Reputation management is a prerequisite for any business or online marketer. But the unfortunate truth is, most marketers only focus on their business reputation when they fall victim to the fury and frustration of disgruntled customers or are pounded with destructive feedback and reviews.
Ideally, online reputation management must be planned as a proactive approach. You just cannot wait for your business to be struck by disaster and then lose your calm over the plight worrying how you are going to deal with it.
As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Managing your online image, identity and everything in between should be a priority. There has to be a well-thought-out plan and prevention strategies that could be implemented before reputation issues crop up in the first place.
Keeping that in mind, we have prepared a step-by-step guide to help you deal mindfully with harsh criticism from unhappy customers and keep your online reputation clean and intact.
Ok, you find some negative reviews on the first page of Google when searching for your brand. What the next thing you do? More often than not, you immediately implement the best SEO and ORM practices you know to get those negatives down.
Unfortunately, this is why most businesses fail when it comes to managing poor or damaged online reputation. They take online criticism emotionally and personally and end up taking abrupt yet callous actions out of frustration.
Shouldn’t analysing the situation carefully be the first thing to do in the same scenario? Why your reputation tanked? Is it your products or customer service that failed your business? Admitting your fault may not be easy even but it’s definitely the first step to take to set yourself in the right direction.
So, before you take the plunge, take some time to ponder the predicament. To get started with your introspective analysis, find answers to the following questions.
- What good or bad are people saying about your brand or business? Where is it coming from?
- What internal problems need to be fixed?
- How did we respond to customer queries and reviews? Have we been able to address issues publicly? Was it well received?
- Are there any common and recurring complaints?
- What steps can we take to amend our reputation and customers’ perspective?
- What are the things that your customers like about your business or service? How can you use those plus points to repair damaged reputation?
- What are the things that are swaying your customers away?
Finding answers to these questions is winning half the battle. Insights from this analysis will help you determine the core cause of customer dissatisfaction, which possibly laid the foundation for your poor online reputation.
Collecting facts and data
Managing damaged reputation is not an overnight process. Burying negative reviews down the search engine, developing and promoting positive content, interacting with annoyed customers personally and there’s a lot more you’ll need to do in order to sort out the reputation mess.
To begin with, spot all the mentions, reviews and online posts concerning your brand. There are several advanced tools you can use to find out what people are saying about your company, products and services. What’ more, many of these tools offer features that allow you to extract and organise customer information in quite manageable ways.
In addition, you can conduct online surveys and polls to fetch information about your products, service, customer likes and dislikes and more.
Classification and analysis of data
Now that you have significant information and specifics about your customers, you can sort the facts into three categories:
This category will include reviews and comments that are neither bad nor good. There are situations where buyers have neutral opinions about their purchase, not too happy not too displeased, just satisfied. While neutral feedback does no harm to your reputation, you can use this information to figure out what improvements can be made to turn customers’ neutral opinion into constructive experience and outlook.
Not only are positive reviews beneficial and easy to find, they call for minimal effort. There isn’t much you will need to do about those mentions except analysing them to identify your strengths. These fortes can further be leveraged to influence your prospects and make new customers.
Here’s where the most work can be done. Negative mentions and feedback are the most fatal and significant information when it comes to repairing the damage caused to your reputation. When sorting adverse mentions and reviews, focus your effort on websites with highest visibility. There are a number of tools on the web to assess the strength of a website by checking its domain authority.
Build and execute a reputation management plan
- If you’re dealing with negative reputation, you can expect unfavourable reviews and mentions on any number of pages. Your goal should be to establish a strategy to push negatives on the first page of search engine results down and make positive constructive content appear instead.
- The most feasible way to get negative mentions removed is to reach out to website owners and ask if they could remove the content.
- If that doesn’t work, you go the legal way. Most websites would not want to get into legal trouble and may take the negative content off their site immediately.
- Alternatively, you can leverage content marketing to replace unpleasing reviews and feedback with SEO-friendly blogs, articles and social posts. Remember, for this technique to work it is imperative that your content is high in quality and relevant to what people are looking for.
- While you’re trying all these methods to wipe negative reviews away from the web, reaching out to disgruntled customers through mail, over phone or via other medial platforms can help a lot in comforting customers and rebuilding trust.
Poor reputation can take a toll on your business and cost you customers and sales. It is advisable to be informed of what’s happening around your brand from the very beginning so that you can spot issues straightaway and take action to avoid problems from getting bigger and more detrimental.