My editorial on Internet reputation generated a lot of requests for guidance on how to protect one's business reputation online. The truth is, protecting the reputation of your business online is not easy. Rumours spread fast and once out...
My editorial on Internet reputation generated a lot of requests for guidance on how to protect one’s business reputation online.
The truth is, protecting the reputation of your business online is not easy. Rumours spread fast and once out there, they are difficult to put down. That is what Toyota is experiencing right now. No matter how many studies and investigations are made, there will always be someone who will challenge the findings and continue to spread false and misleading information. Even Shakespeare is not immune. A new film peddles the long-discredited theory that Shakespeare’s plays are, in fact, the work of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Shakespeare was either a pseudonym used by the Earl or he employed an illiterate player to be credited with his works. No amount of scholarly and historical evidence for Shakespeare’s existence and his authoring of the plays can dissuade some; not just gullible film makers, but such persons as Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud and a couple of U.S. Supreme Court Justices have fallen for the Oxford thesis.
So how can you go about protecting yourself? First, if you have a Web site and you invite customer comments, you must have someone amongst your staff to review those comments. If there is a negative comment, don’t delete it. Find out who made the comment and contact them. Find out why they took to a forum to bring a criticism about your staff’s work or service instead of coming to the manager, owner or service writer directly. You may find that customer felt intimidated by the staff or the cost of the work to go to someone directly with their concerns or questions. Vehicle repairs can be stressful to some and an anonymous forum posting is their way of overcoming that stress. Taking time to reach out to that vehicle owner and answering their questions will go along way to building your online reputation.
Do regular Google searches to see if your shop comes up on other review sites or blogs. Find out what they are saying about your staff and service. If comments are negative – and this is critical – do not go and post nasty comments back or get enticed into an online flame war. It is easy to react aggressively online to unwarranted, rude or close-to-slanderous comments. That will only fuel speculation amongst some that you are not to be trusted or reinforce negative perceptions about your business. If there are negative comments being made, find out why: are the comments by a former customer or is the someone repeating what they have read elsewhere on the Internet? Whatever the case, you must be patient and try to answer the concerns in an open and friendly manner. That attitude will pay off as people see you are serious about investigating what people are saying about your business.
In the end, you may find that nothing really can stop someone who has made it their mission to attack you online. In that case, your only course of action is to try to make others understand that this is one customer and their opinion does not reflect against all the others who have experienced excellent service at your shop. Use positive online customer comments as part of your proactive approach to dealing with concerns and to build your online reputation. Know that you will never convince everyone. Just don’t let that one comment go unchallenged for too long.
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