Trouble Getting Customer Reviews? Read Our Brilliant Online Reputation Management Guide

Updated: May 3, 2020

2018 Online Reputation Management Guide
Online Reputation Management Guide 2018

Learn what companies in Lehigh Valley are doing to fix negative reviews and build online reputations in our FREE Online Reputation Management Guide.

Not sure you're taking the right approach with online reputation management? Maybe you think negative reviews are best left with big-time PR agencies or you think anytime people are talking about your business is good news. You might not even know that you can strategically guide your social media to increase brand awareness and increase sales.

In this guide, we're going to explain how online reputation management can help your business in the following sections:

  • You're buzz-worthy

  • Being Transparent, Vulnerable and Naked…

  • Failures from Online Transparency

  • What are People Saying?

  • When the Damage is Done

  • Do We Have a Problem Here?

  • 10 Online Reputation Management Tips

  • Online Reputation Management is Important

You're buzz-worthy

A few years ago, if someone was talking about your business, it was over the phone or over the fence as consumers compared one business's products and services with another. Now it's likes, tweets, pins and shares, and it's also reviews that draw more customers to you or quickly turn them away.

The content that's online is user generated and it has a voice that is followed by others so if they see all 5-star feedbacks they will follow you and shop with you. Negative reviews, on the other hand, can take them elsewhere with no explanation. That's why your interactions with your customers can increase the success of your business reputation online.

Being Transparent, Vulnerable and Naked…

A new way that businesses have approached sales is to let customers see online reviews from others to let them have honest feedback. It's transparency and because people are on smartphones they want an instant connection. You might feel extremely vulnerable because you're completely naked until that customer leaves that 5-star feedback.

What is this transparency? Here are a few examples:

  • Letting employees share information on products and services. Think Best Buy staff who pitch products to customers with honest user opinions

  • Asking for and posting feedback from customers

  • Leaving feedback that's visible to all whether positive or scathing negative reviews

Not that easy, right? A lot of smaller businesses don't use this approach because they can't afford one negative review let alone thousands. Look at all the bad PR that Samsung is getting right now. That's why transparency can be risky.

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Failures from Online Transparency

Companies that have tried the transparency approach have sometimes failed disastrously. Think Netflix with Reed Hastings, "We screwed up." It took years for them to build consumer trust again.

In being open with customers, there are a few considerations you may want to factor in:

  • What if there's too much negative feedback or criticism?

  • What if your PR efforts fail and make matters worse?

  • What if you lose money and can't get those customers back? Will they run to the competition?

This is where a map can help you with outlining your online reputation management. By developing a map or a plan, you can establish how you will deal with scenarios that can include negative feedback, lawsuits, recalls, etc., before a problem even starts. Everyone keeps a plunger at home. You just hope you don't ever need it.

Here are a few examples of where businesses have failed with online reputation management:

A hotel offers free internet but receives negative reviews that the speed isn't fast enough. The hotel replies in a defensive manner that their internet speed is fine, never really addressing the needs of business executives who might even want to pay for internet to ensure they can meet the demands of their companies. Smart hotels offer a free internet service, but also a paid package to address this and they mention it in reviews online so others will see and know they've corrected the problem with an acceptable alternative.

A coffee worker wrote a negative message on the side of a cup of coffee and the patron was insulted. The patron took to the internet and the coffee worker responded which led to an argument. The coffee company never apologized and the news media eventually got involved. By then, the patron was threatening a lawsuit against the coffee shop for discrimination. They should have apologized right away to the person online and included that the employee was reprimanded as the behavior didn't represent the coffee shop.

Obviously not all press is good press, so you have to know how to put out the fire right away!

ways to control your online reputation
Chatty women share everything... Don't let bad reviews be one of them!

What are People Saying?

Knowing when to respond is crucial. With positive feedback, you can monitor the 5-star feedback and occasionally leave a thank you. This is common with online reviews for hotels on sites like Trip Advisor.

When reviews become negative, it's important to also address them right away. About 88% of people base their shopping decisions on the reviews that are left. Building a brand that has public reviews can work if you fix every crack that has a leak, so to speak. Take the hotel that had a complaint for loud music. Right away the manager posts an apology, mentions that the problem has been corrected and that it's not the hotel's policy to have late night parties.

This form of social media monitoring can help customers in a proactive approach because when they see messages from managers and owners, they know that the problem has been immediately dealt with.

