Professional reputation management is becoming more and more of a big deal. Today, nearly everyone researches the professional reputation of someone with whom they are thinking about doing business.
Whether they are going to spend $50 or $50,000, they want to know who they are doing business with and what experiences others have had with the business or professional too. That’s why professional reputation management is something you can’t afford to ignore.
Additionally, there are numerous places people can get this information. On websites such as Google Reviews, Yelp, Angie’s List, About.com, reviews and experiential data is readily available.
Reviews can be super helpful for you or your business marketing. In fact, experts will tell you getting – and publishing – reviews and testimonials should be a huge priority in your professional lead generation process.
Furthermore, it lets you take control of your professional reputation management in a positive manner.
People love social proof. They’d rather hear (and are much more likely to believe) your past customers raving about you or your business, than you doing it. Additionally, if you have a website, external review sites help your search engine optimization in many cases too.
On the other hand, bad reviews can tear down a business’ credibility – rightfully or wrongfully – as well. You know what they say… good news travels fast – bad news travels faster!
Think about the rumors you hear… Whether real or possibly falling under the header “fake news”, they truly spread virally—like a bad disease. People love to hit those “like”, “share”, and “forward” buttons. And no more so than when the “news” being shared is scintillating or scandalous.
A zillion happy customers may tell a friend or two about their great experience. However, make a customer mad, and they will tell a hundred. Who will then forward on that story to another hundred or more!
Pretty soon, this one negative encounter becomes so widespread, it is what people associate with your business totally and completely.
Perhaps, you’ve also noticed that these negative stories get bigger—worse—every time they are shared too.
Each time the story or situation is passed on, more “details” get added. Remember the gossip game most of us played as a kid? Where you sat in a circle or line and one person started the game by whispering a couple of sentences to the next. That person shares it with the one beside them and so on… Until the last person says out loud what was told to them (or what they heard) at the end. Usually, it’s not even remotely close to what started.
With a negative customer report or review, the same is often true. Many times, a customer’s single bad encounter with your business gets worse and worse the more it is passed on to others and the farther it reaches.
If you aren’t aware of the problem at the beginning, by the time you are, it may be much bigger and harder to fix – even with professional reputation management processes and systems – because of how it “grew” along the way.
If it’s online, it’s true…
Furthermore, the Internet has completely changed the standard of proof for nearly everything. Fake sources can look 100% “real”; “experts” can, in fact, be imposters who put on a good act, and “publishing” can be done by nearly anyone.
Since the average person tends to believe almost all of what they read or see, it doesn’t matter if the story – or in your case, the complaint / issue – is real or not. For most, if it’s out there on the WWW, it becomes true.
Obviously, you can’t make everyone happy. And since we now know those who are unhappy are much more likely to take the time and effort to leave a review than their happy counterpart – potentially doing a world of damage to your online reputation – what do you do?
First, you must know it exists. That means you should monitor the web with something like Google Alerts – or an actual professional reputation management platform – so you know when you’re mentioned online. That way, you can address any negative reports quickly—before they have a chance to morph or grow into something massively worse.
If the review is real, do some research and get to the bottom of it. What happened? Why? Then, respond to the review. Make sure, however, not to make excuses. The key is just to exhibit a willingness to make it right if your business has legitimately done something wrong.
On the other hand, if the review is fake – or the data is incorrect – you should still respond and still exhibit your desire to get to the bottom of the situation and rectify any problems.
Be sure to ask for additional details. Most of the time, a fake reviewer or someone who is falsifying or exaggerating details, won’t respond back. This speaks volumes to your potential visitors and customers.
However, if the reviewer does respond, address the issue—not the source. When you simply try to discredit the person who made the review, that generally only rallies support for them and makes you look like the “bad guy” even more. Thus, address the content—not the creator.
Of course, there will still be occasions when none of your effort matters and the review is there – not going away – and nothing you try makes the reviewer happy. In those cases, you can take solace in knowing that most everyone knows you can’t make all people happy all the time. Things go wrong. Life – and business – are sometimes a little messy. Use it as a learning experience, move on, and move forward. The fabulous reviews to come will soon move the bad ones to the bottom and out of sight.