One huge risk factor that many small businesses fail to address adequately is the potential harm that can be done by a disgruntled customer or less than stellar online review or comment.
If not addressed forcefully, and immediately, these negative comments can lead to the damage of your brand’s reputation. You have worked hard to establish your small business and have worked even harder to keep your standards high. However, in today’s highly wired together business world, a negative perception can quickly go viral and may be unstoppable unless to tend to it as soon as it happens.
One of the greatest challenges today is the fact that many of the comments and reviews are anonymous. Because of this ability to shield themselves, many commentators can just be malicious trouble makers. Having someone, or even a team, dedicated to this severe risk, is one way you can assure that your reputation will remain intact.
The true importance of social media today is not to keep up with your friends and their silly self important diatribes and comings and goings. Your social media presence should be highly integrated with your overall marketing strategy. Your social media exists only to drive traffic to your website and your website exists solely to convert that traffic into sales.
You ignore these bad reviews and comments at the risk of losing your reputation. Once that goes, you might as well close up the shop. You must forever be out there bolstering your reputation, especially online at your social media. That is what it is there for. It is as much about risk and reputation management as it is about driving sales. When a negative comment pops up, address it immediately. Engage with that anonymous writer. Often times, with skill and dexterity, a negative review can actually be turned into a positive review and a happy future customer.
Many companies are now beginning to evaluate and rate their customers and clients. They have begun to put those customers on notice. Troublesome and inconsiderate customers are being let go. Yes, companies are actually firing certain customers to lower their risk regarding reputation damage. It seems the customer isn’t always right.
Others are starting to install certain ID software at their websites and social media platforms. It requires anyone who wishes to post a comment to properly identify themselves which also requires a link to their own social media profiles be it their Facebook page or their profile at LinkdIn.
Businesses are beginning to mitigate the risk to their reputations by taking an immediate and proactive approach to the problem. Having a dedicated individual or team concerned only with reputation management has now become good risk management.
-Written by Kevin Sawyer