It can happen in a flash; an angry customer responds to a well-intended post on social media. They quickly share an awful story that happened to them and everything spirals rapidly downhill. This is one of many moments where companies need to be prepared to prevent, respond, and fix issues online.
In a world that is full of online consumers, digital reputation management of a brand is so important. Online reputation management is not just about what people think of the brand. It's about what the brand is doing, how it interacts with people, it’s voice, values, and how it responds to challenges. With a well thought out, pre-planned digital strategy it becomes easier to manage your online reputation. A strategy that can turn a potential reputational crisis into a success story. It can prevent your company from being talked about for all the wrong reasons.
Social media is a powerful tool for your brand. This is where our customers can publicly interact and be heard. Your company should have a social media strategy in place that includes how to respond and interact with both positive and negative feedback. The first step is maintaining your pages. This means keeping them updated with relevant content, responding quickly to questions and comments, and ensuring you are presenting your brand with the tone, voice, and image you want.
Should you receive a negative comment from an angry customer, the rule of thumb is never to delete the comment. If you delete your customers' comments, it could make them more upset, and they will post again and find another way to attack. You have to respond kindly, calmly and professionally to their comment and address the situation. Sometimes there is not much you can do. According to Forbes, there will always be trolls, and they are not going ever to listen to your replies, so sometimes you will need walk away from the situation after you have attempted to resolve the issue. If you offer a sensible and reasonable response, even if you can’t tame the trolls, you will have provided an example of your excellent service to anyone else that may be watching.
For more information on how to respond to negativity check out our blog on customer complaints.
One way that brands try to gain a positive reputation online is by asking customers to write reviews. It wouldn't be ethical to offer rewards for positive reviews, but you might be surprised how often people follow through on a simple request. But timing is everything. Ask your customers right after they purchase the product, not a few months down the road. Guests may be less apt to participate during a busy holiday season, but asking never hurts.
Make it easy for your customers by signing up for an online service that will email your customer to write a review after they purchase the product. Or simply let your customers know you are on Yelp or social media so they can leave a review there. Remember to thank them publicly after they leave a review showing them appreciation.
Most brand reputation strategies of the past looked at outranking negative reviews with positive SEO and rankings. They would try to bury the negativity with positivity in the search results. This doesn’t work so much anymore. If you overheard a customer complaining to a friend on the street, out-shouting them is not the solution (and will probably get you labeled a little nutty.) Online, as in real life; if there is negative information your customers will still find it whether it's on blogs, review sites, or social media. If you want to understand your brand reputation, you’ll need to look beyond what comes up in search results and search everywhere your customers may be. Use this as an opportunity to learn about your reputation and then fix it!
Proper brand management can help you grow your sales and establish your success in the long term. No matter how big or small, businesses need to manage their online reputation. If you are facing an issue online or would like to discuss managing your reputation, contact us today.