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Online Reputation Repair

Going into business was a lot simpler 20 years ago: you put a listing in the Yellow Pages, maybe purchased some ad space in the paper or on TV, and went about your day. The only feedback you had to worry about was word of mouth between customers. These days, the internet (and social media especially,) have created a veritable mine field of potential missteps where your business’ reputation is concerned. In a perfect world, all online reviews and social posts would be truthful – if a customer had a good experience, they would share it and whatever platform they used to do so would show the positive words. If a customer had a negative experience, you would see it and be able to honestly assess a problem with your business and go about fixing it and making amends.
 
This is not a perfect world. These things do not always happen. Rather, internet review sites such as Yelp try to filter out what they think are “unhelpful” reviews, meaning positive customer reviews can get discredited for no real reason, lowering your business’ rating considerably, and people who have possibly never even interacted with your company can slam you aggressively over Twitter or Facebook with no repercussions. You’ve got to be lightning fast and constantly strategizing in order to stay on your feet. We’d like to share some of our top tips for coming out the victor in the online battle that is reputation control.
 
Acknowledge and apologize. Put down your pride and make a sincere apology in response to whatever issue, perceived or real, is being brought to light by a negative reviewer. Acknowledging a person’s right to be unhappy with your services is the first step to fixing the problem.
 
Never fight fire with fire. No matter how belligerent a review or comment on social media aimed at you may be, it is never a good idea to get defensive or worse, lob insults right back. Negative responses come across as extremely unprofessional, and make it seem like your company has something to hide. The best course of action is to respond politely and gently explain your company’s side of the issue.  If applicable, try to resolve the situation by offering additional work or services at no charge to correct mistakes.
 
Create an action plan. If there is a legitimate pain point that is being reviewed or commented on, we shouldn’t need to tell you that it’s a good idea to fix it. If people are griping constantly about poor customer service, as a business owner, you should spend some time re-training your employees on company policy. If it’s a specific product or service, reconsider its place in your business.
 
Send out a flood of positive. Positive social posts, content, and news, that is. Keep updating your website with great new content and keep your SEO fresh so that you can climb the Google rankings above any stale, negative slams. Although it’s a good idea to reach out to loyal customers for help in leaving some positive reviews, avoiding flooding review sites with too many 5-star ratings all at once. As mentioned, unfortunately sites like Yelp could discredit them, leaving you in a potentially worse situation.
 
As with all ventures in life, the most pertinent advice we can give is simply to keep your head up. Try not to take online attacks personally – rather, try and find some value in them as fuel to grow your business further. Handling a slam with grace and professionalism can sometimes gain the public’s respect more than if there had never been an issue. No one ever said that running a business would be easy, but with a little strategy you can take those negative review lemons and make some great lemonade.

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