5 Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation

There will always be customers who can be very demanding and sometimes become borderline unreasonable. The problem actually starts when their expectations are not met and are unhappy about your product or service. They tend to vent their frustrations and grievances in various social networking sites. Negative news spreads fast and before you know it, that one bad customer experience spreads and becomes a trending topic, leaving a bad taste for your business. Customers will begin to second guess your business. You have no choice but to clean up. Here are tips on how to manage your online reputation:

1. Find the Root Cause
Get to the bottom of where the complaints emanated. Bad customer experience may be caused by poor customer service, low quality products, or price misunderstanding. Find out where the issue is coming from to keep it from happening again. Turn it into something positive and use it to improve your business.

Dell got flak in the past due to its poor online customer service, tagging it as “Dell Hell.” The company then sought ways to address these complaints. It got in touch with people with negative experiences and opened a company blog to discuss these issues.

2. Be Professional and Apologize
If you are thinking of giving a public explanation or apology, think about it first. It is easier said than done and it would help to not let emotions get the better of you. Your statement should explain your side of the story and assure the customer that your company is doing what it can to improve the service or product. Never sound as if you are lashing out or insulting your already disgruntled customers. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, once wrote an apology letter for their unsatisfactory maps app.

3. Renew Customer Relationship
Relationships of any kind have their ups and downs. Customers may be unhappy for a time but you always have a chance to turn things around. Make up for bad experiences with your company by finding out what made customers unhappy. They may ask for the moon and the stars but it won’t hurt to try and give it to them in the form of free vouchers, promotions, or complimentary service. In the end, say thank you to customers. They might just give you another chance.

4. Avoid Deleting Comments
It’s tempting to strike out complaints, but by doing so, you may aggravate the problem. Deleting comments may give customers the impression that you are not listening or avoiding your responsibility. Don’t pretend like the issue does not exist. Other readers may already know about it, either from your site or somewhere else.

5. Address the Issue
One reality you have to accept is that hecklers will always be there to say negative things about your business. You do not have to react to such comments because they might just be there to provoke you. So investigate if the grievances have basis and address the real issues.

You have the option to simply ignore them. In this aspect, the public’s short attention span is your best ally. It will only linger if you fuel the issue. Simply apologize and don’t engage in a mudslinging contest. Soon, these hecklers will channel their attention to others.

Instead of dwelling on the issue, you may also create good news to re-channel the public’s attention. The movie Social Network portrayed Mark Zuckerberg in a negative light. When the movie was released, he donated $100 million to public education. The move was pricey but succeeded in its overall strategy.