Monday, January 24, 2011

5 Steps to Avoid Negative Posts About Your Business

Before social media, a business could still be successful without being perfect. If customers were left unhappy or unsatisfied, then it was unfortunate but business owners didn’t necessarily lose sleep over it.

With social networking, it’s a completely different ball game now when it comes to customer service. With an endless supply of social media sites at their fingertips, the average (and sometimes spiteful) customer can now post scathing reviews that can easily keep away new customers.

If your business and/or employess fail to perform at your customer’s standards, then people will complain – that’s a given. And unfortunately, it’s a possibility that employees will get fired because of these negative complaints. As the saying goes: hell hath no fury like an ex-employee scorned.

It takes more than a few positive reviews online to effectively combat online negativity. Here are 5 easy steps to keep your online professional reputation intact.

#1 Never ignore complaints. All it takes is one negative tweet to that person’s 700 “friends” to bring an abrupt halt to visitor traffic on your site. And remember, people online feel like they have a cloud of anonymity to hide behind, so they won’t hold back. Respond to complaints immediately and always act professional - don't engage in online battles with customers.

#2 Offer compensation to unsatisfied customers. If conducting business with you was somehow an unpleasant experience, make sure you offer them reparation in the form of a freebie, refund, discount, etc. to encourage their future patronage.

#3 Develop a group of positive, loyal customers that are willing to make positive posts about your business. It might seem like cheating, but they are your real customers who really like your business, so why not?

#4 Send small tokens of appreciation to your more loyal customers who post positive comments. It’s amazing how much people value even the smallest gift when it’s unexpected - and it shows you really appreciate your customers' loyalty to your company.

#5 Make sure your terminated employees receive an exit interview. Sometimes employees just don’t work out and need to be let go. No one is more potentially harmful than an ex-employee when it comes to posting scathing comments. Exit interviews are critical, because it gives that person a chance to clear the air and vent complaints. You don’t want a disgruntled employee airing their grievances in a rash of angry tweets or Facebook posts.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Just one negative post from an angry customer or ex-employee could be your demise. By following these five steps, you’ll always be ten steps ahead of what’s being said about you online.

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Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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