One challenging aspect of handling a business is that, no matter how many positive reviews it gets from other clients, there will always be dissatisfied customers. And in the internet age, where most consumers do their shopping online, all businesses – whether big or small – are likely to receive negative feedback from these customers through various online platforms, including social networking sites, message boards, and blog sites.
Negative comments that show up on the first page of search engine results can be disproportionately damaging to a business. The business’ reputation gets tarnished as a result, even if it provides top-notch service. Such cases call for immediate and efficient crisis management.
Small and large businesses may handle crisis management differently, but one thing is certain: Nowadays, businesses take advantage of the power of social media to address negative feedback while managing their online reputation. This proves to be very useful; any kind of crisis spreads like wildfire online, and businesses can easily gather information (through posted content) about their online reputation, as well as that of their competitors.
In addressing negative feedback, business journalist Christopher Null notes that there isn’t a definite solution for this, since the approach depends on where the feedback is posted.
Company-owned Sites or Accounts
Since the company is in control of these assets, it can always delete negative, damaging comments. However, doing so might turn off others who see this as a violation of free speech. A better option than deleting negative comments is to suppress them beneath positive updates or posts related to the company’s products and services.
Another way is by directly contacting the commenter, especially if he or she seems to be willing to “engage in a mature debate.” By doing so, the commenter – and all those who read the exchange – knows that the company is willing to resolve the problem.
Null goes on to note that third-party websites, such as Yelp, Amazon, and eBay, make it tough for businesses to protect their online reputation because the primary goal of these sites is to provide consumers with an avenue to express their opinions – positive or negative – about a certain business. As a rule, businesses shouldn’t respond to nasty comments in order to avoid blowing an issue out of proportion; only consider responding to comments that are within reason. Additionally, businesses could choose to send a thank-you note to customers who provide good or honest feedback.
Businesses have to accept that they have no control over the kind of feedback they receive from customers. What they have control over is how they address feedback, which defines the kind of business that they are.
TAGS: crisis management, social media, negative feedback