How to Address Negativity Online for Small Businesses | TTG

Digital Reputation Management: How to Address Negativity Online

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Updated August 2021.

For many businesses, the holiday season brings stretch to staff and companies. This is something consumers are not always mindful of—and we can’t blame them for that. We’re doing business in an era of immediate gratification, after all; where technology caters to customers who want what they want… and they wanted it yesterday.

Consumer demands and expectations are particularly high at this time of year. Sometimes – despite a business’s best efforts – these expectations can’t be met; leaving the consumer feeling dismayed, dissatisfied, and disappointed. In most cases, it doesn’t matter if you’ve satisfied the customer ten thousand times before— these negative feelings are what stand out to them now, and unfortunately, they may lead the consumer to leave unflattering reviews of your company online.

If you and your staff are feeling stressed, stretched, and strung out due to holiday-season-backlash against your brand, you’re not alone. Technology Therapy Group is here to help with tips and tactics for addressing and preventing consumer negativity in the digital space. Keep reading to learn more!

“How Should My Business Address Negativity Online?”

First thing’s first, it’s important to realize that every brand experiences negativity in the digital sphere. You could be leading the hardest working team in the industry, offering the most superior products known to mankind—and you will still encounter consumers as critics online. How you handle said negativity is what allows the true nature of your brand to shine through. Here are some strategies for reputation management – the practice of managing negative consumer reviews and comments online:

1. Address Unfavorable Comments.

Ignoring a negative comment gives an already upset customer more reason to bash your brand online. Addressing a negative comment, however, gives your brand an opportunity to redeem itself. Show that you’re truly invested in your consumers by addressing every comment—including the negative ones.

2. Offer A Polite, Genuine Apology.

Even if it’s not your fault. Ever hear the saying, “The first to apologize is the bravest”? It doesn’t matter if you’re not at fault— apologizing sincerely is the best thing you can do to resolve the matter at hand and excel at reputation management. Try starting with, “We’re truly sorry that…” or “Thank you for bringing this to our attention”. (More examples here).

3. Redirect the Conversation Away From The Limelight.

Make an effort to resolve the matter through more private means of communication (i.e. NOT in your social media comments for everyone to follow along). First, acknowledge the comment wherever it was left by offering a sincere apology. Then, let the user know you’ve sent them a direct message to discuss the matter further. You can also request that the customer call customer support or write you an email.

4. Make It Personal.

Don’t simply copy and paste apologies from one negative comment to the next. Show each customer you care about his or her plight by applying some form of personalization in your response. Let them know you’re listening to them and addressing their explicit concern.

5. The Two-Hour Rule.

Though you should be giving timely responses to all comments/reviews, make sure you’re especially punctual when replying to the negative ones— we suggest waiting no longer than two hours after the comment was made. The longer you wait to reply, the more it begins to look like you’re ignoring an upset customer—which no customer likes to see.

Ways to Drown Out Negativity in the Digital Space

1. Build a Dynamic Digital Community.

You can be proactive about reputation management. An excellent way to drown out negative reviews and comments is to build customer loyalty in your digital communities. The more positive interactions you have with consumers online, the more willing those consumers will be to go to bat for your brand. More often than not, a company that’s cultivated a dynamic digital community will have followers who want to counterbalance negative reviews or comments left by disgruntled consumers.

2. Ask for Positive Reviews.

If you’re striving to make your brand the best it can be, there’s no harm in asking for reviews from customers who have had positive experiences with your brand.

3. Publish content on a regular basis.

Give consumers fresh content to interact with on a regular basis. This allows you to be in control over what’s ranking your brand online— pushing negative reviews to the bottom of the Google bucket as a result.

Ways to Avoid Negative Reviews & Comments Altogether

There are several things you can do to help avoid negative feedback related to your brand in the first place:

1. Create Controlled “Complaint Areas”.

Tell your customers how to contact you should they have concerns about your brand, your products, or your services. You can even add an area for consumer complaints on your website with a built-in form that sends feedback directly to you (and not to social media for the rest of the world to see). Anticipating inevitable complaints helps you create a smooth user experience that benefits your reputation management plan.

2. Perform Post-Sale Follow-Ups.

Reach out to customers immediately after doing business with them. This way, if they’re unsatisfied with the goods or services you provided, you’re now their first point of contact and can work with them to resolve any problems or concerns head-on.

3. Make Yourself Accessible.

As a customer, the only thing worse than having a negative experience with a company is having a negative experience with a company and having no way to reach them. One of the best ways to de-escalate an upset customer is to let them know they can reach you with any concerns. Make sure your contact information is accurate and up-to-date on Google, your website, and all your social platforms.

Need Additional Assistance?

We’re on your team. Contact Technology Therapy Group today and ask how our Marketing Mentor Program can help improve your business’s digital reputation. Check out these on-demand sessions, too, for help improving your rep and managing reviews.

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