Trying to keep a handle on your online reputation is not always an easy task. There is a lot of information to keep up with. That information is spread across many different sites on the Internet. And to make sure your work is never done, it is constantly changing.
Reputation management, in its simplest terms, boils down to customer service. Even if you don’t know anything about reputation management at all, you probably understand the most basic concept behind it; you want your reputation to be good.
Most of us can sit down and think of at least a few things that would be good to do if we want to improve either our own reputation or that of our business, but what about things that we shouldn’t do? It’s important to keep in mind that when you’re interacting with customers or clients in a public space, doing the wrong thing can send your reputation spiraling down just as quickly (if not quicker) as doing something good that bumps it up a notch. The list of things that you should try to avoid might even be longer than the list of things you should try to achieve.
Good intentions can turn into a public relations nightmare when things are misunderstood, either by you or by the client. While the Internet has brought us instant communication with people everywhere, it has also made it much easier for our (written) words to be misunderstood. There is no face to face communication allowing us to read body language and gestures nor is there a voice to give us cues through tone and timber.
One should always keep this in mind when talking to an unknown person in a written form, which is how most of your reputation management will be done. If you ever feel your words could be misinterpreted, use different words or give a longer explanation to make sure things are crystal clear. Think about this when reading other people’s comments as well. Remember, anything you say on the Internet is going to stay there for a long, long time. It will be seen by other people.
So with all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things that should be avoided when it comes to trying to manage your online reputation.
Don’t Get Defensive
Nobody likes hearing negative comments. Whether the words are meant as constructive criticism or outright insults, it’s never a good feeling to hear something bad about yourself or something that you’ve poured your heart into, like your business.
It’s natural to want to try to set the record straight, but you have to be careful about how you do it. If you respond in a way that comes off as forceful or angry in any way, you will be seen as anything from unfriendly to arrogant and insulting.
The first rule here is that you should never answer any type of negative review if you are angry. If you feel yourself getting a little hot under the collar, wait until you’ve had time to cool off before you write a single word. Answering back out of anger will only make things worse, often much worse.
Your goal should be to make the customer happy, not to prove that you are right. Take responsibility for anything that has gone wrong on your end of things and offer to make it right if that’s possible. You should never place blame for a problem on the customer or any other entity, such as suppliers or partners. This only makes it look like you are trying to deflect the problem.
Dealing well with negative comments can have an extremely positive effect on how other customers and potential customers see you. Even if you’re not successful at turning the unhappy customer’s frown upside down, others will see that you care and work hard to try to make sure customers are satisfied.
We’ll talk more about mistakes that could be harming your online reputation in our next post. Watch for part 2!