Much has been made about how to manage your brand’s online reputation in the midst of a social media meltdown or a review site shakeup.
But what about avoiding the reputational crisis completely?
Not that you want a squeaky clean online reputation—it will come off as fake.
But, you can take steps to prevent the kind of PR crisis that could affect your bottom line.
Here are a few key steps business owners should take to build a proactive online reputation management strategy.
Provide Top-Level Customer Service
Don’t worry; the online reputation management tips get less obvious as we go but few are as important as this: provide the best customer service at all times.
If your business is brick-and-mortar, this means an exceptional experience within the store.
For both brick-and-mortar and online businesses, this means a personalized, targeted, and valuable experience.
You won’t succeed all the time, and you don’t have to.
If you do it well enough, often enough, and leverage customer service wins by sharing positive feedback on social media and asking for reviews from your best customers, when the rare negative review does occur, you will have plenty of online greatness to drown it out.
Build Employee Ownership of Your Reputation
As a White Label SEO company, every Friday we have a town hall with more than 100 employees in attendance.
During this town hall, we share positive customer feedback, and we acknowledge each employee involved in the success.
We don’t share negative feedback companywide, but managers are encouraged to bring opportunities out in the open rather than sweep them under the rug.
In this way, the underlying cause can be addressed.
Creating an intimate setting where the entire company is made aware of customer perception helps employees become emotionally invested in how we are perceived.
Not every organization can have company-wide town halls for online reputation management.
In those cases, a great alternative is the many enterprise social networking apps available such as Slack or Salesforce Chatter.
Email blasts can also work but are less effective because it’s less personal.
However you choose to communicate the status of your company’s online reputation, the important part is that you enable your employees to feel invested in it and encourage their influence.
Get Customer Feedback and Use it
Many businesses struggle to find a way to solicit feedback from their customers.
The reasons vary from being afraid of what they might find out to simply not knowing how to do it.
Personally, I ignore pop-up surveys or anything I find invasive.
However, a personalized email thanking me for my business, and one tailored to my experience, is a sure way to get me to respond.
I think many people feel the same way.
They want the post-sale experience to be much like the experience during the sale: personalized.
Otherwise, it feels robotic, and your customer is unlikely to believe their feedback will result in anything tangible.
There are several methods you can employ to get feedback.
These are a few we use:
- Webinar post-feedback prompt
- On-page survey forms
- In-app requests via customer messaging platform
- Project managers asking directly
- Willingness to participate in beta testing
- Regular update opt-ins
Of all these methods, my favorite is when our project managers reach out to our customers directly.
This is the primary source of the customer feedback shared in our town halls.
Because we recognize that customer feedback is a valuable asset for attracting and converting leads, our marketing team uses it to promote our brand’s reputation online.
Monitor Your Brand Online
Speaking of a brand’s online reputation, monitoring your company’s name is critical.
There are really, really easy ways to do this that are effective.
And there are really, really effective ways to do this that are easy… but not free.
The first and most obvious is Google Alerts.
This is the bare minimum of monitoring your brand’s online reputation.
And it’s a good start, but Google Alerts is inadequate when it comes to social media monitoring.
To truly monitor social media, consider Mention, a paid app that is worth every penny spent.
Monitoring your brand is being proactive.
But don’t monitor your brand like some kind of safari hunter searching for an online complaint to kill.
You are monitoring your brand to stay informed about what you are doing right and where you can improve.
You are monitoring your brand because you want to shape your company’s future in a way that serves your customers.
This distinction is important because monitoring your brand’s online reputation with the tiniest bit of a defensive attitude is the wrong approach.
Manage Customer Perception
Are you a company that cares about the environment?
Do you foster a startup atmosphere despite having been in business for a while?
Maybe your business values its creative side as much as its tech side.
The great thing about the internet is you can shape customer perception.
But there are two important aspects which determine whether you successfully portray the desired image of your brand: sincerity and consistency.
Your competitors and your customers are watching you, and they’re listening.
Align your message with your goals and communicate it effectively.
The downside is that by failing to manage the perception of your business properly, you are building an image of a company that doesn’t care.
Neglected social media and unclaimed listings are a sign that either a business doesn’t know how to manage its reputation or doesn’t care to.
You don’t want to be either of these.
Proactive Online Reputation Management for the Win!
The importance of proactive online reputation management is hard to understate.
And it is the key to being prepared when a reputational crisis occurs.
Providing exceptional customer service and building a positive reputation are your greatest line of defense and your most valuable assets.
How do you manage your online reputation? Please share in the comments below.
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