The rise of social media has exposed businesses to overwhelming publicity, some of it good, some of it bad. If customers are unsatisfied with any product or service, they can easily vent their anger on a brand’s Facebook, Yelp, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages. Even if you’ve done your best to provide amazing service, you won’t be able to please every customer, every time. That’s why as a business, it’s critical to have a comprehensive online reputation management strategy in place so when the bad publicity hits, you have a game plan to minimize the damage.
Here are some important online reputation management do’s and don’ts you should know:
Claim your business on Google, Yelp, and other industry-specific sites that pertain to your business like TripAdvisor, Healthgrades or OpenTable — and if you haven’t already done it, set up a Facebook page. Even if you haven’t setup these accounts yourself, customers can do it for you, so the pages may already exist. After claiming your business, make sure the phone number, address and other contact information associated with it is accurate. Now start optimizing your business profiles on these platforms. Make sure to add a company description, high-quality images, videos, contact information and a link back to your website.
Read also: How to claim a business on Google
This might sound obvious, but it’s a frequently overlooked step: get clear on who your audience is before trying to market to them. This includes everything from location, demographic, purchase behavior, needs, and any other details you need to construct a specific buyer persona. Knowing your audience will help you set the appropriate tone, subject matter and content that you plan to share with them. This will help you to extract maximum benefits from online channels. A great way to gather this information is through customer surveys — see how you can make your own easily.
This goes hand-in-hand with the advice above. Once you understand precisely who your prospective customers are, don’t drain time and resources chasing ones who are unlikely to frequent your business. Chart out your communication strategy beforehand so you’re not just blasting marketing fluff into the wind. Targeted, data-driven campaigns with clear, tangible goals are the most likely to succeed.
Engagement is key. Take full advantage of the online medium by having conversations with your customers, in real-time, wherever they are. Comment on their social media posts and publish interactive posts of your own that get them talking to you and each other. Regularly ask for their suggestions and feedback, and respond promptly and constructively to their complaints. The more authentic conversations out there, the better; customers rely more on the opinions of their peers than learning about your brand from advertising.
Learn how BirdEye’s Social Engagement makes starting customer conversations on social incredibly easy.
When people make noise about a business, it often means they either love it or hate it. Although negative feedback is frustrating, don’t turn your back on it and hope it goes away. It won’t. Instead, make a point of thoughtfully responding to customer complaints. This can stop problems from escalating into crises and turn negative reviews into positive interactions that won’t steer prospects away. People know every business makes mistakes — it’s how they own up to them that counts most.
Read also: How to respond to negative reviews
When you come across an angry customer, let them know publicly that you are fully committed to resolving their issue — this way, other customers who see their post or review know you care about your customers. However, working through the whole issue in one long public thread is rarely the best approach. This usually just escalates into a harshly worded argument that helps no one. Instead, provide the name and contact information of the employee who will resolve their issue, and make sure that person is available immediately to provide thorough support. Handling problems this way can even lead to the customer deleting or editing their original post.
Avoid pushy marketing messages when responding to reviews. The fact that you are responding to feedback is the positive message — you don’t want to sell harder at this point, it could drive customers away.
Always be thankful. Your brand’s success depends upon your customers, so wherever possible, show your appreciation for them. Responding to positive feedback is as important as managing to the negative.
Show professionalism and avoid disagreeing with the customer, even if they are actually in the wrong. Try to clear up any misunderstandings with patience rather than getting defensive. This demonstrates confidence and authority, strengthening trust in your brand.
They are the ones who enthusiastically promote your brand without expecting anything in return. Try to show them some appreciation on a regular basis, whether this is through a loyalty program or special promotions based on their past purchases. Little gestures of gratitude like these keep your brand top of mind and reminds them why they do business with you.
Negative reviews are still honest, authentic feedback on how your business is doing, and that is invaluable. Consider them constructive criticism, and work on improving based on their comments. Negative reviews also lend credibility to all the good reviews you have, providing transparency that customers value.
Your online reputation is one of your greatest business assets if it’s managed effectively. It can be a lot of work, but there are ways to make it manageable. BirdEye lets you manage and improve your online reputation, make your customers happy, and get more customers — super easily. Sign up for a free trial to see how much BirdEye can do for your business.