Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation

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Why is managing your online reputation so important? Because any number of important people may be looking up your company online:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Shareholders/Investors
  • Journalists
  • Bloggers

 

All of these people have the potential to damage your business if what they see online negatively affects their perception your organization. Whether they find a bad product review or a controversial news story that involves your company, the fallout could range anywhere from losing a customer to seeing a widespread boycott of your products or services.1

 

Review sites are all over the internet, but some of the most prominent ones include:

  • Yelp!
  • Google Reviews
  • YellowPages
  • CitySearch
  • Angie’s List2

 

There are also numerous sites that are industry specific. TripAdvisor is just one example of a review site for the travel and accommodations sector. Most review sites use a star rating system to rank your organization (usually four or five stars).

 

There are two types of negative reviews you may encounter, and each is best approached with a different strategy:

 

Legitimately dissatisfied customers: You can’t always make everybody happy, and nobody expects you to be perfect. What customers do expect is a prompt, appropriate resolution to their problem. If you find a review online where a customer has a legitimate concern about a product or service, it’s best to address the issue immediately. The golden rule is:

 

Apologize publicly, respond privately

 

A sincere public apology lets other readers see that your company is ready and willing to acknowledge and correct mistakes. But publicly airing the resolution will come across as disengenuous nearly every time. It’s better to resolve the issue privately and allow the customer to edit or remove their own review. It will sound better coming from them anyway.

 

Inaccurate or false reviews: You are bound to come across misinformation about your company at some point. Though it is often said that “the customer is always right,” if they are spreading rumours about your company, you do not have to accept it. You can try to have the review removed by the site’s moderators, but there’s a good chance they will not do it. When this happens, respond to the review by clearly and politely explaining why the information is false. Provide evidence if you can. This won’t convince everyone, but it’s better than no response at all.3

 

In the end, negative reviews — whether true or false — will remain online indefinitely, and will continue to affect your star rating. The only thing you can do to offset this is to encourage your satisfied customers to post positive reviews as well. You could provide an incentive to customers, but if you do this, remember: the review shouldn’t have to be positive for the customer to be eligible. When it comes to online reputation management, honesty should be the ultimate goal.4

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