How to Prepare for Risks to Your Online Reputation

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At a time when tweets and online reviews are way too familiar, your online reputation is more vulnerable than ever. A negative online review or a scathing tweet is bad enough for a large corporation, but for a small business, it can be fatal. According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 25 percent of a business’s brand value is attributable to its online reputation.

Many online reputation threats are beyond the control of the businesses they impact. According to a recent study of 300 global brands, businesses are dedicating more resources to online reputation threat management. Nearly 57 percent of respondents say they are spending more time and attention to online reputation threats.

The majority of online reputation threats can be predicted, but only if you know what to look for. Here are the top online reputation risks that should be noted by marketers in every organization.

Defamatory reviews and comments

Pleasing every customer is impossible. No matter what you do or change, you will always have critics. There will still be a customer who is dissatisfied with your customer service, or someone who does not find your products and services up to the mark. A less than positive review is bound to happen, but the way you react to a negative review will play a major role in establishing how your customers perceive you. A negative review will put anyone on the defensive, but it is critical to stay offline if you are feeling worked up. Responding to a negative comment with a scathing comment is only going to create more damage. Instead of defensively attacking, try to see where the reviewer is coming from and, most importantly, how you can address the problem. Other online visitors will see that you took the necessary steps to protect your reputation without noticing the details of the problem.

Customer complaints going viral

As reputation management and customer service increasingly overlap, the goals of both must be aligned. The good news is that “viral” customer feedback works both ways. Customer service representatives should be incentivized not by volume of complaints handled but by the number of complaints they resolve to the satisfaction of customers. The rule is to answer promptly, avoid rude behavior and support customers as much as possible.

A repressive organizational culture

Regardless of the nature of the online reputation threat, a transparent organizational culture can minimize it, and a repressive one will make it worse. How a business treats its customers who report problems that threaten brand reputation is at the heart of its culture. A business that focuses on ethical behavior and transparency will be better-equipped to identify online reputation threats before they flare up.

Providing poor customer experience

If you know who your customers are and what they expect from your business, you will be better-positioned to deliver on your promises. In addition, every positive interaction will help you build trust. Personalization is one the most powerful ways to win consumer confidence. According to Accenture, 60 percent of customers trust businesses that use data to create personalized experiences and delivery options.

Not controlling your online content

Businesses tend to get into trouble on social media for publishing offensive or inappropriate content. It is important to have an authorization step in your content publishing strategy where senior management approves posts and updates before publication. Keep your login details safe and secure from misuse by disgruntled employees.

Ignoring customer problems

Always respond to customers promptly and attentively. When a customer posts a complaint about your product or service, other potential customers are watching. If you are unresponsive and absent, they will be wondering if things are all right. Instead of disappearing, engage the upset customer in an online or offline conversation. You can turn the negative feedback into a customer service opportunity by being present and showing that you care.

Establishing trust with your customers will not only help your reputation but could make the difference between your success and failure. Delivering on your promise is essential, but in today’s digital culture, a gap between promise and delivery can be fatal to your reputation. Taking steps to predict potential threats to your reputation will demonstrate that your business is honest and worthy of your customers’ time and money.

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