The way that your business acts online could be killing its reputation. Your promises to consumers in advertising, interaction with other brands and reaction to attacks by the competition can hurt the way society views your brand. It is important to approach every situation carefully to ensure that it is being handled appropriately. You can fix a bruised reputation rather quickly by taking the right action.
Ignoring Consumer Queries
Ignoring consumer queries is one of the best ways to ruin your brand’s online reputation. Yes, some consumers are lazy and can easily visit a brand website for an answer, but that is not how society works anymore. They want answers supplied to them – and quickly. One single negative online post about a consumer’s question not being answered can trigger an avalanche of negative publicity that negatively affects sales and tarnishes reputations.
Remedy: Create a position within your company that specifically interacts with online queries and consumer relations online. This person will be responsible for representing the brand in a positive way and being attentive to consumer queries across multiple channels.
Watch Who’s Talking about you
Keep an eye on your brand mentions. It is very careless to allow companies and consumers to mention your brand and not pay attention to what is being said. When you do nothing while consumers and competitors bash your company it shows consumers that your brand just wants to make money and doesn’t care what society thinks of it. This is a bad way to do business as your brand immediately loses credibility.
Remedy: Put someone in charge of monitoring brand mentions. Respond to those that deem a response and privately contact those with major issues to resolve them.
Handle Defamation with Care
When the issue of defamation arises, by either a consumer group or competitor, it needs to be handled with care. The best way to damage your brand’s online reputation is to start firing back online. It immediately discredits your brand, although you are standing up for your brand, it is distasteful and displays the brand as hostile.
There is a process to take care of defamation, including filing a court case in the most serious of events. You will need to get Google involved to request removal of the damaging content or website. Action needs to be taken immediately as every minute the defaming information is available, it is hurting your brand’s reputation.
Avoid bashing your competition. If they have flaws, they will show themselves in due time. If a brand starts a product perfection war with yours, simply promote your own product and forget tearing the competition’s product apart. At the same time, if your brand is not active online with content, marketing, and social media interaction – it leaves the door wide open for competitors to swing in and capitalize on your lack of presence.
Remedy: Contact the president of the brand and schedule a meeting to discuss the issue. Remain calm and do not let tensions flare. Simply remind the competition that your brand is not bashing theirs and that it is bad business to trash your own industry.
Arguing with Consumers
When an unsatisfied or angry consumer makes negative commentary about your brand, inquire – don’t fuel the fire. Consumers need to be able to leave their opinions and reviews. Consumers also look at the context of online reviews, so some negative reviews are actually helpful because it shows a brand where it may be lacking and requires improvement.
Remedy: Respond to negative reviews promptly and ask the consumer to post a follow-up review following situation resolution. It is said that 97-percent of consumers find online reviews helpful, so it is important to ask for those follow-up corrective reviews.
Inability to Backup Performance Statistics
If your brand promises results, income or performance it cannot deliver on that is just asking for your reputation to be put through the wringer. Misleading consumers and other brands is like buying a one-way ticket to bankruptcy court as there will be an influx of requests for refunds and perhaps lawsuits could be filed.
Remedy: Provide real statistics and never over-promise. If you are using results as examples, always include a disclaimer that “results may vary”.
Managing a brand’s online reputation is a job in itself, but it does not need to be considered a “damage control” type of position. It is a method of protecting what a brand founder worked hard to get off of the ground, and should be done so appropriately. Attacking negativity instead of professionally embracing it is big trouble. Always remain professional, calm and attentive to what is being said about your brand.