Negative comments happen all the time on the web. How big a problem they become is often not about the complaint itself but the manner in which the targeted business responds. Whenever a negative online attack comes along the first thought is usually to attack back with a vengeance, some attitude, and maybe a disparaging comment about that person’s ancestry. This is especially true if the comment is unfounded.
The Wall Street Journal recently posted an article recently about reputation management and how certain tactics can actually take a situation from bad to worse. In the article a reputation management company named Reputation Defender is criticized for its method of reputation management which centers on reaching out to blogs, websites, and forums that post negative comments.
When people read about online reputation attacks the general assumption is that these attacks come with agendas of laying targeted businesses to ruin. While there are situations where this might be true, these types of attacks are both relatively rare and beyond the scope of the vast majority of people on the web.
In fact, a far more common danger to an online business’ reputation comes in the form of complaints from consumers who are airing their views more to inform their circle of friends and/or influence rather than to lay waste to a business or brand.
These types of complaints are usually very honest in nature and can often come in the form of constructive criticism. Still, many businesses stumble when it comes to the presence of less than glowing reviews. These stumbles generally come in three forms:
1) Ignoring the complaint – Hoping that a negative post will go away on its own is a great way to convey that your business isn’t listening to its customers, doesn’t care, or both.
2) Taking a condescending attitude toward or attacking the person posting the complaint – This is another sure way to look like you’re out of touch while potentially angering far more people than just the one making the complaint.
3) Leaving the door open for complaints to be ranked highly on the search engine results pages – A high ranking complaint about your products/services/brand can get almost as many views as your website’s pages if it ranks high enough – big problem.
These problems can be avoided or minimized first by engaging positively with people who have made a complaint. Letting them know you hear them and appreciate their input will go a long way toward a constructive resolution. Secondly, generating your own content that ranks highly can keep negative content from being seen. Here, a little proactive reputation management can also go a long way toward enforcing a positive perception about your company.