Reputation Management 101: How to Make Sure Bad Online Reviews Don’t Hurt Your Business

by Eddie Reeves on

I probably don’t have to tell you that your corporate reputation, like your personal reputation, is your most important asset. A good reputation with your customers and prospects can mean the difference between a big bankroll and bankruptcy.

In a pre-internet world, a bad review or experience could take a long time before it had any real effect. Today, we are blessed (and sometimes cursed) with the ability to share our views and complaints instantly, with information going around the block and around the world.

That’s why you need to be ultra-mindful and proactive when it comes to managing your online reputation. One bad review mishandled will often have a magnified effect that can take a long time to reverse – if it can be fixed at all.

A look at the numbers

Don’t think it’s all that important? Let’s take a quick look at some sobering statistics:

72 percent of consumers report that they regularly investigate companies through social channels before making purchases (Cone Communications)

  • 59 percent will use social media sites to complain about customer service (Cone Communications)
  • 89 percent of consumers believe that these online channels are trustworthy sources (Society for Communications Research)
  • 80 percent changed their minds about purchasing after reading a negative comment or review (Society for Communications Research)

So how can you make sure bad reviews online don’t ruin your business? Here are three ways:

1. Make stellar customer service a priority

Without question, the single most important thing you can do to manage your online reputation is to take customer service very seriously. You may think you do that, but in a world where a negative review can be shared thousands of times in a few hours, taking a week or so to try and rectify the problem could be the death-knell you hear ringing. Contact the upset customer (privately if possible) and offer to make amends.  And please: check your ego! The customer may not always be right, but she or he is always potentially in a position to do great harm.

2. Encourage and reward positive reviews

The fact is that in business, sooner or later, you will get a bad review. One of the best ways to help negate the effect of the occasional poor review is by encouraging and rewarding good reviews from your happy customers. This has several benefits, among them creating a positive culture surrounding your online persona, as well as by pushing the negative reviews further down the search results.

3. Respond publicly

If you’ve done all you can and the customer still won’t change their review, you can make a public entry to state your side. Use this wisely, and only to present the facts. Don’t “flame” the customer, and don’t use this as a way to appear as anything but humble. Coming off defensive and unprofessional will make the situation far worse.

Make it your business to deal with your online reputation just as diligently as you would any other aspect of your business. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do it yourself, then hire a consultant or firm that you can trust to do it for you.

It’s that important.

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