Your small business can’t opt out of reputation management
If you don’t control the story, someone else will
A few years back, when I was white labeling for another company, one of their clients called me and was a bit upset. We had a working relationship so she would often call me directly instead of the company that was doing the billing.
She proceeded to tell me that somebody left a bad review on Facebook. I am mediately retorted with, “don’t delete it,” at the same second she said, “I deleted it.” After that, as I knew would happen, the unsatisfied customer put a negative review on Yelp, Google, and any other place she could.
After that, the conversation only got more painful to hear.
Apparently her boss, in a panic, then spent 10k at a “well-known” branding company to “scrub” the info from the internet.
The reason I put well known in quotes above is because they are not well known at all. They had a good schtick and moved around with big money, deceiving customers. Then closing shop and opening under another name. Five minutes of investigation on the owners part would have saved him a lot of money.
Better yet, understanding reputation management before you need it, would be the smarter way to go.
Do You Know Your Reputation?
This goes for your personal reputation as a business owner, as a person, and also your business as a brand. Whew! That’s a lot to keep up with, but you can do it.
Learn from the larger companies and begin changing one or two things to improve your reputation. Things continuously change and you need to know all you can to manage your reputation.
Additionally, solid management of your reputation can result in real business growth. Word of mouth, online and offline, means everything in the business world, and having a great reputation can really impact that word of mouth in a positive way.
What Action Can You Take Now to Have an UnF*cked Reputation?
There’s a few actions for reputation management that I can outline here, and then do follow-ups in future posts or videos.
1. Be positive and friendly over the Internet. Stay upbeat and post the fun stuff that happens in your business. You have to actively engage your followers in order to make tweets and updates work.
Answer any questions that are asked of you; do this as quickly as possible If you do not know the answer to a question, let them know that you’re in the process of getting an answer.
And remember there are citations and listings that happen whether you create it or not. Business listings are pulled from local registries and you can appear in Manta or Yellow Pages without setting up an account.
2. Watch your online presence. You never can tell when a company might get a negative result on search engines from a dissatisfied client or a person who simply doesn’t like you — or your company. Monitoring search results yourself will help keep you on top of the situation and thus able to put out little fires as they pop up. Try to do this a couple of times per month.
3. Don’t react to negativity. If you happen to see something online about your business that has a very negative slant, it’s all too easy to get upset about it, particularly if the information isn’t even true. Stay calm when responding and focus on facts.
Reviews or comments that are in your control, such as Facebook or Instagram should not be removed. It will only force the person leaving it to feel more frustrated and add more negative responses to your business.
Your negative comments and reviews must be addressed as fast as possible. Immediately empathize with the reviewer and let them know you’re sorry they had a bad experience. Ask them to contact you privately (via email, phone, or any social media messenger) to resolve the issue.
It’s extremely important for existing clients or potential clients to see that you are responsive to your customer base and are concerned with their satisfaction. If the reviewer is nasty or shows signs of flying off the handle, then react calmly at all times. Your goal is for others to see how you treat your customers / clients. The nasty reviewer will appear unreasonable or they will calm down.
4. A private promotion or deal should always be kept a private matter. This is very important, especially if you get a complaint and then offer a discount to help remedy the situation. One thing to avoid is posting the things you’re doing to remedy a customer complaint and then receive more complaints because other clients or customers will feel slighted.
Develop the right expectations for your business. This means being honest with your customers and handling any errors properly. Transparency is essential to maintaining a good reputation.
If your business made an error that negatively affects your customer base, don’t try covering it up. Your customers will not be fooled. Give into the fact that you made an error and offer a sincere apology. If you offer to make it right, most customers will forgive and respect you for it.
5. Never lash out at your clients or employees on the web. Don’t make negative posts, and don’t call out an anonymous reviewer even if you’re sure it’s an ex-employee. This can lead to people not wanting to do business with you.
Your reputation shouldn’t be ignored, but you don’t have to spend all day on it. You can slowly work up a schedule on managing your reputation.
BONUS TIP: Just as I was posting this, an article about Sephora manufacturing fake reviews came across my desk. Do not try to manufacture positive comments or reviews by getting your friends or employees to get involved. You can ask your satisfied customers to leave an honest review.
TL;DR: Your online reputation affects your business health. Start paying attention and be proactive in managing your business reputation.