Reputation management is a key element of maintaining a positive presence online, and a positive presence online is integral to your company’s success. The majority of consumers research an organization prior to doing business with it. If potential clients don’t like what they find, it could cost you the sale.
There isn’t a company in the world that is viewed favorably 100 percent of the time. No matter how great your product or services, or how well you treat your employees, there will always be a critic. The goal of reputation management is not to pretend that your critics don’t exist; instead, it’s a strategy to prevent one or two critics from destroying the solid reputation that you’ve spent years building up.
Although it would be great if no one complained about your company, ever, this is not a realistic expectation, nor is it a realistic goal of managing your reputation. Efforts should be focused instead on determining the right way to handle those critics and complaints, and this can change depending on the circumstance involved.
There have been some cases where the idea of reputation management has been used as an example of shady or not-quite-ethical business practices. Much like any business strategy, there are positive and negative ways to clean up your online reputation. Bullying or stonewalling an outspoken critic, or deleting any negative reviews and pretending they never existed, is probably not the best way to ensure that you look good online.
The way you handle a customer complaint is a quality that many other customers look at when deciding whether to patronize a business. If you ignore a complaint or respond defensively, or actively try to bury or delete a complaint, it will reflect worst upon your business than the complaint itself ever could have. Responding publicly in a constructive, positive way addresses any customer concerns and, at the same time, shows potential customers that your business is willing to work with an unhappy client to resolve their problem.
One of the most effective (and ethical) strategies for cleaning up your online reputation is simply to stay positive. Continue producing quality content online and delivering superior products or services in real life. The more positive, authentic content that exists for your business, the lower down negative reviews or commentary will rank in any search results when potential customers are researching your company.
To understand why ensuring positive, interesting results are important for any online searches of your business, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. As a customer, which business are you more likely to trust with your money: a company with low reviews and complaints visible in the first few results returned by a search engine, or one with engaging content and interesting articles? A company which provides a quality online experience for the customer while responding calmly and effectively to complaints or criticism will win the customer every time. Understanding this formula makes it clear why reputation management is vital to your continued success.
Written by David Kaufer
David Kaufer is Founding Partner and Chief Dynamic Office in Kaufer DMC. He’s also a huge Oregon Ducks & Microbrew nut, Dad of awesome 8 year-old twin boys, husband, and big Sustainability and Autism advocate.