Protecting Your Online Reputation

By:  |  Category: Blog, Security Wednesday, October 10th, 2018  |  No Comments
Online Reputation

In the days of old, maintaining a good reputation boiled down to good service. Do a job well and people will refer their friends and colleagues. Today, not so much.  Social media and the internet have added an extra layer of complexity.

Does your brand hold weight in the digital world? Do your reviews reflect your service? What if a competitor or one disgruntled customer targets your business and tries to ruin your reputation? This new world brings a lack of control over certain realms.

This doesn’t mean you have to play the victim to false accusations, bad reviews or wrongful attacks. What you can do is to manage your companies reputation to the best of your ability when things get out of whack despite your best intentions.

Cyberbullies

If a business doesn’t treat their customers well or is discovered to have bad business practices, then a bad reputation is well earned. For example Equifax suffered a breach in May 2017, discovered the incident in July but did not inform customers until September. While Equifax has tried to sort out their mess, it will take time for consumers to trust them again.

What if, like Equifax, your business get’s hit by an unexpected outside force? Hopefully, unlike Equifax your business would be upfront with your customers.

“Online businesses face the same problems as other businesses — but are especially vulnerable to hacks, site crashes or outages and reputation dings from quality or service issues,” said Fusion PR President Bob Geller.

Those problems are all a normal part of doing business, and often the resulting complaints can be rectified with prompt, consistent and considerate attention. However, other problems lurk on the dark side, ranging from trolls and fake reviews to online flame wars.

“Horror stories include fake reviews by competitors, or unhappy previous employees,” observed Kevin Clark, director of business development and customer reputation management at Synup.

“Most review sites have filtering capabilities to remove fake or malicious reviews but sometimes a bad one can sneak through,” he noted.

Sometimes, the online harassment is stronger than a few filters can handle, and the damage to your reputation can become an issue.

We worked with a client who battled an online bully leaving fake and malicious reviews. The business was forced to take them to court but the damage was hard to undue.

If you think your company is immune to this, think again.

“In an age of cyberbullying, revenge porn, hate sites and inadequate online privacy laws, a reputation management issue can happen to anyone,” remarked BrandYourself COO Nathan Evans.

Tell the Truth

If your business suffers a data breach and your customers info is compromised, be transparent and quick to act and make restitution. Offer identity protection, a gift card, a free service, anything to go the extra mile and help the negative reviewer move past the incident.

Don’t try to silence customer’s either. If there is a negative review, respond to it and try to find a solution. Many people will retract a bad review if you engage with them and try to hear their complaint. If there is nothing you can do, don’t erase it. Most people expect one or two bad reviews and can look over it if there are enough positive experiences.

“As tempting as it may be, avoid deleting negative reviews — unless they are completely dishonest,” advised Robert Ellis, CEO of Massage Tables Now.

“This shows that you have nothing to hide,” he said. “The more transparent you are, the more likely prospective customers will trust you.”

The Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016, a federal law, provides protection for U.S. consumers who post negative reviews online. Including provisions in form agreements that ban or impose penalties on consumers who post negative comments or reviews is expressly prohibited.

Companies also cannot make individuals assign ownership of the intellectual property rights in such negative comments or reviews to them, according to a Cooley and Cooley law firm post.

Treat People Well

If you consistently treat people well, then a few bad apples won’t take you out.

Four-star ratings drive the most trust, said 41.8 percent of the participants in a Chatmeter poll of 1,000 consumers on the impact of online reviews on brand reputation and loyalty.

So don’t stress over that fifth star. Do respond promptly and try to resolve complaints, though. Remember, it’s the consistent effort that ultimately earns your reputation, not the occasional ding.

“We always recommend to our clients to be proactive when it comes to customer service,” said The Media Captain’s Parks. “Don’t wait for negative reviews to come in before seeking out positive sentiment. Always be on the offensive so the positive reviews will outweigh the negative.”

“SocialMention is a free tool for keeping tabs on your brand name on forums and social media sites,” noted Concrete Camouflage CEO Earl Choate.

There are many other tools that can keep you on top of mentions, ratings and customer sentiments online, including the following examples:

Most provide free trials and it is an excellent idea to try them out and compare.

“Make sure that when vetting a service, that it is notifying you of reviews quickly. Having a bad review out there without a response for weeks, because you have setup weekly or monthly tracking, is very risky,” said Synup’s Clark.

“From a high-view, reputation management begins with initial branding guidelines and mapping out your full brand identity prior to launch,” said Stephanie Pope, one of the operators of family-owned Hope & Harmony Farms. “It’s easier to mitigate reputation management issues that pertain to your messaging when your foundation is strong.”

If your business needs assistance with managed IT and security services give EnhancedTECH a call at 714-970-9330 or contact us at sales@enhancedtech.com.

 

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Samantha Keller

Samantha Keller

Director of Marketing and PR at EnhancedTECH
Samantha Keller (AKA Sam) is a published author, tech-blogger, event-planner and mother of three fabulous humans. Samantha has worked in the IT field for the last fifteen years, intertwining a freelance writing career along with technology sales, events and marketing. She began working for EnhancedTECH ten years ago after earning her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and attending Fuller Seminary. She is a lover of kickboxing, extra-strong coffee, and Wolfpack football.Her regular blog columns feature upcoming tech trends, cybersecurity tips, and practical solutions geared towards enhancing your business through technology.
Samantha Keller

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