On the Internet, anything can happen. People often make comments that are unfounded, or create reviews that shed small businesses in a less than favorable light for no reason at all. While comments or reviews can certainly be the true feelings of the person who wrote them, they can be very damaging to businesses. In an Internet world where businesses small and large are highly competitive, how can you take charge of online reputation management for your own business? We have a few tips for small businesses below.

First and foremost, never ignore the need to manage your company’s reputation. You may think that if you ignore the negativity it will go away, but this is not the case.

NEVER allow a bad review to go unanswered. It’s important to address both the good and the bad online – and regardless of how careful we are, all businesses do make mistakes that may result in an unhappy customer. We are human. When all of your efforts still leave a customer unsatisfied, remove the root of the issue before it could potentially become a real problem with other clients. It’s vital to deal with unhappy customers, and work to resolve any issues. If you receive a scathing comment on social media or a bad review elsewhere online, address it directly. Efficiently resolving customers’ concerns or issues reflects well on your business!

Take swift action. The longer you leave an issue unresolved, the more likely a client will become even more dissatisfied or even angry – which could result in additional bad reviews or even the spread of potentially disastrous comments by social media or word-of-mouth. Address it immediately, and chances are a customer will purchase from you again.

Create an online presence to boost your reputation and trust. Every company should have a Google+, Facebook, and Twitter account, and you should be active on these and other social media sites. Videos shared through YouTube or your own website can be helpful as well. Once you have accounts set up, give them the attention necessary to increase engagement with potential customers, increase your company’s influence, and interact with clients. Continually developing your social media efforts can often result in those accounts outranking any negative comments or reviews posted online about your company.

Avoid online arguments. Airing your disagreements online is absolutely the WRONG way to resolve any issues, and could ultimately damage your reputation by casting an unprofessional light on your company. Communicate with those you’re having problems with via email or telephone. When you do interact with those who make negative comments or write unfavorable reviews about your company online, be nicer and more professional than you even think is necessary. Demonstrating that you handle problems in a courteous, professional manner will make your company much more attractive to potential customers than being “right.”

As a small business owner, the most important thing for you to realize is that managing your reputation is not something you can “opt out” of. You must proactively manage your reputation, and always be aware of what is being said or written about your company so that you can handle it immediately.

 

Phil SingletonAbout the Author: Phil Singleton is the owner of Kansas City SEO, a full-service internet marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other online marketing services, and Kansas City Web Design, a WordPress web development firm specializing in custom SEO-friendly websites and custom web applications. Phil is also a Duct Tape Marketing™ Certified Consultant at The Kansas City Marketing Agency.