The Internet affects every company’s reputation. Some companies are hailed as champions of invention and innovation. While others become known for bad customer service. You, as a business owner, have a responsibility to monitor what people are saying about your company and respond when necessary to keep your image and online reputation management at a high standard.
The digital highway is a two-way street. Your customers can reach out as easily as you can. And what they say about your company online can have a profound impact on your image.
Here are 7 tips to protect your online reputation.
- Be honest with self-analysis – It is unlikely that damage to your reputation is unwarranted – often the damage is caused by company weaknesses that get amplified and exposed. Learn from the mistakes and be honest about them.
- Control communication – Exclude inappropriate content from all of your internal and external communications. Avoid, at all costs, negative remarks in your company’s online assets. If your staff refer to customers in a less-than-respectful tone, put a stop to it.
- Monitor online chatter – Identify who the key influencers are in your industry. For example they might be bloggers, online magazines or anyone who discusses your business. You will already know the main players and competitors in your market. Target the following areas to narrow your focus;
– Google rank
– Press mentions
– Subscription numbers
– Site traffic
- Research complaints before reacting – Gather your facts, if you find negative comments about your company, gather the facts before taking action. Find out who made the comment, where, why and determine whether they have a valid complaint. React quickly by either fixing and apologising for a valid issue or do more research before you react.
- Have a Strategy – First up, as above, offer a genuine apology if needed and be transparent by letting your customers know that you are dealing with the issue. Make sure this mistake is not repeated. Secondly if after your research you believe the comments or complaints to be false then in the first instance present them with the accurate information. it may be enough to earn a retraction. If this fails use your company assets (blogs, websites, email and mailouts) to write about the complaint, point out that the complaint is wrong and that they refuse to retract their statement.
- Control the conversation – A conversation can pop up anywhere online. If one is snowballing against your company, try to bring it to your blog or website. You can do this by posting a link to it from your homepage within the comments.
- Stay Professional – Don’t stoop to unprofessional tactics when responding to complaints and criticism. It’s only natural to be defensive, but don’t take it personally. Deal with the issues efficiently after you’ve analyzed the situation.