Learn the basics of dealing with negative online exposure and the basics of online reputation management.
This article is a followup to an article I wrote about a YPG networking event last week. I had no idea that the article would take off like it did. I was less than impressed with how Mattison’s handled the blow back from an online perspective, so I decided to write an article about the right way and the wrong way to deal with negative online exposure.
I will be honest, no one from Mattison’s ever actually dropped an F-bomb on us in the process of telling us to leave or move away from the stage at the last YPG Networking event but they might as well have considering how they treated us and how people felt during and after the event. Let’s face it, perception is everything and arguing about it only makes you look more guilty in the eyes on an online audience so read on to make sure you don’t end up in the same situation.
The internet is everywhere!
Regardless of how it went down, we live in a digital age and anyone can get online and publish their perspective on any situation. There are a number of online review sites, forums, blogs and we can’t forget about social media. If you expect people to comment on the good things you do then you have to expect that people will also talk about the bad things you do. More important is that people will listen to the negative reviews more than the positive reviews so makung sure you handle them effectively is extreemly important, unless you want to end up like Casey Movers!
While this article is a direct response to how Mattisons responded to their recent negative online publicity you could apply these topics to pretty much any negative online publicity so without any further adue!
Here are a few basic do and don’ts of dealing with negative online reviews
With so many people connecting online and through social media these days it is important for companies to understand that customer relationships extend far beyond the walls of your business. The days of asking to speak to a manger to resolving your problem are not necessarily behind us but you can always expect people to share their negative experiences with their friends and now a days on their blog’s, social profiles and review websites. that being said, here are a few rules to follow to minimize the fallout from any negative online publicity.
Do: Try to get ahead of the situation
The first step to handling any negative online publicity is to immediately take the high road and get in front of the problem as soon as possible. Whether you are right or wrong you need to accept responsibility, do what you can to make the person happy and try to keep the negative exposure to a bare minimum.
It might even be possible for you to spin the article and turn the negative in to a positive. At worst, you make it public that you owned up to your screw up and let people know that you messed up and tried to make it right.
Don’t: Wait a week to respond and then yell at the person who wrote the review
The last time I checked this was America and we still have freedom of speech (for now at least). You never win when you try to exert influence on the person who wrote the negative review, blog article etc. What happens in that situation is that the person might double down their efforts to spread the word about their negative experience and now you come off even worse as people see that you engaged the person and rejected responsibility which has a completely opposite effect to what you were trying to do. Not only is the initial review validated but you end up looking like a jerk hurting your cause in the long run.
Do: Take the time to reply to comments, social media shares and more
You should try to monitor the post and the people talking about it or at the bare minimum post a statement of your own through your own online channels. Social media can be a valuable tool for handling customer service unless you don’t take the time to respond or engage people online.
Don’t: Ignore the situation
Ignoring the post or article only lets it build steam and momentum. The longer you wait to address the article, the more damage it can cause to your online reputation. Not to mention the more people see the article before you get to have any say about it.
Do: Reach out personally to the person who wrote the review.
Writing a reply or comment on a blog is good to get your point across but berating the author of the article or review only makes you look like an jerk face! You would be better served to reach out to the individual on a personal level and try to see if there is anything you can do to change their mind about how they feel. Who knows, they might update the article and you might even be able to put a positive spin on the whole thing.
Don’t: Leave your contact information on their blog and then attack them when they call
I understand you might not be able to get the reviewers personal contact information (I would find it hard to believe but let’s give them the benefit if the doubt here) but on the chance that they make contact with you you should do everything you can to make them feel like you are contrite about the experience and not yell at them on the phone. It makes you look like an idiot and further validates their initial thought about your company.
No one wins in a situation like that and the last thing you want is another article online or more negative publicity for something that could have been put to bed had you just swallowed your pride and admitted you made a mistake.
Do: Whatever you can to try and make things right
A gift card or even a sincere apology is often all it takes to get someone to change their mind about the situation. People are pretty forgiving and willing to give people a second chance as long as there is an attempt to make things right.
Don’t: Get aggressive and treat the person who wrote the review like you are better than them
It would be better to do nothing at all than to push the person who wrote the negative review to dislike you even more. You never know the platform that the person has and how their perception of you might affect your future business. Heck, they might even be an experienced online marketer and they might just continue to spread those negative reviews online leading to a longer life cycle for your negative publicity.
Do: Suck up your pride and try to squash the situation
The shorter the life-cycle the less negative impact the article will have. The sooner you get in front of the situation, swallow your pride and apologize, the sooner the situation will fade off in to the sunset.
Don’t: Let your ego extend the life-cycle of a negative article.
Remember you are trying to kill this thing as quickly as possible, do not let your ego and need to feel powerful get in the way of squashing the negative experience. You might feel good momentarily but what happens if the person feels even more slighted and decides to escalate one negative story in to a series of articles or promote the negative review even further.
Welcome to the world of online customer engagement
It’s a new world, you can not deal with an online problem the same way you might deal with an in-store situation. You never know how many people are going to read the negative review or article but you can be sure that the longer you let it simmer the worse it is going to be. The last thing you want is for an article to gain viral traction online and start showing up in search rankings when people search for your company.
Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google+ are all given favorability when it comes to online search results. You need to make sure that you try to keep as much of your online exposure positive regardless of fault, especially if your online reach is limited.
Do you have a negative online review story that got out of hand? One that you were able to stay ahead of? Feel free to share it in the comments and let me know what you think.