Our digital reputation has never been more important than it is today. Even when in a physical store, 82% of people that own a smartphone use it to research and check reviews. When they’re making a digital purchase, you can assume that every single one of your customers is going to at least Google your company to see what they can find.
The fact is that your Google search results are going to define you as a company, whether they’re accurate or not. If people post online reviews, mention you in their blog, or post on your Facebook page, that content is out there for the world to see. In order to control your branding, learning to manage your digital reputation is critical. Here are four things you need to keep in mind:
1. Respond to Negative Feedback Appropriately
Handling negative online feedback is like walking a tightrope. If you’re too aggressive in your own defense, you’ll only vindicate the review. If you ignore it completely, however, you allow other people to control your narrative. Your best bet is to respond sincerely. Acknowledge any fault that might be yours, apologize, and offer to resolve it. Everybody makes mistakes. If other people see that you handle yours with grace, you’ll turn a negative into a positive.
If any negative reviews are egregiously false or meant to destroy your reputation, that’s a whole different situation. Provide an appropriate response publicly and take whatever action is necessary to get it removed if possible. This includes contacting the website the review is posted on or considering legal action if it is inflammatory enough.
2. Encourage Positive Feedback
No business is perfect. You won’t be able to prevent negative feedback entirely. What you can do is encourage your happy customers to provide positive feedback to help drown out the negative. Train your sales and customer service teams to suggest leaving a positive review to any customers that receive exceptional service. Send follow-ups encouraging public feedback as part of your automated customer journey emails. Simply asking is often enough to encourage positive reviews from customers who would never otherwise consider writing one.
3. Work to Prevent Negative Feedback
Focusing on customer service is important if you want to prevent negative feedback. Often times, people write negative reviews because they feel the need to be heard. When somebody contacts you directly in the first place, providing friendly and effective support to resolve their issue will usually be enough to nip it in the bud.
Additionally, you need to take negative feedback seriously. If somebody cares enough about a problem they had with your company to spend time writing a review, they very well may have a valid complaint. Instead of getting defensive, use it as a learning point and a chance to improve. By working to not make the same mistake twice, you’ll drastically improve the customer experience and give people fewer reasons to write a negative review.
4. Control the First Two Pages
Most people aren’t going to navigate beyond the first two pages of search results. Your final plan of attack should, therefore, be aggressively controlling the first two pages of results. Make sure that the first several results are your own pages and content. Beyond that, work to earn high-quality mentions on other prominent websites. Guest posts are a great way to do this. If you’re able to fill up the first couple of pages with positive content, controlling the inevitable negative content will be much easier.
For more insights into managing your reputation, take a look at how to use content curation to improve your SEO results by clicking here.