No matter how excellent your product is or how exceptional your services are, a business with a bad reputation will never succeed. Business reputation is everything in today’s ever-connected world.

If you’ve managed to build a good reputation, don’t become complacent. A single customer complaint can make or break you. But that doesn’t mean you should strive hard to avoid receiving complaints. In fact, you will receive complaints. You should expect them. How you handle them is what’s important.

In this article, we are going to discuss the best practices in reputation management for businesses. Most of these covers how to handle your customers and their complaints. Following them will ensure that your business maintains a good reputation that will help you survive in this competitive and customer-centric world.

Create and Maintain a Blog

Search engine optimized blog posts are what you’ll use to drive away negative reviews from the first pages of search engines. A blog will allow you to:

  •     Build authority. By having a blog filled with high-quality content relevant to your business, you will be able to show that you are knowledgeable in your field. And people trust knowledgeable ones.
  •     Drive away negative reviews from search results. Search engine optimized content will always appear on top of the search results, burying negative reviews away. It also increases your traffic.
  •     Respond to negative reviews and issues. Posting an update on an issue or responding to negative reviews is best done by creating a blog post that addresses them.
  •     Develop a relationship with your existing and potential customers.  A blog is a great way to connect with your target audience. They can comment on your posts and you can respond to their comments, fostering a small community.

As you can see, incorporating a blog with strategic content into your website is a great idea. They help establish and solidify your company’s online reputation.

You’ll need to have a regular posting schedule for your blog to make it successful. If you’re busy or if you have a large company, it’s better to look for someone who can write search engine optimized and high-quality blog posts for your business on a regular basis.

Build a Social Media Presence

Having social media accounts is a crucial part of strengthening your online presence and building and managing your reputation.

There are many kinds of social media sites out there but you don’t have to create an account in every single one of them. Generally, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the bare minimum you should have. For B2B companies, having a LinkedIn account is also imperative. Only create additional accounts in sites that are closely related to your business and those you think are frequented by your target audience. Examples would be an additional Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr accounts for companies offering media-oriented products and services like a camera company or a graphic design studio.

YouTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo are good for most companies in any industry. They’re pretty good if you want to showcase your latest products and services or your recent successful projects. However, developing and creating videos can be resource intensive if done on a regular basis, unless it’s what your company does. Also, nothing beats a sincere, emotional, or thought-provoking apology video or response video, in case you need to create one.

Maintain and Monitor Your Social Media Presence

Don’t just create social media accounts and only post when you feel like it or when you have a new offer or new upcoming sale.

“Their twitter account and their Facebook page are dead.”

When you hear people say that, what do you think will happen? You will start losing customers. They want companies that engage with them, companies that keep them updated. If your social media accounts lie dormant for extended periods, they might think that your business has become inactive. You don’t want that.

To maintain your social media presence, you must create social media posts on a regular basis. Interact with the community regularly. Answer PMs to your social media accounts, respond to comments, create quizzes and polls, retweet relevant tweets, share relevant Facebook posts, etc. You can also post links to the latest articles on your website to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media accounts you may have.

In addition to that, you must monitor your social media presence. Check what people are saying about your business. Monitor the latest comments on your social media posts and see what kind of stuff people are sharing about your business. In case of comments on your posts, always respond, which we’ll discuss next.

Always Respond to All Comments

No matter whether it’s a positive or a negative comment, respond. Responding to comments, especially the negative ones, shows that you care about your customers and your business. No one likes getting ignored especially if they have a concern or complaint.

Keep in mind that you should always handle negative comments in a professional and neutral manner. If possible, try to bring the concern offline as quickly as possible. An example response could be:

“We’re very sorry to hear that you’ve been experiencing intermittent loss of internet connection lately. We deeply care about our customers and we want you to experience only the most reliable internet connection. Please send us a PM so that we can address your issue as soon as possible. You can also send us an email at questions@yourcompany.com or give us a call at xxx-xxxx and we’ll be very glad to assist you in resolving this problem.”

Stay Calm and Stay Polite

Sometimes, you can get customers that will fight to the very end to defend what they think is right. Even if you are technically right, you might come out wrong if you lose your temper. Your image can become unprofessional and harsh and people will talk about it.

“He could’ve explained it in a better way.”

“He didn’t have to do that.”

“He didn’t have to go overboard.”

Those are just some of the comments you might read or hear when you lose your temper during an argument with a customer. It spreads like wildfire online.

When you lose your composure, you’ll eventually lose yourself. Always stay calm and always respond or talk to a customer in a polite and calm manner.

Even though you might lose in an online argument, if you know that you are technically right, you will have the support of your loyal customers which can even help you gain new ones.

But it will be hard to stay calm. Once you’re starting to feel that you’re going to lose it, stand up. Go out and walk away from your computer and calm yourself down. Once you’re back in a pristine state of mind, go ahead and try to reconcile with your angry customer again and try to take it offline. Try to get them to talk about the issue via phone or email instead of arguing over the internet.

Don’t Be Afraid to Apologize

No one is perfect. If you think you or your company messed up, always issue a sincere apology. And don’t wait. As soon as you realize that you or your company did something wrong unintentionally, immediately create an apology and post it on your website and on your social media accounts. People will be happy to receive an apology than nothing at all and its natural to lose some customers, what matters is that your loyal customers will always stay if they see their favorite company acknowledging a mistake.

The problem is that some apologies are insincere. Don’t issue a half-baked apology. Accept that you made a mistake, address it, and assure your customers that you’ll be doing everything you can to prevent it from happening again.

Monitor Your Online Presence

One of the best ways to do this is by setting up a Google Alert for your business or company name. This will allow you to receive notifications every time they are mentioned on the web. This way, you’ll be able to immediately respond to any feedback, both positive and negative, in a timely manner.

Aside from setting up an alert for just your business or company name, setting up alerts for your name or for the names of other influential figures in your business or company is also a good idea.

Hear Your Customers

You might think that most complaints or negative reviews are just people who genuinely dislike your products or services or just they don’t know better, but you might be wrong. Always listen to their complaints and analyze what went wrong.

Why did they complain about? Certainly, you’ve been doing your best in delivering the best products and services, but people will still complain. Some are just trolls, others didn’t understand something, but others are genuine complaints. Maybe you need to change how you deliver your products or how you process orders. Or maybe the fees are a bit high. Perhaps you lack something or you’re not doing something the right way.

Read feedbacks. Analyze them. You might be surprised to discover that you’ve overlooked something.

Final Thoughts

Reputation management is all about creating a positive image. The bottom line is that you must understand and care for your target audience. If you truly desire to bring them the products or services they need or want, then you will focus on them and hear them out; try to give them what they deserve.

After all, the customer is always right. What are you without them?