Your business’s online reputation is inherently tied to your overall brand experience, which includes both your online and offline customer service. So, to simply try and ‘fix’ your online reputation would be a disservice to your brand, business, and customers. It would be a duct tape and super glue kind of fix, one that ignores the root issues of why your online reputation is less than stellar.
Fear not though, as this is not a blog post telling you to raise the white flag and abandon any and all online accounts. You are however going to have to venture out into the vast and cruel space that is the Internet to identify your own business’s strengths and weaknesses to find out what kind of customer service your business is providing.
Read customer reviews, Facebook posts, tweets, YouTube comments, and find any other site that might include your business information and allow people to leave a comment. Conducting a Google search for your business name and then another one for your business name plus the word “reviews” is a good place to start.
Most review sites allow users to remain anonymous or to hide behind a username, which means feedback is mostly honest, sometimes with a side of crazy. And as much as it might be unpleasant to read the negative comments, they can ultimately be helpful if you view the feedback as constructive criticism.
For instance, if a number of people complain about the prices, or say that employees are rude, or don’t like the food, or were exasperated by how long their service took – well now you’ve got yourself some actionable items to start working on. Learn from the mistakes, make changes to your team and/or processes, and then seek feedback from customers moving forward. Creating and utilizing customer satisfaction surveys are one way to do this.
Maintain & Monitor Your Online Reputation
Managing your business’s online reputation is an ongoing process. After the initial discovery and read-through of reviews, comments, and tweets, continue to check the review sites you found, and make sure to follow up or respond to new posts.
For positive reviews, a simple “thank you” is a nice way to show gratitude and to demonstrate that you’re listening to what customers have to say. For negative reviews, make sure to move the conversation offline. Respond with an apology and offer to discuss the matter further by providing contact information to someone who actually has the power to help.
Another tip – Don’t panic if a new negative review is written. Read it, respond to it, and take the customer’s concerns and criticism into consideration. Bad reviews do happen; sometimes they are valid, but sometimes a customer just can’t be satisfied. If your business is doing everything right, then there should be plenty of positive reviews to counterbalance the lousy ones. (FYI: This only works if there are a LOT of 5-star reviews.)
The Internet has an incredible memory. You can’t erase past reviews, but you can learn from them. When it comes to your business’s online reputation, there is no such thing as a clean slate, just forward progress. Be proud of the changes you make and feel free to boast about them. Let your customers know if you’ve unveiled a new menu, now have lower prices, or offer some kind of service guarantee. Give people a reason to come back.
Responding to reviews, implementing changes, and making announcements about the ‘bigger and better’ things you are doing all demonstrate your commitment to the customer. From there your online reputation should start to fix itself.
By Jamie Paton