I recently received a call from a client regarding a single complaint about his company posted on a review site by an unhappy client. Although he tried desperately to resolve the matter prior to post, that single online rant turned into a multitude of financial, relational and emotional issues. Another client shared that a lawsuit they were involved in (and won by the way) ended up online and cost them well into 6 figures in terms of lost immediate revenue and long-term value of lost customers. Whether a review site, blog post or comment, a single online complaint can affect a business from simple hiccup to bankruptcy.
The biggest challenge with damaging reviews or degrading content bits online is once they’re up, they’re up, and getting them down can be tedious, emotionally taxing, and expensive.
Here are 4 key things to consider:
1. For starters conduct a search of you and your business and go deep in the page count to see what’s there to get a baseline of your personal and corporate online brand. A simple search can reveal a sigh of relief or a ton of grief to be dealt with. Set a quarterly reminder to do a quick check up on both.
2. Own the truth that providing status quo service to prospects and customers is dead, not to mention dangerous; meaning you’re gambling with a potential bad review. The optimal way to safeguard yourself against potential data threats is to make exemplary end-to-end service a standard practice. Don’t just do the job you promised, go beyond what is expected and build in a couple of nice surprises along the way. This way when you need posts that speak of your excellence, they’ll be a request away.
3. When you have a conflict on a relationship or a project, don’t wait to bring it to a resolve, handle it immediately and bring it to an amiable finish. People typically post in the heat of a moment and sometimes regret the hostility of the post, but by that time it’s too late. BTW, hoping a dissatisfied client will “go away” is not a good strategy, especially considering the opportunity to harm your reputation is ever-present.
4. Have a plan in place if (more like when) a complaint gets posted. There are multiple services available to help you deal with the issue. But don’t wait, put it out like the fire that it is before it spreads and does more harm.
As mentioned, the best course of action is always preventative. How you service your customers, handle complaints and deliver on your commitments is the foundation of your reputation online and off, and the only way to predictably minimize chances of potential brand damage.