete key. Just make sure to acknowledge this by posting a warning that states something along the lines of: “Please note, malicious content will be deleted.”
2. Address complaints promptly
You should have someone monitoring your online platforms for complaints or negative feedback, so that you can respond promptly. This will also show customers that you actually use your platforms and are willing to engage. If you do not take steps to address negative material, you could be sending the message that you don’t care enough about customers, which could drive them away.
3. Provide people with a place to complain
Being proactive is important when it comes to reputation management. Instead of waiting for complaints to be posted on various review sites, blogs or even social media, which are all out of your control, why not provide a place that you can control, for all types of feedback?
Having an easy to see form, forum or other similar area on your website, where customers can interact with you, could go a long way in helping limit where complaints pop up. If you are in control, then you’re more likely to see complaints sooner and be better able to answer them quickly.
4. Ensure colleagues and staff are all on the same page
Two things that can turn customers cold on a brand are a company that isn’t organized, and being told different things by different people within the same company. If you have more than one staff member managing your online reputation you need to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding your response. If a client asks a question they should get one answer, and if there is a complaint there should be one response or one person handling it.
It is a good idea to establish policies on how to deal with complaints, decide who will deal with them and when they will be dealt with, and communicate this with all staff, not just those handling your online presence. A unified response goes a long way in minimizing the harm negative feedback can cause.
5. Monitor online activity
By this we don’t mean that you should monitor the activity of your employees. We mean that you should take a look at the different communication channels used by your customers, and the public at large. If your business relies on reviews, simply monitoring your own profiles and website isn’t enough. Many customers complain on review sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report, or their own blogs. Taking time to search for, and browse these sites could help you gauge the general perception of your company. For example, if you see an increasing number of negative reviews, you know it is time to look at what needs to be improved.
Having a well managed online reputation won’t guarantee new customers will come flooding in the door, but it can help decrease customers from going out the door and taking valuable sales with them. If you would like to learn more about reputation management please contact us today.