It's every small business owner’s worst nightmare: A negative online review of your business or an angry complaint on social media goes viral and destroys your business’s reputation. While these fears may be overblown—after all, 68 percent of consumers say they trust reviews more when they see negative as well as positive ones—the need to maintain your online reputation is real. What’s the best way to do it? Here are five steps.
1. Monitor what people are saying about you. With so many social media sites, blogs and websites out there, keeping track of it all might seem impossible. However, it’s easy when you use a tool like ReputationAlert to monitor your online reputation. ReputationAlert tracks thousands of websites, including social media platforms and blogs, and monitors all mentions of your business. It then sends you daily alerts of both positive and negative comments about your business so you’re always up-to-date on what is being said about you.
2. Respond quickly to negative comments and reviews. Responding to a customer instead of ignoring them can make all the difference in preserving your business’s good reputation. Don’t believe me? In one survey, 33 percent of people who got a response from a company after leaving a negative review ended up writing a positive review, 34 percent deleted the original negative review, and 18 percent ultimately became loyal customers of the business. Often, unhappy customers just want to be heard. By responding to their comments and listening to what they have to say, you’re halfway to resolving the issue.
3. Don't get defensive. Respond to criticism quickly, but not so quickly that you post the first thing that comes into your head. It’s natural to get angry when someone says something bad about your business. However, it’s important not to vent your anger at the customer—especially not online, where the world can see. Start by apologizing; then ask to take the issue off-line so you can discuss it in depth and fully understand the problem. (You don’t want to conduct a back-and-forth with a customer in full view of everyone on social media.)
4. Share the solution. Once you and the angry customer have come to an agreement on how to resolve the complaint, be sure to post the outcome in the same place as the negative review. Other customers and prospects will be impressed you took the complaint seriously and took action. There’s also a good chance the complaining customer will change his tune and write a positive review of how you handled the situation.
5. Put out positive vibes. Be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to the way your business is portrayed online. The best way to boost your online reputation is by taking charge of your own online presence. Create a quality business website (Lighthouse 360 can help). Use Lighthouse 360 to quickly update your social media accounts so you can maintain an active presence on the social networks your customers frequent. Ask satisfied customers for reviews—Lighthouse 360 makes that easy by automatically requesting reviews when a job is done. All these efforts will go a long way toward creating a positive image of your business that no negative review can destroy.