A Reputation That Took Decades to Build Can be Threatened by a Single Event
You may find yourself in the unfortunate position as the victim of a coordinated attack on your business using social media, which is a horrific situation for anyone who has lived through it.
Negative reviews are bad for business and no-one disputes this reality. However, when you understand how to leverage online reputation, and in particular, your online reviews, they can be very powerful and very profitable.
#1 Evaluate your brand promise versus reality. What are you saying in each and every marketing message? What do people expect when they shop with you? Is there a disconnect between the customer experience and your promise?
If yes either change your brand promise or fix the disconnect. This could mean training, replacing people, investing in upgraded equipment, renovating and so on.
Remember… each and every touch point someone has with your business is marketing. Be sure it is consistent with their experience otherwise your reputation — both online reputation and offline reputation — will suffer.
#2 Claim your accounts. If you have not claimed your Foursquare, Yelp, Urban Spoon, Google Places, Facebook, Trip Advisor and other accounts where people are reviewing you, do it immediately and start responding to the reviews.
When you read a great review, thank the person for taking the time to comment, be humble but reinforce your brand promise and ask them if they would like to call out any employees who made their experience so you can properly recognize them.
By doing this it shows you are listening, you care, you appreciate, you are dedicated to a positive experience and you are a good employer that values the great employees you have.
Also respond to negative reviews. If it is a legitimate complaint, recognize the person, thank them for giving you the opportunity to improve the experience your customers deserve and ask them to connect with you directly offline.
Note: Always remember that just because you are offline, your conversation or correspondence can end up back-online.
#3 Be relentless in your quest for testimonials and reviews. Remember, people look at reviews as social proof and many people will choose one business over another because of the reviews, so you want as many reviews as possible.
Many happy customers will say they will write but they don’t because they are busy or because it’s a pain to get an account so they can leave their review.
Tip: Knowing what is being said about you is the first line of defense and there are social media monitoring services, such as Trackur, Social Mention, Netvibes or Topsy. They will track mentions of your business online so you can see what is being written.
You should also set up a Google Alert (https://google.com/alerts) for your business name but I would not recommend relying solely on that service as it is not as thorough as a social monitoring service.
What lessons do you take from this post?
Share your thoughts below in the comments …