Reputation management is a key to upholding the integrity of a brand. The emergence of social media has made reputation a constant concern for all businesses. This concern is not limited to larger organizations but also to smaller businesses that can be adversely impacted by one negative online review.
Building a reputation requires relevant, genuine and thoughtful tactics. Businesses can select the most appropriate tactics to protect and maintain their reputation online.
But first, you might be wondering, why is it important to manage your business’s online reputation?
A large part of online reputation online is understanding how your customers and target market use the web. In Trinidad and Tobago, most consumers will research your company online before making a purchase.
This includes looking at reviews, reading product/service descriptions, assessing costs and reviewing the selection available to them. A negative review can impact the public’s perception of your brand and their decision to purchase or support your company.
How is it possible to handle negative reviews and still uphold your image? Here are some tactics to consider:
1. Assess the Scope of your Social Footprint
Searching your brand name on social media channels and Google is one of the easiest ways to evaluate the current perception online. It can be a difficult task, but you must approach this objectively without allowing your emotions to consume you. No business is left unscathed on the internet so if you find very few negative comments in a sea of positivity, this is a valuable position to be in as you move forward to continually build your reputation. Negative comments are important, as it gives you insight into what may need to be addressed within your organisation. Connective Pros recommends that each negative comment deserves a response, where you can choose to justify, correct, refute or resolve. Every negative comment can be approached in this manner. Larger organizations opt for social listening apps like Brand 24, to stay on top of any mentions of their company online.
2. Don’t Ignore The Issue
Many businesses, especially smaller to medium-sized businesses in Trinidad and Tobago prefer to sweep some comments under the rug. However, some negative comments can spiral into a much larger public relations issue if they are not dealt with. Therefore, it is wise to have a standard response and procedure to handle these types of comments. Larger companies have a go-to response that often helps push the conversation offline. For example, “Hi Sharon, we are incredibly sorry to hear that this was your experience at our establishment, can you kindly share your contact information with us? A member of our team will be in contact with you shortly.”
You must also respond to these issues promptly. Even if you don’t have an answer to their complaint you should, at the least indicate that you have received the message and will alert the manager or relevant professional in the organization.
Reported issues should be looked at to ensure they do not occur again. Being transparent and honest about your mistakes is the best route because in many cases the mistake or hidden comment will likely come to haunt you in the future. Thus, it is imperative to be truthful. Avoid telling untruths or providing far fetched cover stories that can be unearthed in the future.
3. Create Long-Term Plans for these Situations
Negative commentary and feedback will occur at any point and for any business. Thus, a long-term plan to deal with these comments is necessary. This includes having protocols for negative reviews online. A standard public apology if something goes wrong and having a procedure to deal with specific complaints are vital tools for operating online. It is advisable to respond, as opposed to deleting or hiding comments. Customers will respect you publicly resolving an issue as opposed to hiding from it.
In many cases, it is wise to have a consultation with a public relations professional or firm to provide insight into the best practices and the standard for your specific industry. This is an essential element to managing your business’s reputation for any possible occurrence and having a procedure to deal with it as soon as it arrives.