How To Manage Your Online Business Reputation

The internet has changed the landscape when it comes to reputation management. We now have sites like TripAdvisor which makes it easier for consumers to post comments and criticism online.

Negative reviews can become a disaster for any business. The courts are starting to see the impact of online reputation management.

French blogger Caroline Doudet was demanded to pay $1,745 in damages after publishing a critical review on her blog.

We share with you good advice on how to manage your online business reputation so that you can avoid similar cases like the one mentioned above.

Build A Reputation

One of the ways to build a solid online reputation is to get a large number of positive reviews or perhaps find the best press release distribution service. Unfortunately,  there are no quick fixes to this process. Only satisfied consumers will post good reviews so you must strive for excellent service.

Some companies try to manipulate this by posting positive reviews made by their employees or pay people to write “made-up” positive reviews.

This ill-advised tactic can work at the start, but you will be discovered in the long run. This will do more damage to your credibility so you should not do this tactic.

Negative reviews are always unsolicited and are almost always written by customers who want to vent out their frustrations.

The opposite applies to people who write a positive review, they must be prompted to do so.

Business owners must develop a way to ask customers for their comments. Here are some strategies to do this the right way:

  • Set up a computer or tablet at your business for people to post their comments. The longer it has been since their last visit, the less likely they are to leave a review, having a tablet ready can cause them to comment.
  • Collecting customer emails can be used to your advantage. You can send an email and ask politely for a review.
  • You can ask customers for a review at the point of sale. You could print a feedback card and ask them to fill it up. Many businesses offer a small token in exchange for a review.
  • You can ask for reviews from your social media followers. You can come up with a social media contest and give away freebies for the best review that they can come up with

Responding To Criticism

Even the best businesses are not immune to negative comments. The key is to respond in a fair, polite and apologetic manner. Doing it this way can give a positive effect on your online reputation.

Responding harshly to negative comments may have a negative impact on your online reputation. We understand that a negative review can feel like a personal attack on your business which makes it challenging to respond objectively and calmly.

The technique is to never respond quickly to a bad review. Move away from the computer and let your emotions calm down. Sending a message in the heat of the moment will result in a harsh reply.   

A good response should be polite and concise and contain the following:

  • A “thank you” for trying out your business and a sincere apology for their unfortunate experience.
  • A direct response to each complaint. Be as polite and honest as possible, if you feel like the comments are unfounded, tactfully say so.
  • Give an explanation for the poor service but don’t make any excuses.
  • Give an invitation to return, with your compliments.

It is recommended to reply to every negative comment that you get. However, there are times when you may suspect that you are being trolled. Don’t reply in these situations, you can send a report to TripAdvisor for an unfair review.

Monitor Brand Mentions

It is common for companies to realize that their online reputation has been compromised until they have experienced losses in revenue.

Negative reviews can have a huge impact on sales which is why you need to track your online brand mentions regularly.

The good news is there are many tools that you can use to help you keep track. Google Alerts is one, Topsy, Social Mention, and Tweet Alarm are also useful tools.

These tools will scan the internet based on chosen keywords, highlighting new comments or reviews of your business.

In general, all complaints should be handled the same way whether online or offline. Keep being polite and courteous no matter the situation. If you get angry and feel like a confrontation is imminent, step back for a moment and gather yourself. A single outburst can ruin your image for a long time. We need to be wary that there are cameras on smartphones that can take pictures and videos anytime. Everyone has a smartphone nowadays so we need to be cautious and avoid that viral photo or video that can cause damage to our online and offline reputation.

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