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Change your Online Reputation Before your Customers do it for you

Your online reputation starts before customer reviews are posted, but are you paying attention? Doing so doesn’t mean you have to spend hours scouring the web. You just have to listen, organize and tackle those conversations, and first determine what it is you’ll do with what to do with what you find.

Imagine this: you’ve got a fledgling florist service and your head delivery all-star calls in sick, so you get a replacement and hope for the best. But that’s not what happens. A few botched deliveries later and the online chatter begins. You step in to put out the fires, find better staff and do the daily business owner shuffle, but within minutes your reputation is being chipped away by every customer and prospective customer with a keyboard and an opinion.

One option is to plug your ears and ignore it, which might have worked in Kindergarten but not today where anything said online does not go away until it’s acknowledged. When you start digging will you come across some less than rosy feedback? Probably. But isn’t knowing where things are going wrong superior to ignorance? If your delivery guy sucks, you should know about it and then make changes.

Just where are your customers talking? If you guessed ‘everywhere’ you’re spot on. Social Media has become the greatest forum for communication and is the first place someone is going to post a question or comment outside of writing a more ‘formal’ online review. Are you checking all your social inboxes, notifications and messages? Take advantage of the social media back and forth and that it’s totally okay, actually crucial, that your responses are downright personable. This means not sending links back to your FAQ’s or PR like stock response but instead talking like a human. Shocker! Remember that last online chat support that sent you canned responses and links to something totally unrelated to your actual problem? It pissed you off right? Now remember a time where you got a response from a real human, one that showed humility, compassion and conveyed their concern and really tried to help. So yeah, do that last one.

Next off is how you’re responding and whether you’re in, as Jay Baer author of Hug your Haters differentiates, listen mode or proactive mode. If you’re a small team or if this is all new to you, it’s okay to start out listening. This means you are looking for what people are saying about you, about your competitors and then operationally making changes based on the tone of what is being said. Jay Baer calls Listening mode ‘Online Reputation Management’ and this management involves you or some of your staff engaging in social media conversations to put out fires and provide a forum for listening, feedback. Proactive mode goes one step further in creating content that facilitates and starts the conversation. Videos, a social media campaign, hashtags that bring light to something you do great or is unique to your industry. These pretty cool Social Media Campaigns show just how you can surprise your customers and create the reputation you know you deserve.

Take on your reputation with total confidence. Use what people are saying about you as an opportunity, a conversation starter and a way to talk to the people that matter – your customers.