How’s your reputation?

According to Wikipedia

Reputation management is the understanding or influencing of an individual’s or business’s reputation. It was originally coined as a public relations term, but advancement in computing, the internet and social media made it primarily an issue of search results. Although it is often associated with ethical grey areas, such as astroturfing (the practice of masking the sponsors of a message (e.g. political, advertising, or public relations) to give the appearance of it coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant) review sites, censoring negative complaints or using SEO tactics to game the system and influence results, there are also ethical forms of reputation management, such as responding to customer complaints, asking sites to take down incorrect information and using online feedback to influence product development.

But what does that mean for you and or your company?

It simply means that you should monitor what the people on the web are saying about your company good or bad. When you know what’s good about your company through reviews it might be surprising to you. You might have thought your customers liked you for a totally different reason then they are actually commenting on in the reviews. If you do find this is the case it would be a great time to re-evaluate your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

Of course you might also find out things about your company and its staff that are troubling as well. If you are a popular business you should expect that once in a while you will have a dissatisfied customer. If that customer went to the trouble of placing a bad review you better know about it and address it immediately. Don’t forget that once you have addressed the bad review to the satisfaction of the customer you ask them to please update their review. If it was resolved amicably they will usually accommodate your request.

When you receive a bad review the first thing to do is DON’T PANIC! Take a deep breath and re-read it carefully from the customers point of view. Are they right? Did you or your staff do something wrong? If so OWN UP TO IT AND MAKE IT RIGHT. If the problem is fixable address it and make it right on-line. DO NOT HAVE AN ONLINE WAR WITH THE CUSTOMER. DO NOT BLAME THE CUSTOMER. DON’T THROW ANYONE UNDER THE BUS. TAKE OWNERSHIP AND THEN BE EMPATHETIC, ADDRESS AND FIX THE PROBLEM IMMEDIATELY IF POSSIBLE.

If you care about your reputation you will feel the stress of the situation and might look for drastic measures restrain from doing the wrong thing like going in there and writing your own reviews to push that one down the page. Most of the people that use reviews to decide if they want to do business with a company can see through that tactic. In addition, never hire a company that will post fake reviews for your company. The best strategy that I have found is to ask actual happy customers to review your company on-line. Do not compensate them for the review as this would be unethical. Just give them great service. Make them a happy customer. When you receive a good review you should thank your customer publically.

There are many ways to monitor you and your company’s reputation. You can hire a company or you can do it yourself. I recommend trying it yourself first. If it becomes overwhelming then think about hiring a company to do it for you.

Here are some great F R E E tools (not an exhaustive list) to help you monitor your reputation (Some might require an account):

Google Alerts:
Yahoo Alerts:
Bing Alerts:
You can set up alerts with your company name, employee’s names, competitor’s names, etc. and get a daily email if any results are found on the web.

Search thousands of published blogs for posts.

Real-time social media search and analysis.

Whos Talkin:
Similar to SocialMention

Any major search engine.
Search for your company name to see what people are saying about you and what websites you and your company are on.

Let me know if you need any help. As always your comments are appreciated.

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