The internet is full of opinions, both positive and negative. As a company, how do you protect your reputation online?
It is going to be completely up to you how you want to address comments, particularly those which may veer towards the negative. What many companies do now (as compared to a few years ago) is to bring the criticism to light and show that they are actively trying to make improvements and that the comments have been taken on board. This shows a more human, personable side to your business and shows that you are committed to positive change.
Take Dell for example. In 2006 they were facing accusations that they were neglecting their online customers. Rather than shying away from this, Dell addressed the issues by taking action on Twitter and communicating directly with their customers.
While this approach may not work for everyone, it is worth considering. People are far more knowledgable when it comes to using the Internet now than ever before, so they will research a company before buying from them and if they come across negative reviews or articles, this will undoubtedly have an impact on their end decision. However, if they can see evidence that you are addressing the issues, this will show that you do in fact care about your company and reputation and that you are willing to do something about it. This may not sway the customer instantly, but over time you should find that the positive comments far outweigh the negative.
A company which left it too late to recover their brand is Brownes and Co Salon. Now, this name won’t mean too much to us in the UK, but one of their employees essentially portrayed a very negative overview of how the company treats their employees which resulted in a barrage of criticism via social networking.
Rather than addressing this straight away, Brownes and Co instead removed all negative comments from their Facebook page. The damage could be seen elsewhere online, however. Their ratings on sites such as Yelp had declined massively. The company did eventually try to salvage their reputation by responding to comments, but they waiting 24 hours before doing so – which is a very long time, considering the attention span of the internet!
Two years on, they are still working on bringing their reputation back to the standard it was previously.
A pro-active or quick reactive approach such as Dell’s is a far more effective way of dealing with this type of situation than a slow reactive (or non-existent as it was to begin with) approach demonstrated by Brownes and Co.
This just goes to show that you cannot under estimate the power of public opinion, particularly online where word spreads very fast. Make sure that you have a strategy and process in place for dealing with comments, both positive and negative. Show people that you take comments on board and that you are willing to make necessary changes. Your company and your customers will thank you for it.