Online review sites, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, are growing in popularity among Internet-savvy customers. Many people rely on these review sites to purchase product or service. While happy customers can be your best brand ambassadors, bad online reviews can wreck your reputation and discourage customers from doing business with you.

Find out what people are saying about you

To find out what type of reputation you have online, start be entering your company’s name in Google and other search engines. You will quickly find out what people are saying about your business as well as images associated with your company. You can also create alerts with your company name to help you monitor what people are saying about you. Software and applications are also available to help you manage your online reputation.

Interact with your community to avoid nasty surprises later on

The reality of the Internet and social media of today means that a company doesn’t broadcast messages to a community—it starts a dialogue with a community regarding its products and services. As is the case with telephone-based customer service, comments you receive on your website, online review sites and social media must be diligently tracked and answered. Not responding to these comments can have a negative impact on your online reputation.

Never delete negative comments, even if you are able to do so. Honesty and transparency are crucial for your reputation. However, if these comments include inaccurate information or out-right lies, you can nevertheless professionally address them. Maintain a polite and neutral tone at all times; make sure you convey a sense of class and keep emotions out of the dialogue. Some issues cannot be resolved online or via a social media network; if you see that exchanges between a disgruntled customer persist, you should invite him or her to contact your company by telephone.

Of course, you will not only receive negative comments! Take the time to thank people you give kudos to your company, products or services. While many take the time to make a complaint, very few take the time to compliment a business.

Prepare for the unexpected

On the web, everything evolves at a rapid-fire rate. Some issue may arise, causing a crisis that must be addressed as quickly as possible. Prepare an online crisis management plan with experts in the field. You cannot prevent people from expressing comments about your company; however, you can control the image you want to project by communicating with them. The ultimate caveat: if you don’t take control of your online image, someone else will do it for you.

Sources

Libaert Thierry et Johannes, Karine. La communication corporate. Éditions Dunod . Paris 2010. P.110-111.

Matia, Alexa. 6 Tools for Monitoring Your Online Reputation. Entrepreneur . https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/277908. July 7, 2016.

Adams, Susan. 6 Steps to Managing Your Online Reputation. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/03/14/6-steps-to-managing-your-online-reputation/#20a40313c1ac. March 14, 2013.

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