Monitoring of social media accounts can be done by a company or through a web monitoring tool like Google Alert for example.

Need help with monitoring your social media accounts? Let D Koder Marketing create the right plan for you.

When the Damage is Done

Negative complaints should be dealt with properly, but there are other types of complaints that can be a bit trickier. Let's look at the case of Samsung and the phones that are catching fire.

This example with Samsung is one where the damage is done because they failed to respond right away with an apology, a recall, or a coupon. Because more incidents were on the news, this opened the door to consumers questioning the safety of Samsung's phones. Now they have issues with exploding washing machines, so that makes customers more reluctant to make a purchase with them in the future. This can affect long term sales. When customers do a search and see negative content, it can turn them away from your products and services. A negative review can be very damaging. Think about negative reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau.

In addition to that, reviews can be so damaging if the issues aren't addressed that customers can start hate sites that focus strictly on a business. Think PETA targeting Tyson Foods or Perdue Chicken. These reviews can be very damaging. If there is negative news, that can be even worse. Ikea ran into this problem with dressers that were top heavy and would fall onto children. After a few lawsuits, the company finally came forward to state that the dressers should be screwed into the back of the wall. This wasn't a timely move by Ikea as several groups of mothers had already made their own videos demonstrating the dangers and the dressers were mentioned on several news stations.

Do We Have a Problem Here? 

While everyone has a right to their opinion, there are laws if certain activities aren't respectful or if they're downright illegal. Because boundaries should be respected, online reputation through feedback and reviews should be monitored to ensure there is no defamatory language, false or misleading information or slander meant to damage the company's reputation.

Think of all the money Domino's Pizza lost over the years because their competitors ran ads stating, "At least our pizza doesn't taste like cardboard," because they knew that online reviews indicated Domino's Pizza crust was hard and stale like cardboard. While Domino's was able to put a positive PR spin on it with their new pizza recipe, they lost a lot of customers and money in the interim.

It's imperative that a business stay on top of all reviews and handle negative reviews accordingly. False information or slander should be removed right away even if legal recourse is the only remedy to help protect a business's reputation.

Have a question about a negative review or site that's damaging your business? Contact D Koder Marketing about online reputation management plan tools that can help.

10 Online Reputation Management Tips

Use the following 10 Online Reputation Management tips to help you with protecting your business and its reputation:

  1. Build respect: When customers respect you they will share information about you with others.

  2. Be transparent: Even if mistakes are made, be honest and fix them right away.

  3. Monitor your feedback: Don't assume all feedback is positive. Keep an eye on your feedback and if you have too much feedback to monitor on your own, hire someone. There are companies that specialize in negative keywords that can alert you to a problem right away.

  4. React right away but choose your words: By establishing how you will handle complaints, this can avoid flippant answers that can lead to negative press and lawsuits. Have a generic, scripted response ready for different scenarios.

  5. Address criticism with character: Not all reviews and feedback will be positive, but thank the person and acknowledge areas that need work. A hotel in Florida had construction and reviewers all complained for a month straight. A savvy manager went in and replied and stated when the construction would end and offered passes for free breakfast. This was also shared and reviews were all positive thereafter.

  6. Make your Google page 1 search flawless: If your first page has anything negative, deal with it. If there's anything that's considered slander and includes the words scam or rip off, then you may want to have your attorney contact the site promptly with a cease and desist order.

  7. Understand the negative wording: Just like with the example of Domino's Pizza, criticism should be dealt with. It took Domino's years to realize that their pizza was that bad. Pay attention to what your customers are saying so you can fix problems before it affects your profits.

  8. Don't be afraid to fight: If you have been slandered in some way, don't be afraid to fight. Chances are the person has done it before and this can help a ruling to be made in your favor.

  9. Learn by example: Just like the case of Samsung taking too long with an apology and recall, be upfront and be honest. You'll lose less in the long run.

  10. Ask for help: If you need a professional to help you with your online reputation management plan, hire one.

Online Reputation Management is Important

Whether you're looking for reputation management, ways to build up your online reputation or you just need help with Google reviews, if you need help, turn to a marketer or web service that can create a blueprint for your business. Your business reputation is everything and you want to protect it with a proactive approach to reviews, responses and feedback to maintain a positive brand image.

D Koder Marketing has software that's super easy for customers to leave reviews about products and services and there's little effort needed on the part of the business owner. These affordable plans can help you focus your time on growing and scaling your business and connecting with your customers.

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