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Overcoming Negativity… Online

Wednesday, August 05, 2015 / AskCarol

I guess you could say this is a self-help article. That’s right, an online self-help article. We’ve all worried about whether or not things posted online either by ourselves or others, would come back to get us. Our online personas, for better or for worse, are a representation of how those who have not yet had the pleasure of our acquaintance will perceive us. Whether it’s an accurate representation or not is entirely questionable. It is one thing to worry about your persona online, but what about your business reputation?

According to Hubspot, 61 percent of internet users research products online and we all read online reviews before buying something or supporting a business. The bottom line is good online reviews make us trust a business, product or service more and feel better about giving them our hard earned money. This means that potential customers can be deterred from patronizing your business if they see negative reviews. For individuals with unsavory information out there in cyberspace, you could lose out on a job, potential business deal, or even a mate (come on, admit checking out your date on Google, LinkedIn or Facebook before the big event).

Negative reviews and comments can be terribly stressful, especially if they are inaccurate. In the world of public opinion, online anonymity and just plain ruthless people looking to put down an individual or sabotage a business, the possibility of being reviewed negatively online is looming in the periphery of everyone’s thoughts. Combating negative reviews can be a harrowing and sometimes difficult process but these steps make the experience a little easier.

1.    Admit that you have a problem:

First off, you have to address the reviews. Ignoring them won’t make them go away and it can make the problem worse by giving the impression that the business doesn’t care about how its customers perceive the service they are receiving. Address the situation directly with the reviewer in same forum where they originally posted the review. The response can be as simple as supplying a name and phone number for the person that will address their concerns. This will move the review offline and minimize having the public be party to your online exchanges. If given the opportunity to address a negative review take a moment to compose yourself so that you aren’t responding out of emotion. Remember to be kind and courteous and do not appear defensive. Once the issue has been resolved, ask the customer to write a follow-up review on the situation or delete it totally. If this is not possible, post an update on the situation so that the public knows that the reviewer’s issue was addressed.

2.     Ask for help:

You can ask the site where the negative information is displayed to remove the post. Some review sites will remove negative reviews if a business can prove that the allegation is untrue. There are also sites that let the merchant address negative reviews in an attempt to right the situation. Make sure to read the site’s policies before determining what the best solution is for you.

3.   Be proactive:

No matter what you do, or how well you run your business, chances are you won’t be able to make everyone happy. I know this seems defeatist, but it’s the way of the world. However, if you try your best to provide the best customer service for your clients and check with them during their experience with your business to make sure they are happy, you will minimize the chances of receiving a negative online review. It’s also important for businesses to have social media sites, not only as an outlet to engage with customers, but social media sites allow customers express positive or negative experiences. This minimizes the chance that a customer could find sources outside your control to post their experiences and if it was a negative one, you may never find it, but a potential customer could.

It’s not always about negativity! Remember to respond to the positive reviews as well. Positive reviews can help to offset negative ones, ideally there will be far more positive reviews anyway. When potential customers can see that a business is engaged with its client base it makes them more likely to become a customer. In addition, ask customers to review their experience. Encourage them to like, comment and subscribe to information being distributed about your business. This will help encourage the “word of mouth” business growth that can make you become more successful. Use Google alerts to monitor mentions of your business. This will help you stay on top of negative and positive reviews so that you can address them in a timely manner.

4.    Call in the experts:

Utilize a reputation management firm. Yes, such a thing does exist. There are marketing agencies, kind of like superheroes that manage the reputation of businesses and individuals.  In fact, mRELEVANCE has expertise in this area. We have run reputation management campaigns for various clients since 2006 and have successfully moved negative reviews on big name sites to page two or beyond. Hiring a reputation management company can be a huge help, especially if you have a specific way you’d like your business seen in the public eye. However, the cost can be an issue for a smaller business so, the service may be more financially viable for larger businesses and corporations that simply don’t have the time to manage their own online personas or social media sites.

Yes, it’s true, managing the online reputation of your business can be a full time job, but if done well, the rewards can catapult you into sustained success, you will have a reputation that precedes you, and it will be a great one.

Published by : Ask Carol
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