Manage Your Online Reputation; Avoid a PR Nightmare

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When someone writes a negative review about your business or starts a thread on a forum; it’s not fun to deal with negative publicity, no matter how large or small your brand is.

Ideally your company already has a solid action plan and protocol in place for times like these.  You can’t just bury your head in the sand and pretend the problem is not there.

Even something that may not seem “big” upon immediate inspection can grow into multiple, ongoing problems.  It’s best to immediately nip these issues in the bud before they morph into an unmanageable PR nightmare.

Here’s an example:  I once worked for a medical company that had a healthcare provider who, well, wasn’t exactly known for her bedside manner. We’ll call her Dr. A.  Workers in the clinic with Dr. A started complaining but the administrator simply moved these workers to other clinics versus dealing with Dr. A directly.  This just made things worse.  The complaints still found their way back to Dr. A, more kept coming in and they had also spread to the other clinics as well.  We also started losing patients over Dr. A.  Eventually she was let go, solving most of the problem. But it didn’t resolve all the problems by any means.

Sometime after her termination, I was attending a medical conference and had several people, including some who has provided the clinic with financial grants for support, express to me their great disappointment in the service we offered. The more I pried the more I found out what happened. I also found online complaints.  Upon further review of the online listings the same people who complained in the clinics went online to leave negative feedback.

Slowly but surely we went through each one and resolved the issues and got a few patients to come back. What should have happened from the beginning is when the complaints started coming in, they should have been taken seriously and addressed and corrected right then. Dr. A should have been dealt with immediately.  Instead, these complaints were brushed off as “well, no one likes going to the doctor.”

Making these types of assumptions and not taking the complaints seriously from the onset was a huge mistake.  In addition, the communication should have been better between the staff and administration.

Communication is Key

Usually the first step in an online reputation management (ORM) campaign is to view what the search engine result pages (SERPs) look like when searching for your brand name.  Also, what is the direct communication like between you and your clients as well as you and your staff?  Do you have an open door policy?  Are your clients able to leave feedback with people other than those at the front desk? Who is responsible for handling complaints, customer service issues, and general feedback (positive or negative)?

Often times customer service is seen as an entry level position.  But in reality these people are responsible for helping the company grow by helping with client retention. If a customer isn’t happy, figure out the problem and resolve it for them in a personalized manner.  Get other departments involved.  Do whatever it takes.  As well, if someone is pleased and expressing that, do more than just verbally thanking them.  Go a step beyond by sending them a coupon or discount for next time.  Give a value thank you to them for taking the time to compliment your products or services, which they didn’t have to do.  You are supposed to provide excellent products and services regardless.  So when someone goes out of their way to compliment you, you need to go out of your way to show your gratitude.

Social Media is More Than Just Placement in the SERPs

If you’re running into some ORM issues, you’ve probably read about building your brand’s presence more positively.  This usually includes setting up a blog and launching some social media profiles.  When doing so, focus on the main reason you are doing these things.  Yes these properties will open up more placement for your brand  in Google; but they’re also two-way communication portals.  Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and even your blog, are all open for customers to leave feedback. You can also list on Yelp and Google Places to get mentions and more positive reviews.

Also know that any decent SEO can get ranking in the SERPs for a Website or social media profile. But you need more than that.  You need someone willing to also help identify gaps in communication and customer service response to truly help resolve reputation issues that keep cropping up.  Like in the medical field, band-aids are temporary and only go so far.  You have to get to the root of the problem and treat it to be truly effective.

Need more than a band-aid?  Give us a call!