Obstacles to a Great Online Reputation.


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While preparing for my upcoming workshop for the 2011 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, I continued to run across a common reluctance amongst businesses to change their focus from a defensive position to an offensive position when dealing with their online reputation.

Here are some of the things I ran across as to why owners hesitate to ask customers for reviews of their services:

  • Asking their customers to post a review will INCREASE negative reviews.
  • Employees will feel uncomfortable asking for a review.
  • What if a negative review gets published?
  • If I start posting too many reviews, my competition will sabotage me and post false reviews

This type of attitude towards customer feedback will ultimately lose businesses market share. This past October, Google changed search to prominently display customer reviews for local businesses that come up in search. Businesses with few and/or poor reviews will now stand out and ultimately will lose business to companies who have embraced their online reputation.

My response to the above reasons for not having an online reputation strategy:

  • Business owners cannot look at the glass as half empty. There WILL be negative reviews posted. No matter how good your customer service is, some people will never be satisfied. BUT think of all the positive reviews you will have that will overwhelm the negative reviews.
  • Everyone resists change at first. You must sell your employees on the new process, encourage the new behavior and make sure they hear any positive results. When someone comes in to ask for a specific salesperson based on reading a review, make sure all employees hear about it. Once they see top management buys into the new process, so will they.
  • Negative reviews happen. I strongly believe that people trust a company that has a few negative reviews (not brutal, mind you but negative). What customers want to see is how you address the problem. Customers want to see that IF they were to have a problem that you would be there to help them. Make sure you respond to the negative reviews.
  • Success breeds detractors. Owners should expect competing businesses with low ethical standards to post false reviews under the guise of a consumer.

Knowing attacks and negative reviews can happen at any time, it is more productive to focus on delivering an outstanding customer experience, which facilitates positive reviews to be posted online.

Owners need to honestly assess the people and processes that exist in their company today, which represent your customer service legacy.

Since no process is perfect, the best strategy is to focus on excellence. At the same time develop a process for handling a negative review.

What you do on-site directly affects what is written about you online so embrace feedback, use it to improve your customer service and let your customers be your best brand advocates.

Let me know your thoughts.

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