August 13, 2013

4 Ways to Handle Clients Ripping Your Rep on the Web

Do you have a plan in place for handling your online reputation when an unhappy client vents on the Web?

Hell hath no fury like an unhappy customer. For anyone who has worked in a customer service position, we know this to be true.  Still, no matter how carefully or strategically you run your business, it will happen. Someone will write a negative online review about you.

Part of owning and operating a business is realizing that you cannot please everyone at all times. There will always be that discontented customer with unrealistic expectations. Perhaps they’re an unpleasant person. Perhaps they just had a bad day. Regardless, today’s Internet age empowers anyone to become a critic using one of the many online review sites like Yelp, Google Places, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, MerchantCircle and more.

We’ve all heard that reputation is everything, and that doesn’t discount what’s written online. According to a local consumer review study conducted last year, approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews made them more likely to use a local business.

Say someone writes a less-than-stellar review about your business online. Do you have a plan in place for handling your online reputation? Here’s what you can do to minimize the effects when someone posts a negative review online about you or your company.

1. Keep calm and respond carefully.

Yes, you work hard and are passionate about your business, but don’t let your emotions get the best of you in this situation. Remember that what’s written on the Internet is usually permanent. Many review sites have strict rules about not deleting or moderating reviews without good cause. Potential customers are online, watching for your business’s interaction with other customers and by lashing back or ignoring a rant you could make the situation even worse.

Simply ignoring a poor review could allow word to spread to other potential customers reading about you on the Web. A negative comment left ignored can perpetuate additional negative comments. By addressing the comment or review head on, you can identify the issue and often transform it into a positive review by showing the customer you take their complaints seriously. Before responding, take time to construct a well thought-out and polite response addressing the concern.

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2. Learn from the experience.

Take this bad review as constructive criticism and learn from your customers’ comments. Remember that the customer believes he or she is right; and as much as you may not like to admit it, some of them may have valid points. Even if this is not the case, you should always strive to improve a customer’s experience with your product or service. Tell the customer how you are going to address his complaint and what the next steps will be. Take this as an opportunity to gain valuable insights and tips from your community.

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3. Say thank you.

Yes, this is probably the very opposite of what you feel like doing but you’ve got to suck it up. This customer took the time to post their feedback, and showing your appreciation for their comments can help you regain that trust and respect. Take every complaint on a case-by-case basis, but offering some sort of retribution such as a discount off the next service can help soothe hard feelings and encourage further business. Just make certain your next interaction goes flawlessly, which leads me to my next point …

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4. Next time, be ready.

Learn from this experience and make sure it doesn’t happen again! Scour the internet (social media, forums and online review sites) and listen to what your customers are saying about you. By proactively monitoring your online reputation, you’re positioned to engage with and respond to the user before any initial issues develop further that could damage your reputation. Not all bad reviews have to be damaging, just make sure for every one bad review, there are at least three shining reviews.

Remember that negative reviews are bound to happen no matter how good your product or service is. There could be a million reasons behind a negative review. What is going to set you apart from your competitors is having a solid strategy in place to deal with online complaints without sacrificing professionalism.

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Check out New Website Lists Consumer Reviews of Financial Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.

For more from Lauren Jaeckel, see:

Originally published on LifeHealthPro. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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