By Lalit Sharma
No matter how hard you work to make everyone happy, there will always be people who will talk bad about you. The case is the same online. This is why you cannot opt out of customer identity management. There will come a time when someone will post something that will be geared towards tarnishing your name and if you don’t take the action to rectify this, your business will be affected.
Regardless of the type of business you are in, it is critical that you have a proactive reputation management strategy else you will end up being a sitting duck—an easy target. With just a single website to represent yourself, when someone posts something negative on social media, the negative post might out rank your site on search engine results. This means he will have a louder voice than you. So, what is the secret to effective customer identity management?
Create your presence on all relevant web properties
The more platforms you are on the louder you will be. Therefore, to counter negative reviews and comments, make sure your company is featured on all relevant web properties. A great place to start is on the social networking sites. You should have at least three accounts on leading social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Creating an account on major social networking sites is not the only thing you need to do. To effectively manage your reputation, you have to be active. Today, many companies are hiring a team to manage their social media accounts. If you don’t have the time, do not hesitate to hire a team to help with this task.
Consider both your brands and products
In reputation management, you should not just focus on the affected brands or products. If you deal with more brands and products, you will need to take time to create content for all of them. You may have to create a website or web pages or social media profiles for each of your products or brands. The more vocal you are the more effective your reputation management strategies will be.
Protect individuals that are associated with your company
Your products and services are not the only things you should focus on. You should also consider developing a strong social media presence for the founders, owners or executives that are associated with your business. The truth of the matter is that keeping a low profile to preserve your privacy only leaves you open to defamers.
Customers will often search for the names of the specialists they are about to engage with. Making sure there is an online profile for the main individuals in your company makes it easy for customers to find them. This will instill confidence in your company and subsequently increase conversion.
Do you blog? If you do, you should consider implementing authorship where applicable. For example, after writing a blog, add an author bio at the end. The author bio should not only mention your name but also have a link to your social networking site such as Google+.
By doing this, you make your name more searchable. In addition to that, using the author tag shows you are doing ongoing publishing of blogs or articles.
Blogging is definitely a secret weapon for local SEO and also for customer identity management. Creating a blog for your website will be a great source of inbound links and will also help your website to rank well on search engine results. It is a source of quality keywords and provides quality feeds for your social media accounts. Make sure you share each new blog on your social media profiles.
When it comes to reputation management, blogs offer the best voice for you and your brand. You can use it to respond directly to major assertions made about your business. You can write in first person or third person.
Listen to the negative reviews
The worst mistake you can make is that of responding to a bad review without first listening to what the complaint or review is all about. Responding without paying attention to the review may cause you to look like a fool or even infuriate your customers even more. Listening to the bad comments helps you determine whether there is some truth in the statement.
You need to be flexible. The fact that there are several negative feedbacks on a specific thing simply means there is a problem there. In addition to identifying the problem, come up with a creative way to giving your customers what they really want without creating any friction.
Just because you can pressure your customers to pay more does not mean you should continue doing so. You have to remember that you might be pushing away existing and potential clients to your competitors.
At times, there is some truth in the negative feedback. If your business messes up, you should not be too proud to apologize. At times, the quickest way to solve a problem is to give a genuine apology to the affected customers. This shows you are both real and transparent.
Apologizing will diffuse a swelling situation and pave room for reconciliation. However, if you do apologize, always make sure that the apology you give is authentic. You should also make amends.
Don’t get into arguments, online
Even when dealing with a hard-headed customer online, never take off your gloves. Giving him a piece of your mind will only review your true colors to other customers and this will seriously hurt your business. What is even worse is that you might be wrong.
Always keep your cool when dealing with complaints. The best approach is to take the communication offline and try to reconcile. Even when you don’t have to be, be nicer in all your online interactions.
The aforementioned tips will give you and your business a stronger position when dealing with tarnishing online comments. There are many more strategies you can use but the key is to make sure you handle yourself as professionally as possible.
Lalit Sharma is an SEO consultant who runs a SEO house called Ranking By SEO. He is specialized in link building and other SEO related activities. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+ and his personal blog.