Your business’ reputation may be one of its most important assets. As part of your business’ Internet marketing plan, you should know how you will go about protecting and cultivating the online reputation of your business in the face of negative comments and online reviews? There is not necessarily one correct answer to this question. Each situation should be analyzed in its context so that your business can react appropriately.
If your business reacts inappropriately to negative online comments, you can end up doing more harm to your reputation than the original negative comment. Here are a few guidelines that you can follow when facing a negative comment or review online:
- Think before you act. While it may be tempting to just delete a negative comment or review, you should avoid doing so without first addressing the problem. Investigate the complaint and decide how you will address the problem, if there is one. Was the negative comment the work of a competitor trying to sabotage your business’ reputation, or was there an incident that you should be addressing? Do you need to reprimand an employee or provide further training? Once you know what led to the negative comment, you can decide how to properly respond.
- Be professional and tactful. Never provide an emotional response to an online comment, no matter how much you may be hurt by the negative response to your business. Sarcasm and bullying are similarly inappropriate.
While it is often beneficial to respond to negative comments online to show that your business always responds to customer concerns, avoid getting into a back-and-forth war online. A good rule of thumb is to respond once online and invite the critic to contact you directly with any further concerns. Make sure that you deal with the critic’s problem. Don’t just pawn them off on an employee who has no power to improve the situation.
- Acknowledge the mistake, apologize and seek feedback on how to improve. If your business has made a mistake, apologizing for the problem and offering to fix it can go a long way towards defusing a customer’s anger. Asking for suggestions on how to improve a customer’s experience might allow you to both resolve the critic’s specific problem and lead you to improve one of your business’ practices.
- Cultivate positive comments and reviews. One negative comment amongst a sea of genuine positive comments will be more likely to be seen as an anomaly by potential customers. Provide your customers with a great product or service and encourage them to provide their honest feedback online.
Incorporating these strategies into your Internet marketing plan will help your business to improve its online reputation.