21st Century Reputation Management: What’s in a Name? Building Business And Growing Goodwill

The digital revolution has put the globe at our fingertips and changed every aspect of our lives, from how we communicate with family members to how we interact with the larger world. The Internet makes it easy to search for and find almost anything – a person, a business, our groceries or detailed research on nearly any topic.

As a business owner, establishing and maintaining a positive Internet profile makes it easier to market your business, but it also makes it easier for people to share their opinions about your business.  In today’s society, almost half of the world population has an Internet connection, so it is vital that you know how to conduct yourself in a digital world to protect your credibility in the real world.

A large part of your online reputation is self-generated, especially in the ever growing world of social media. What you post on behalf of your business, on blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, reflects the character and mindset of your business. If your posts to social media reflect a commitment to customer service and product or service quality, then potential customers will understand your values. If you conduct both retail and online business transactions, it’s important to remember that courtesy, prompt service and honest practices are just as important to the online customer as they are in a retail setting – and both will generate customer reviews.

Happy customers often need a gentle reminder to post a positive review.  Many companies encourage this practice as part of their sales process, with great results.  Unhappy customers are highly self-motivated in airing their opinions.  Negative customer reviews are a fact of business life today.  Learning to cultivate a calm, measured response to negative customer reviews is a NECESSITY and an art form.

Sometimes, the unhappy customer is right.  So, if their social media posting, however offensive, identifies an actual problem with what they purchased:

  • Apologize
  • Communicate their value to you as a customer
  • Ask them to contact you so the matter can be resolved
  • (and now you look great in the eyes of your current and potential customers)

Sometimes, the unhappy customer is politely wrong, dead wrong, unreasonably wrong, unjustly wrong, etc.  These are the reviews that will try your patience, the responses that will make or break consumers’ perception of your business.  Take a deep breath and:

  • Apologize (“We’re sorry that you’ve had a bad experience, but…”)
  • Briefly lay out the facts, politely communicate that you delivered, as promised
  • Communicate their value to you as a customer
  • Ask them to contact you so the matter can be resolved
  • (and now you look great in the eyes of your current and potential customers)

Your business’s name, your reputation, is your greatest asset. Protecting that asset, in a dynamic digital environment, will be challenging and rewarding, but worth your best effort.

Don’t fight in a public forum – If you are a blogger unable to reason with a negative reader, there is no use engaging in a public boxing match in front of a worldwide audience.

Some bloggers limit their number of responses to a hostile reader.  Some people post hostile comments that include personal attacks, and try to engage bloggers in an attempt to ruin their credibility. While some search engines will take down posts that reveal someone’s Social Security Number, banking or credit card information, the image of a handwritten signature, or alternate information, unfortunately, search engines pull their content from other websites and may not want to take down the content.

Pay Attention to Social Media Platforms. Whether your business is thriving or not, pay special attention to your social media accounts. It’s important to build your social media platforms. Having a Facebook and/or Twitter accounts and keeping them active will build the audience you seek. With ongoing development, you can interact with loyal customers, which can result in an increase in your influence and engagement scores.

Reputation Also Counts for Those Associated with the Business. Many businesses are first identified by their founder’s, owner’s or leader’s names rather than by the business name. If that is the case, develop a BUSINESS social media identity for that person also, separate from their personal accounts. In addition, consider developing a reputation management strategy that will help to protect the reputation of these individuals.

 Listen, Learn and Correct.  If you’re getting negative comments on your products or services, take this as an opportunity to figure out why you’re getting those comments and take corrective action to improve that product or service. For example, you may want to reconsider small fees that are consistently the source of complaints. Is that little extra money really worth it?

Apologize.  If you or your company do something wrong, accept it and own up to it. Making a heartfelt apology will go a long way in portraying your company as being transparent and honest. Your business will come across as more genuine, and will help close the loop on a difficult situation.

Consider Professional Help. Seek legal or professional advice, if necessary. If you are unable to solve reputation problems yourself, consider hiring an online reputation management company.

Looking for more information on business tips, scam alerts and consumer news? Visit the BBBlog on bbb.org – it’s updated daily with tips & tricks to make your company the best it can be! If you have any questions or concerns, please call (248)799-0326.

 

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