The day you open your business you become vulnerable to the good and bad publicity you can get from either satisfied or dissatisfied customers. That is the price you pay to run a business. It happens to everyone regardless of what you do. Hopefully you are doing your best to please your customers and following through with the expectations you have given them. But when the unthinkable happens and you find a negative remark, blog post or complaint online there are steps you want to take.
Here are some of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of Managing Your Business’ Reputation Online.
Lets start with the Don’ts:
- Don’t Panic. I know that is easier said that done but the last thing you want to do is lose your cool and try to retaliate. There is no reason for that. It often causes more damage than good.
- Don’t immediately focus all your attention to the negative information you have found. It is important for you to have a plan or strategy. If you focus all of your time, money and effort on clearing your name then the rest of your business will go down the tube.
- Don’t admit anywhere that you are wrong. Admitting any wrongdoing is not going to get your complaint removed from search results, blogs or forums. It can also cause further trust issues with existing or potential customers.
- Don’t take your first negative publicity as a sign that your business is a failure. People that feel that have been wronged in any way are more likely to post the negative information about your company but chances are you have got 100 happy and satisfied customers for every one unhappy customer. Remember, you can’t always please everyone.
Now the Do’s:
- Create a plan of action. If you notice a couple of negative reports or complaints listed on the first page of search results you have got to find a way to push them off the first page and get them as far down the results as you can. A few really great ways you can do this are by submitting a Press Release to various PR distribution sites such as PRWeb.comm, PR.com and PRnewswir.com.. You can start a new blog that is about your company’s products or services. Make sure you share the good information about your business such as favorable stats or testimonials. Join forums related to your niche and contribute useful, relevant information.
- Use social networking as a way to build a bigger and better network. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, StumbleUpon and Digg are great because they such a deep user base. If you can get some buzz going about your business it will go a long way. People love to refer sites that are useful to them so make sure you have information that appeals to your target audience.
- Do your best to resolve the issue with the dissatisfied customer. Sometimes it can be tough if they make the comments anonymously but do your best to find out who they are so you can take care of their concerns. If you try to reach out to them and resolve the issue publicly it shows that you are persistent and take your customer’s satisfaction seriously.
- If your business is in the position to get certified through agencies like the BBB it can be beneficial to your credibility to potential customers.
Those are a few ways that have proven to be effective for me.
Just remember that in order to get those negative search results out of the spotlight it will take some time. It will not happen over night and as with everything it will take some consistent effort.
I realize that some cases may be so severe that it may be in your business’ best interest to work with a company that specializes in reputation management so you can continue to run your business and do what you do best.
Jeremy Martin is an Internet Marketing Consultant based out of Utah. He currently runs a blog at SimpleFuzz.com where he talks about his two passions: SEO and Social Media.