Tactic #3. Deal with complaints from customers offline
Wright advises that there isn’t much to gain from getting into an argument online with a customer. He also says that one issue that you might be faced with is having to fight a battle on a territory that is not yours. In these situations, it can be very easy to sound defensive. According to Wright this situation is similar to talk radio, where just a few people call in, but there are thousands more who are listening. When somebody posts a gripe or complaint online about your company, always remember there are many people watching to see how the situation is going to be handled. Wright says that the best way of handling a majority of complaints online is to:-
– Open with, “I’m sorry you are having this problem.”
– Do not admit to any guilt.
– After your opening, follow up with, “Please call me, or email me, and give me your email address or phone number.”
– After that, respond to them offline.
– Your dirty laundry should not be aired on social media.
– For any complaints left on Twitter, ask for the individual to follow you and then send a direct message to them.
According to Wright, when you have a very combative personality on your hands, if you continue interacting in public it will just serve to create even more negative content about your brand that the search engines can index. One exception to moving complaints offline is when it is easy to solve the issue, or you need to provide someone with information. In that case, you can handle the matter publicly. Once you have taken a complaint offline, determine what the problem is. At times, you might just have somebody who is unhappy. However, solve the problem if there really is a service issue.
Wright says that a good rule of thumb to follow is to offer to solve a complaint offline a maximum of three times. If an individual continues to refuse to take you up on your offer and keeps posting negative content regarding your brand, you will begin to appear to be the reasonable person and it can help to diffuse the negative impact the complaint has. Wright likens social media to people having a megaphone on steroids.
– Monitor your brand
Monitoring your brand on a regular basis is the best way of tracking down online complaints. You can either use a paid solution or free one such as Google Alerts. Wright says it isn’t something that will break the bank but it can potentially save your business if you begin to see some negative things.
-The rules have changed
According to Wright, the advice for today is different from even just a few years ago. This is due to the rise of consumer-generated content from social media. In the days when message boards were predominant, the advice given was to not respond to the complaints posted in forums. If you responded in a message board you would tend to receive a series of negative comments regarding your company, which would make you look worse for responding.
However, with social media, addressing a complaining customer directly, and them moving the conversation quickly offline, is the best action to take.
Tactic #4. The best thing to do at times is to tie your CEO up
Wright explained that what might be a crisis to your CEO might not be a crisis from a general standpoint. Something that appears to be a major problem to an executive, might not be a true problem or crisis. Wright says that one example of this is when he has clients actively ask for customer reviews. It’s important for them to understand that not all reviews will be positive. He says he is happy with a combination of 30% negative and neutral reviews to 70% positive reviews.
Even with that mixture, the 30% is probably not anywhere as bad as some of the individuals at the company might view them to be. According to Wright, if you survey three individuals at the company and three individuals outside of the company on the the non-positive review’s tone, the outsiders will be a lot more likely to consider the post to be neutral instead of negative, but the company representatives will be a lot more defensive about them. The takeaway here is to not overreact to comments concerning your brand that you see as negative. It is important to not appear to be too defensive about content that isn’t seen as that negative by others.
Tactic #5. Don’t hesitate to ask for help
At times brand reputation issues can escalate quickly, and you may potentially end up reacting too late in order to get the problem solved. Wright says that when you see a crisis about to occur you need to ensure you have someone who is competent to handle the problem. This person can either be an outside consultant or someone in-house. It is especially important to get help if the issue may end up being displayed in the search results. Wright says that is where reputation issues can cause the most damage. According to Wright, the brands and companies that are at risk the most with negative search engine results are those without household names.
Proactive reputation management, can be a hard thing to sell internally. According to Wright, there isn’t any ROI calculation for being proactive. You only have a number if you don’t protect your reputation proactively, and then end up with a crisis that costs you a lot of money.
Tactic #6. Define your success (or least bad outcome)
When you have a reputation crisis what should you do? Wright says that when a crisis occurs, your first question should be, “what is success going to be for us in this scenario?”
Some definitions for success might include the following:
– Changing your customer review landscape from negative to more positive
– Maintaining news coverage that is more neutral instead of negative
– Getting something negative out of the SERPs
Keep in mind that your company’s reputation may be potentially affected by any individual that is part of your organization.
Tactic #7. Pick up the pieces (and next time avoid the problem)
Once a crisis has occurred, analyze it and answer these four questions:
– What took place?
– What can we do to prevent it from occurring again in the future?
– What impact did it have?
– What is its future impact?
When you have answer to the questions it can help you determine whether your crisis management was effective or not in dealing with the situation.