The arrival of social media and other online marketing techniques has acted as a catalyst for a greater level of customer satisfaction. With increased interaction the ease with which people can publicly express their views, comments, and reviews about a brand also increases. This means that you have to put up some hard work to make your brand as immune as possible towards negative comments and web search results. Here are some tactics for the same.
Marketing has undergone a transformation at the most fundamental level through various digital and social media tools. Customers feel more powerful and in more control than ever when it comes to interacting with their favorite brands. Therefore marketing also has to change from mass e-mailing or messaging to individual focused customer engagement. An empowered customer base is not always good news especially if you are a business owner as anyone has the freedom to attack your brand, with a legitimate reason or not. Therefore it has become all the more important to monitor, protect and manage the reputation of your brand.
Control the search results
Whenever someone inputs a search query in Google, the search engine results page comes up, with typically 10 results at a time. Needless to say, your goal should be to populate this search result page with as many positive results as possible, or with as less negative results as possible. There might be some positive feedback about your business on the web and also some negative feedback and the key, here is to point the search engine towards as many positive feedbacks as possible.
The first thing to do in this regard is to do proper search engine optimization of your site and fully optimize it. The basics should be right-a correctly formatted code and keyword rich content.
Few years back Google came up with a very helpful feature, Google Suggest, where suggestions are generated as you type in the search box. These suggestions are based on popular search terms, and if a negative suggestion comes up in the Google search box, it indicates a problem with your online reputation. People are attracted towards negative stuff and will often click on the negative auto-suggested search. Doing so will fortify the negative search’s popularity. Although there is no foolproof method to combat this issue, the only option you have is to drive as many searches as possible towards results that do not have the negative term.
Ask for positive customer feedback
A huge part of online brand management is about managing the customer reviews about products and services. For each positive review, there will be at least five negative reviews, experiences or opinions and countering them is a big task. Every big company, however good it claims to be, will find itself at the receiving end of flak by customers or by an ex-employee. Internet is a free for all democracy where you have zero control over what people say and write about you.
Therefore, countering negative reviews and customer feedback through a positive review strategy is the only solution that you have. As a part of this strategy, you have to actually ask customers to write positive reviews. Better than asking customers to leave positive reviews on various online outlets is to create a review portal on your website. This section needs not be on the main navigation but it should be the place where your satisfied customer would head to leave a positive review.
Tackle customer complaints offline
Never try to take a customer head on. It ensue a flame war which will do little good to your reputation. This is a similar situation where few people call in to talk with a RJ on radio and a thousand other people are listening anytime. Your every action and retaliatory comment is being keenly watched by a thousand followers and people are going to have their own judgments about how well you handle the situation.
For any customer grievance there are few points to keep in mind:
· Initiate the response with something like, “I feel sorry for what you had to go through, or you are having this problem” , even if you don’t. Instead of prolonging the response, just keep it short and simple, without admitting any guilt over the problem.
· In your second or third sentence, take your response offline with lines, “Please email me the issue here, or please visit this page..http://xyz.issueform.html or call me at 8789#*^86. On twitter ask the person to direct message you.
This helps in thinning the negative content about the problem that customer faced with your product or service, saving you from a bad image problem. In case the problem is too simple and there is something informative that can help other customers as well, go ahead and share it.
In order to track down all the negative feedback, you will have to constantly monitor the brand. You can use a free tool like Google Alerts or switch to a paid one which is more powerful.
Seek professional help
Brand reputation is a risky matter and the situation can quickly escalate from a simple issue to a huge disaster for the brand. Therefore, swift reaction is necessary and in case you feel helpless it is only right to ask for a professional advice or seek someone who is adept at handling such crisis situation. While you social media guy can solve a lot of issues, there are times when you will need to hire a specialist. There are many niche internet marketer jobs advertised these days, going by the headline of reputation manager sometimes. These professionals are trained in tackling sticky situations and damage control methods.
However careful you might be, there might be times when reputation crisis is unavoidable. Defining success or the least bad outcome at such times should be the first priority. Some definitions of success might be to get a negative term out of the search engine results or changing customer reviews from negative to positive.
Saurabh Tyagi is a writer, social media enthusiast and a keen watcher of latest job trends. He is currently associated withNaukri.com, a leading onlinerecruitment company in India. When he is not writing, you will find him reading about the latest job trends in Information technology and new media.