Reputation Management: You Are What People Read – Part 2

Continued from Part 1

“I can’t believe how quickly the service technician came to my house.”

Would you hire that company for home repairs? I would.

Trolls, Haters and the Competition

Online, trolls post opinions on the op-ed page or write a negative review of your restaurant even though these trouble makers have never been near your bistro.

Often trolls are kids who hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Some are hackers, some are script-kiddies, and some just post negative reviews for “something to do.”

Haters are just that, and you can find them in chat rooms, or you can become friends on Facebook, only to discover that your new BFF is angry with the world, hates her job, hates last night’s TV special – these people are usually unhappy. Posting a rant about your restaurant because the breadsticks weren’t warmed is a hobby among these malcontents, but a rant like that from a hater still reads like a warning to stay clear of your eatery.

Then there’s the competition – other restaurants in your service area. What’s to prevent a competitor from posting a thumbs-down review of your restaurant to build up his clientele? It’s unethical, but almost always impossible to detect.

Then there are Real Customers

Aside from trolls, haters and unscrupulous competitors, you’ll also find reviews from your customers. Some good, some not so much.

These are people who ate at your place, had apps, a main course, dessert, and beverages. If they enjoyed their time as you guests you get a good review. If they were seated at the dark corner table – the table time forgot – and waited 20 minutes to even see a waitress, then expect that unhappy customer to slam your service in a post on a review website.

Sometimes it’s easy to tell which reviews are legit, and which were written by a competitor. You may know it, but consumers in search of a nice quiet dinner may go elsewhere after reading a few negative reviews about you.

So what can you do to prevent bad reviews, or repair the damage once a bad review has been posted? If you simply ignore bad reviews, your online reputation will suffer over time as more people read the negatives and tell their friends to steer clear of your restaurant “from something I read online somewhere.”

You Have to Work to Maintain Your Online Reputation

First, before a dissatisfied customer posts that slap down of your plumbing service, she’ll contact you to fix whatever is making her unhappy.

Fix it. Fast

Even if you experience a loss on this job, can you assign a dollar value to a solid, well-earned reputation? Priceless. So, before that unhappy customer even has the chance to post a negative review, get a service tech out there to FIX IT! As I said before, the best way to prevent negative posts is to provide a positive experience between your company and the demographic you serve. You may even get a nice review from a satisfied customers.

You’ve Already Been Slammed

Of course, not all unhappy customers will tell you. Instead, they write a raw review on a review site, and suddenly – in just days – you notice that the phone isn’t ringing as often.

Your search engine page rank is sinking like a stone, the crew is waiting to get to work, but those reviews are driving business elsewhere. You need to get out in front of a bad review ASAP – yesterday would be even better.

First, respond quickly. That negative review isn’t winning you any new fans so the faster you take action the faster you turn a negative into a positive.

Post a polite, cordial, helpful reply to the unsatisfied poster asking him to call your company and all will be made right. Your reply will be seen by the same people who read the negative review, and there’s your company ready to set things right.

You’ve already made progress in reclaiming your positive reputation. You’re a business that values the best in client care.

If the poster does contact you, fix whatever the problem is. Late delivery. Broken in transit. No satisfaction talking to client care reps. Talk to that person, understand the source of the dissatisfaction. Be empathetic. Put yourself in that customer’s shoes.

Deliver satisfaction to this unhappy customer and add another post explaining that the problem has been resolved, the customer is happy, you honour your terms.

Ask the original poster to update the review wall with a short explanation of just how you fixed the problem. A once dissatisfied customer now becomes a great salesperson. It’s hard to put a price on that.

So, How Do I Look For Negative Reviews?

There’s software you can install that sounds an alarm when a negative review shows up, but you don’t have to spend a bundle to maintain and even repair a business reputation.

Create alerts using Google. The name of your business, the industry, the geo-specific region you serve, product names, your name – all can be used to alert you to mentions online, good, bad, or informational. These alerts show up in your inbox, so even if you don’t use Google Chrome as your browser, create an account with Google, set up your alerts.

And check every day.

Check all local reviewing sites at least once a week. If you see a negative review, time to address it.

Create a Business Plan to Counter Negative Reviews

Your plans and systems for handling bad publicity should be in place long before you receive bad publicity.

The marketing department gets a reply posted to the review board. The head of customer relations contacts the customer to see how to fix the problem. Each person has a task to address a negative and turn it into a positive.

Who will do what when a major industry journal reports negative company news? Contact the editor of the journal and politely ask if you could submit an explanation or even a rebuttal. Not all editors will allow this, but some will. In fact, some will take your reply and run with it, making it a topic of discussion.

Assign one individual within your company to track online mentions of your company. Compile a list of all reviewing sites where your company might be reviewed by a dissatisfied customer. This will greatly simplify locating negative reviews.

The Wrap-Up

A single negative review can cost your business thousands of dollars unless you take quick action to (1) find the negative review, (2) reach out to the poster, and (3) turn that negative review into a positive experience by posting your fix in the same thread as the negative review.

You can automate much of the process, but assign a human to check reviewing sites regularly for anything negative, Create Google alerts to indicate when your company name appears online.

In the past, reputation management was fairly straightforward. Today, it’s an on-going process – a necessary process – to keep your company’s hard-earned reputation untarnished.

Take action before you take a big hit and fall in page rank and SERPs positioning, and do it now.

And remember that, at Insurance House we can advise on reputation management and other cyber insurance issues.

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