Lets pretend for a moment that this statement was actually directed at you, and that "you" and "your business" were specifically mentioned by name. Now imagine that this was published on the internet, on review sites, forums and blogs, shared on Facebook, Twitter and the like, and that this statement is now the first result a potential customer would find if they Google'd your name or the name of your business. That wouldn't be good at all, would it? Luckily this is not likely to happen to an honest person or reputable business, right? Wrong. And worse yet, research has shown that it doesn't take anywhere near as negative a comment or as widespread its dissemination to turn a prospective customer away. Whether you like it or not, your customers are talking about you in one way or another, whether praising you or lambasting you for the quality of your products or service, and prospective customers today are more likely to base their decision to deal with you on the comments and ratings of other people.
Why Reputation Management?
In general terms, reputation management involves actively monitoring, constantly assessing and positively influencing the reputation of a business (or a brand) or person. Online reputation management for businesses and individuals is a relatively new field of expertise, but it is fast becoming one of the most sought after services in the Internet age because it enables one to:
- Know about any content or comments mentioning one's company, brand or oneself,
- Get early warning of escalating customer issues before they become reputational hazards,
- Be, and be perceived as being, effective and involved in responding to negativity,
- Promote favorable content above adverse content and have negative comments obscured or removed,
- Strengthen existing brand visibilty and reputation by thoughtfully generating engaging, positive web content that also benefits inbound marketing, increases traffic and improves search engine optimization.
Intertel's handles all aspects of online reputation which can generally be categorized as reputation building, reputation monitoring and reputation recovery.
We will tailor a unique reputation management package based on a comprehensive assessment of your situation, requirements, expectations and budget. In addition, we can provide key role-players in your business with the knowledge, training and tools necessary to implement and manage an ongoing in-house reputation management program.
- Reputation Building
Building a solid reputation, credibility and the perceived trustworthiness of a new business online or enhancing the reputation, credibility and perceived trustworthiness of an existing business that has an online presence.
- Reputation Monitoring
Actively monitoring the reputation of a business and providing immediate notifications of new comments, reviews, articles, posts, mentions or shares that reference the business, its stakeholders, or brands.
- Reputation Recovery
Effectively mitigating or repairing reputational damage caused by, for example, bad reviews by a dissatisfied or vindictive customer, negative comments made by a disgruntled current or ex-employee, or a competitor.
Tough Customers, Unreasonable People, Haters and Smear Campaigns
No matter how well intentioned your staff are, or how organized your business is, mistakes are inevitable, and even when there is nothing apparently wrong, not all customers will always be 100% satisfied. When you're dealing with reasonable, rational people, most issues can be handled with a personal, sincere response and immediate remedial action. This should, at the very least leave the customer feeling satisfied that you care and that you're prepared to make things right.
The thing is that many customers will not immediately make their grievances known. Some may prefer to discuss the matter with friends or relatives before bringing it to your attention, others may not say a word to you at all - for any number of reasons. Some people say nothing to avoid confrontation at all costs while others may be mum because they're planning something more vindictive. Besides that, one may be dealing with a customer that is not at all reasonable or rational. One tweet, one facebook status update or one short comment on a web page is all it takes, and what took a few cents and a few minutes to create will not be that cheap or quick to remove.
Organized reputational harm done by a vindictive customer, disgruntled (ex-)employee or a competitor can be extensive and devastating - you could find page after page of believable (but false) complaints, damaging comments and harmful fabrications in the most popular and trusted online spaces. The scariest part is that something like this can be done at relatively little cost, in a very short space of time, and from anywhere. A coordinated smear campaign by a someone that is motivated and fairly aufait with social media could go viral and global within hours.