Imagine if there were a handful of things you could do right now to seriously mitigate the chances of your company falling victim to an online reputation management nightmare? Imagine if proactively putting in place a couple of systems would help you hear your customers in a way that is productive to the company, instead of potentially damaging?
Well, there are. And you can.
Below are 15 things you can do today to help prevent an online reputation disaster in the future.
- Build your reputation by dominating your Google 10. Blog, make videos, sponsor events, create a company Tumblr account, start a podcast, etc. This will help you control what’s ranking for your brand name and keep negative mentions lower on the Google totem pole.
- Let customers know how you prefer to be contacted. If they’re experiencing issues or concerns, should they reach out to you on Twitter, on Facebook, use your contact form, call you, etc.? Let them know the best way to resolve their issue so that they can use your company-approved method to get a response instead of ranting on Twitter or dissing you on Yelp.
- Add a complaint area on your website to help give customers guidance on how to get in touch with your company and keep them on the site.
- Follow up with customers immediately after the sale to collect feedback and tackle any issues head on.
- Find ways to constantly collect feedback – by holding focus groups, talking to customers at the register, calling loyal customers, etc. Once customers hand you this valuable feedback, use it and implement what they’re asking for.
- Be awesome at customer service.
- Be accessible and develop an active social media and online presence. I’m far more likely to angry-tweet about a company I don’t think is listening than someone who is active in the conversation.
- Use tools like Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Hootsuite and Trackur to help you monitor what’s being said about your brand.
- If you stumble across a negative mention of your company, become part of that conversation. Let that customer (and everyone watching) know that you want to make things right and offer a plan for how to move forward from this experience.
- Respond to negative reviews using humility and grace. Listen to what the negative comments really said and address concerns in a straightforward manner. Never get defensive.
- Avoid making the situation worse (see this Washington Post article for an example).
- Don’t write fake reviews or create fake accounts to tweet/post nice things about your brand. Your customers will always find out–and it won’t be pretty when they do.
- Proactively use Facebook and Twitter to build brand evangelists you can count on to defend you when sticky situations arise. It’s always better to have someone come to your rescue than for you to be the lone voice speaking on behalf of your brand.
- Repeat tip #13 for blog communities, professional sites, local-specific communities and special-interest sites.
- Develop a crisis plan so that if or when something does go wrong, you have a plan for how you’ll react. You don’t want to be scrambling while emotions are high. Know what steps you’ll take and who’ll do what before a problem arises.
It may look like a lot to do, but you’ll notice that everything on the list is really interconnected. That means doing one thing makes it that much easier for the rest to flow naturally. And really, isn’t your brand worth it?