May 28, 2012 – Businesses are becoming more exposed in real time than ever before with online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, FlickR and blogs.
Receiving negative online feedback is an unavoidable part of having an online business presence, but there are ways to mitigate the impact they have on your reputation.
ReachLocal provides six tips on how to manage negative feedback before it causes serious or permanent damage to your business reputation.
Steven Prestidge, General Manager of ReachLocal Australia, said “It is just as important to manage online complaints as it is to deal with unhappy customers visiting a traditional store. In many ways it can be even more important to manage online customers. They have immediate recourse to share their experience with online communities who can quickly spread the word to other networks in a matter of minutes, where thousands of potential customers can be alerted about company issues.”
ReachLocal offers six tips for online reputation management:
1. Be aware not oblivious
If you are not online, you are likely to fall behind your competitors and be unaware of the conversations about your business. If you are aware, you have the ability to address a customer before it becomes a larger issue and damages your reputation.
Entering your business name into a search engine along with “reviews” or “complaints” can help you to do this. Google Alerts can monitor mentions of your business and pushes these to you, meaning you don’t have to remember to do this yourself.
2. Address the complaint immediately
Find out what the problem is straight away and quickly evaluate your options to rectify the situation. Your online community will not only judge you on the complaint, but also how you deal with the issue at hand.
Steven Prestidge, General Manager of ReachLocal Australia, said, “Remember the rule, how you respond to a problem is the most important part of the complaint process. Many complaints or concerns should be taken offline at the earliest opportunity. Publicly invite the customer to contact your office to discuss the issue further. There is little benefit to be gained from having a complex or serious complaint detailed in an online forum. If the complaint is resolved satisfactorily the customer may post about the resolution of their issue.”
3. Don’t start an argument
Be proactive not reactive. Whether or not a customer has a legitimate complaint, do not get defensive, make up an excuse or assign blame – the customer is always right. Instead, own the situation and take responsibility. If you remain calm, collected and respectful, it is more likely the customer will too. It also shows other customers that you are concerned and acting professionally. In some cases other loyal customers may side with you and discuss their positive experience.
4. Remember to focus on the positive
For every negative comment about your company, there will be scores of positive ones. Responding to negative reviews is only one part of reputation management.
It is just as important to highlight a positive. If you know of a happy customer, encourage them to post online and thank them on the same platform.
5. Maintain a presence
Be active online, it will show your prospects and customers that your business is accessible, responsive and has true personality. Remember, people do business with people so knowing that a person is watching over online transactions and the customer experience will instil confidence when customers make a purchase.
6. Deliver great customer service
Providing great customer service helps to drive positive reviews and word of mouth that will likely outweigh any complaints that are bound to surface.
At the end of the day, customer service, online or offline, remains a critical differentiator when building a successful business.
About ReachLocal, Inc.
ReachLocal, Inc.’s (NASDAQ: RLOC) mission is to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) acquire, maintain and retain customers via the Internet. ReachLocal offers a comprehensive suite of online marketing solutions, including search engine marketing (ReachSearch™), Web presence (ReachCast™), display advertising (ReachDisplay™), and online marketing analytics (TotalTrack®), each targeted to the SME market. ReachLocal delivers this suite of services to SMEs through a combination of its proprietary technology platform and its direct, “feet-on-the-street” sales force of Internet Marketing Consultants and select third party agencies and resellers. ReachLocal is headquartered in Woodland Hills, CA, with offices throughout North America and in Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan. In Australia, ReachLocal has a direct office in Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.
For more information please visit ReachLocal at: