Your company’s online reputation has direct influence over whether new prospects select your company, and a candidate for hire accepts your offer. It even impacts SEO and your company’s visibility in online searches.
You can no longer avoid the power of Google Reviews, Glassdoor and Indeed Comments, or social posts. These sites are important elements of your Revenue Generating System but often overlooked.
Two Case Studies: Stories of Bad Online Reviews
Two clients recently came to me with a concern about their online reputation and how to handle it.
Hiring Candidate Reviews
In the first client’s case, there were multiple negative reviews written on Glassdoor by a vindictive former employee. They were wildly untrue, and incredibly damaging.
Collectively, the fake reviews dragged their company score down to 2.3 stars out of 5. It was likely the reason they were struggling to entice qualified candidates to apply for their job openings in a market that should have produced tons of results.
In the second case, a disgruntled customer left negative reviews on Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook. In this situation, the company had done everything possible to help their dissatisfied patron, to no avail. There was no satisfying him. He wanted the world to know and shared his one-sided version of events in online reviews and social comments.
Should You Ignore Bad Online Reviews?
It’s tempting to ignore bad online reviews when they come up in hopes that they’ll fade away. They won’t. In today’s online world, reputation is everything.
When I look at online reviews, I always read the negative reviews
They impact my decision to act or not. Likely you’re the same way – as are your potential new hires and buyers.
One of the most important factors in those negative reviews is the company’s response.
Is the response positive and professional or is it defensive? Even worse, did they just ignore the review? A lack of response says you either don’t pay attention or you don’t care. And neither of those looks good for you.
Take Control of Your Online Reviews
As a digital marketing agency, we help our clients manage their online reputation when they run into snags like this, and protect their reputations before issues happen. As we do, it’s been crystal clear that an online reputation can be carefully cultivated to be what you want it to be. But you can’t do that if you aren’t monitoring your online reviews.
You have to know what’s being said – and take control to protect your company. This is your reputation we’re talking about. One bad actor can harm your company’s ability to grow and take years to overcome if you aren’t being proactive.
3 Steps Handle Bad Online Reviews
These 3 steps will help you take control when you get negative on-line reviews:
1. Flag false reviews.
If there are negative online reviews that are false, it’s worth it to flag and challenge them, if the website gives you the opportunity to do so.
2. Yes, you should reply.
There are three keys to your response.
How to Reply to a Negative Review
- First, always thank the person for their feedback.
- Second, never get defensive.
- Finally, always keep your replies professional and courteous.
If you did something wrong, own it, apologize, and offer amends or offer to contact the person to make it up to them.
When Not to Reply to a Negative Review
There is one exception when you don’t want to reply: don’t respond to personal attacks. It’s not worth the time. Most customers will see above the personal attacks, and responding to those can make you look petty and defensive, no matter how you do it.
3. Send a legal notification.
If you know who wrote the negative review, and you know it’s false, you may want to send a letter from your attorney. While it may or may not be something you can act on, simply receiving notification from an attorney may be sufficient for the bad actor to take down the review.
4 Steps to Protect Your Company’s Reputation
Now that you know how to handle negative reviews, it’s time to get proactive.
1. Claim your digital space.
Most websites where people can leave a review about your business offer your organization the ability to “claim” your business, such as Google My Business.
To do that, look for an option that says, “is this your business” or “claim your business.”
Then, you establish an account, add your logo and branding, company images and descriptions. When you don’t do this, anybody can post images and claim that the images are of your business.
2. Solicit reviews from happy people.
As part of your B2B lead generation system, have employees, former employees, customers, colleagues, and alliance partners post positive reviews. Run campaigns and ask your sales team to request reviews. Be proactive.
How Positive Reviews Help
Positive reviews won’t override a negative review, but they will do two things:
- Increase your average rating.
- Add another positive opinion for your potential customers or employees to review and make more informed choices.
The more positive reviews you have, the less importance a negative review carries. Plus, all those positive reviews help your SEO and make great testimonials for your website and marketing campaigns.
3. Know what people are saying about you.
There are a number of reputation management tools you can use to monitor what people are saying about you and what your overall online reputation looks like. These are affordable and help you stay on top of your reviews.
You can also use them to encourage people to leave reviews for you. We use bizratings.com but there are many other tools you can find with a quick Google search of “online reputation tool.”
4. Build your digital ubiquity.
It is much harder for someone to assert something negative about you if you are well-established across multiple channels. When you have active and up-to-date social media accounts, executives regularly engaged on LinkedIn, and a Google My Business account, you are a clear authority.
If you aren’t active today, get active. Stop looking at social media as a lead source and start thinking of it as a reputation management tool.
Take Charge of Your Online Reputation
Don’t wait until you receive a bad online review to take these steps. Take charge of your online presence now and manage your reputation. That way, if someone does leave a negative review, you are already ahead of the game and able to act swiftly to address it.
Bottom line, you can’t have a good online reputation by avoiding bad reviews. Take charge of your digital presence and those reviews will carry a lot less weight.