How to Deal With A Bad Company Reputation
Your company’s reputation is invaluable for many reasons. It helps new clients trust what your company says it will do, it lessens the risk of choosing to do business with you, and it helps you stand apart from less-than-stellar competition.
And while the idea of “reputation” is a timeless concept that essentially encompasses all of what people outside of your organization say about you – today, reputations are pretty much won and lost online.
With dozens of social media channels and numerous review sites (like our candidate-facing site, kununu), a business can suffer from negative publicity in a matter of minutes with as little effort as a disgruntled customer or employee’s tap of a smartphone. Unflattering reviews and negative posts can end up doing serious and costly damage to a reputation, fast.
If you are dealing with these issues and are worried that your company’s online reputation is not as outstanding as you’d like it to be, there are specific actions you can take to minimize the long-term damage.
Here are the “Five A’s” to handle your company suffering from a mediocre online reputation.
Analyze the Situation
If you find testimonials, comments, or posts online about your company that are not glowing recommendations, look further into the information and what the person sharing it claims. Are they griping about bad customer service? Shoddy products? Lack of availability? While some claims may be bogus, it pays for companies to listen to all feedback with an open mind and examine whether or not the claim is valid.
If there is truth to the claim….
Address the Issue
Feedback, even if it’s negative, is an important tool businesses can use to evolve into a stronger company. If time service is an issue, managers may decide to offer further training, hire more people, or create tighter control standards. More than one complaint about an issue should serve as serious red flags to rectify that particular situation. After all, if a few customers are talking about it online, they are undoubtedly more that hold the same opinion, whether they voice it or not.
One thing to NOT do is, well, nothing. Be sure to…
Avoid Silent Responses
We know conflict is uncomfortable, but how else can you neutralize the situation? Respond to every negative comment with an apology and the steps that are being taken to make sure the negative experience doesn’t happen again. Invite the poster to contact your company for further information. Simply being acknowledged stamps out a consumer’s fury over a bad experience. Taking actionable measure to communicate professionally with the person or people who have shared the negative information will often minimize any further damage.
In addition to dealing with unflattering information shared about your company, there are two steps that empower you to be proactive.
Ask for Input
It’s perfectly acceptable to request feedback from happy clients. Encourage them to share their positive interactions with your company online. Positive reviews and social media posts can repair lots of the damage caused by negative comments, and also offer a more well-rounded viewpoint of your company. Consistently asking clients to share good stories will help you create a positive brand image and good reputation.
Author Your Own Press
Create your company’s hype. Distribute press releases about the positive aspects of your company like charity work, scholarships, or fund raising. Blog about new products, systems, customer service, and share all of this across your social media channels. This way, if a person is checking your company out online, they will have access to more information than what a few disgruntled customers shared that may or may not be accurate.
A tarnished online reputation can bring on costly consequences if it isn’t handled properly and quickly. Giving conscientious consideration to any negative comments, taking steps to right the situation, and communicating openly will go a long way toward improving and protecting your company’s online presence.