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When you were younger, your parents likely told you not to worry about what other people thought or said about you. While that may be true for building self-confidence at a young age, this same principle doesn’t apply in the business world.
Sadly, what people say and think about your company can either make or break you. With 84% of people admitting they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, you need to give your reputation special attention.
Have you recently found yourself in hot water? Has your reputation been tarnished in some way?
Regardless of who’s at fault, you need to consider online reputation repair – and fast!
It only takes a few bad reviews or one questionable tweet to fall from grace – but how long does it take to bounce back?
Keep reading to discover how to reclaim your spot at the top!
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What Can Damage Your Reputation?
Before we discuss how to repair a damaged reputation, let’s discuss what types of risky behavior might get you into trouble.
Poor Customer Service
This is the place where most business reputations take the biggest hit. If your customer service isn’t up to par, your reputation can nosedive overnight.
Customers want to feel appreciated, respected and catered too. While you can’t make everyone happy, it’s your job to try.
This means being responsive to customer complaints and suggestions. Monitor your online reviews and take quick action to address any negative chatter.
Avoid getting defensive, but instead, extend a sincere apology and offer incentives for the customer to give you a second chance. Not only will this increase your chances of regaining their business, but it shows prospective customers that you’re not afraid to face negative feedback.
Ignoring negative reviews and customer complaints is a one-way ticket to a less than stellar online reputation.
Ethics are important in all aspects of life, and this is especially true in maintaining a positive reputation.
As a business owner, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard, setting ethical examples for your employees. A lapse in moral judgment opens you up to a world of trouble.
If you’re a successful business owner, you’re an even bigger target for media attention – and it’s no secret, people love a good scandal.
Even if you had a previous lapse in judgment, don’t be surprised if it sticks with your brand long-term. Both employees and customers will have a hard time trusting you if your company’s tied to fraud or other illegal activities.
Speaking of employees, the impression you leave on your workers directly affects your reputation. Disgruntled employees who feel wronged, mistreated, or duped are often more than willing to bad mouth your company after you cut ties.
Keeping your employees happy will benefit your business in two ways. First, it helps breeds a positive internal company culture. Secondly, it helps improve public opinion about your brand.
Happy employees will speak highly of the company, both during their employment and long after.
And don’t forget that your employees are at the forefront of the customer service experience. When they feel invested in their jobs, they’re more likely to provide impeccable service, boosting your reputation.
The First Steps in Online Reputation Repair
Even after taking all of these necessary steps to preserve your reputation, accidents happen – some within your control and others, not.
Regardless of what tarnished your reputation, the fact remains that it happened. And now it’s time to perform online reputation repair.
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Identify the Cause
Before you can repair your reputation, you need to identify the cause of its demise.
Here are just a few things that could potentially taint your reputation:
- Poor customer service
- Low-quality products
- False advertising
- Fraud/internal company issues
- Disgruntled/unhappy employees
Once you pinpoint exactly what’s damaging your good name, you can take the right approach to fix it. Do some internal investigating, online research, and digging to see where things went wrong.
Be Specific About Offering Solutions
Now you need a specific plan of attack for performing online reputation repair. Beyond creating your own repair outline, you need to tell your customers exactly how you’re going to make things right.
Be prepared that some people may not be willing to give you a second chance. But when done right, performing reputation repair can help bring your company back to life.
Try offering discounts to displeased customers or offering a public apology if your reputation damage is widespread.
Overshadow the Negative with Positive
Combating negative online reviews should be a top priority for online reputation repair. But beyond responding to negative reviews, you can try replacing them with positive ones. There are a few ways to do this.
Elicit the help of some of your most loyal customers. Ask them to visit the websites where your negative reviews appear and flood them with positive ones. Over time, the negative reviews will get buried and you’ll be on the road to recovery.
You can also ask every new, pleased customer to please review your company online. Most happy customers will have no problem taking a few minutes to leave you alike, 5-star review, or positive comment.
Don’t Get Complacent
One of the biggest mistakes people make is getting complacent with their online reputation management. Don’t be fooled into thinking a few days or weeks of effort is enough.
Maintaining a positive online reputation should be a regular part of your daily operations. When you keep your reputation in mind, you may never need to repair it.
Uphold ethical standards, offer impeccable service, and monitor your online reviews – both good and bad. If you’re currently recovering from a damaged reputation, spend ample time building your company back up.
Online reputation repair is one investment that’s well worth the time and effort it takes.
How Long Will it Take?
There’s no clear-cut answer to this question. Depending on how big a hit your reputation took, the repair could take anymore from six months to a year. Some businesses never fully recover.
While this thought might scare you, it’s the harsh reality of business ownership. Don’t let this discourage you. It’s still imperative you do everything you can to repair the damage and continue moving forward.
The biggest hurdle in online reputation repair (and the one that takes the most time) is pushing negative reviews down on the search results page. This usually takes about two months.
It’s also important to avoid focusing on one specific site. Determine how many sites your company is listed on and which ones have the most negative reviews. Address every site that might be negatively impacting your results on the SERPs.
Another tactic to help limit negative comments online (and speed up the repair process) is asking unhappy customers to contact you via email or phone. This helps move the conversation offline, leading to quicker reputation turnaround.
Tips for Avoiding Another Mishap
Now that you know the root causes of a damaged reputation and how to rectify the problem, here are a few tips for preventing a relapse.
Protect Against Data Breaches
Believe it or not, one of the biggest threats against your company’s reputation may lie within. Data breaches can occur due to human error or disloyal employees.
Take the necessary steps to protect vital information from hackers and properly train staff on company privacy policies.
Offer Employee Training and Incentives
You can never invest too much time (or money) in your employees. After all, they’re the face of your business and therefore, your first line of defense against reputation damage.
Make sure all employees are properly trained in how to handle customers and deliver exemplary service. Offer incentives for those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
Happy employees are productive employees. They’re also more inclined to speak positively about the company (even off the clock) and refer friends and family.
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Closely Monitor Your Online Presence
Monitoring your online presence has never been more important for maintaining a positive reputation. With more than 800 million people using social media for work (and over 3.4 billion social media users worldwide), you need eyes and ears all over the internet.
This means closely monitoring your website, comments left on your blog posts and social media platforms, and reviews across all outlets. This allows you to act swiftly in the face of negativity and perform damage control immediately.
Don’t Make Empty Promises
Word is bond.
If you make a promise or vow as a company, you need to follow through. Nothing tarnishes a good reputation faster than dishonesty and misplaced trust.
Is there a gap between the values of your project and the actions you take? If so, you need to close that gap immediately!
Obtaining loyal customers is the goal of any successful business. This means following through on promises and delivering a quality product or service.
Avoid negative attention by making good on your promises.
Online Reputation Repair is Possible
If your reputation recently took a hit, don’t throw in the towel just yet. With these online reputation repair tips and advice on how to avoid another mishap, you can bounce back in no time!
Need help tackling your reputation repair? Learn more about our process and how we can help breathe new life into your company!