Protecting Your Online Business Reputation
One of the wonderful things about the Internet is that you can not only find a business in your local area, but you can also immediately read the experiences of other patrons to help you better decide which business to patronize. In a recent online search for a repair shop to get a sole replaced on a pair of cowboy’s boots, I found several businesses in my immediate area. One had a laundry list of negative comments. The other had no comments at all. Guess which one I chose to patronize?
These days, most of us are quite adept at posting our experiences about local retailers, vendors and restaurants online. However, what happens when those negative comments are about your business? You can’t retract them so what do you do?
One positive step is to offer customers a blog, forum, or satisfaction survey form on your website. This gives a disgruntled customer an opportunity to air their concerns in relative privacy. Without this, disgruntled customers are more likely to air their concerns in a much more public forum.
However, some negative comments are likely to be aired publically so it’s very important to be aware of the comments being posted far and wide about your business. These days, it is easier than you might think to keep track of public postings about your business.
One way is through Google itself. If you don’t have a free Google account, you should. Those masters of search have some wonderful, free tools, like “Google Alerts” which will ferret out and alert you whenever reviews and comments appear any where on Google regarding your business.
For more comprehensive monitoring of both online and print publications, there are several good subscription services, like ewatch through PRNewsWire.
If you choose a free service like “Google Alerts,” you can set it up to scan the Internet for standard queries, like the name of your business, and you will receive an email alert when anything matching your search appears.
When setting up your queries, keep in mind that people making a comment about your business may use a variety of forms of your business name or specific employee name. For instance, if the business name is “Joe’s Tire Store,” someone writing a comment about that business might write, “Joe’s Tires,” or “Joe’s Tire Shop, ” etc.; so you’ll want to set-up multiple queries that include your business name in the forms most often used. You might also want to include your name or manager’s name’s as these names may be used in a posted comment as well.
Next is to take action. Nothing soothes a disgruntled customer like an acknowledgement of their experience. If the comment is posted in the place that you can respond, do so. But carefully word your responses so that they don’t appear defensive or argumentative. Use the 4 “R’s” of crisis management.
Your open acknowledgement and resolution will assure future customers that your business, while not perfect, will make every effort to correct a concern.
- Regret – express “regret” at the situation
- Resolution – offer an immediate “resolution”
- Reform – Let the customer know what you will do to prevent similar situations in the future
- Restitution – offer some perk/discount that allows the customer to feel like they are made “whole” after the experience.
If the comment is posted in manner that you can not publically respond, make every effort to determine who posted the comment and contact them offline via telephone or email using the same 4 “R’s.”
Another action step is to encourage happy customers to post their favorable comments. Most online review sites post the most recent comment first, so adding positive comments will push the negative ones down on the list. Additionally, one or two negative comments interspersed among positive comments will probably not tip the scales against your business. Most people recognize that not every transaction with a business is going to be perfect.
When guarding your business’s public reputation, the most important step is to be vigilant in knowing who is saying what about your business.
Jean M. Rowan is the Senior Web Marketing Specialist with ASENZ Marketing a global online marketing platform and design company with its North American headquarters is located in San Antonio, TX.
Posted by Jean Rowan on 23rd December, 2011 | Comments | Trackbacks
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