by SEO Savvy July 22nd, 2014
The opportunities for online engagement between customers and companies has opened up within the last decade, which means the work of reputation management has become more complicated. Review sites, blogs, and social media platforms allow customers to amplify their opinions far and wide. Great reviews and feedback can mean a major boost in sales, but bad press doesn’t have to be a death sentence. If you play your cards right, a savvy response to a customer’s complaint can get more mileage than even the most carefully planned SEO or social marketing campaign.
Review Dos and Don’ts
While reviews appear on various online business profile sites like Angie’s List and Google Plus Local, Yelp is the most trusted authority in the customer review world. They recommend that business owners maintain and improve their online reputation by responding to customer complaints and regularly updating their content. Keep your comments positive and solution-oriented, and strive to maintain a consistent voice in your response to each and every customer. This may mean having a dedicated person on staff to manage your account, or simply creating clear, well crafted, consistent “template(s)” for responding to reviews.
Though it may be tempting – especially if you’re just getting started – to fudge the truth, you should always avoid soliciting positive reviews. Yelp works hard to make sure that all reviews are genuine. But feel free to display your Yelp badge and offer Yelp-approved incentives, including deals and discounts for customers who find your business through Yelp.
Selectively Social: Managing Tweets, Blogs, and Facebook Feedback
Customer feedback and online interaction can be great for improving your business and online rep, but be sure to heed the hard lessons learned from businesses who were a bit too upfront on social media. Forbes Magazine notes the many missteps made by Amy’s Baking Company, the small business that achieved their 15 minutes of fame after a brief and vicious turn on a reality TV show. Viewers took to the company’s social media platform to offer commentary on their rude business practices, and instead of using the opportunity to do damage control, the company continued to “feed the trolls.” Where they could have simply responded calmly and apologetically, or just walked away for a little while until their tempers cooled, employees from Amy’s Baking Company lashed out with insults, effectively placing the nail in their reputation’s coffin.
While this was a particularly extreme situation, it’s not uncommon to be faced with rude or otherwise negative comments online. The key is to stay on top of your notifications for Twitter, Facebook, and your company’s blog. Respond quickly and professionally to legitimate complaints, but refrain from engaging publicly with those who are clearly determined to find something wrong wherever they go (see this infographic from Smart Insights on how to identify the kind of customer you’re dealing with).
A recent survey from Sprout Social reports that business respond on average only 11% to 28% of the time they received a notification. Remember that managing your brand through reviews and comments is a customer service role. By working to respond more frequently, you can pull ahead of the pack and stop negative online attacks in their tracks.