Imagine a situation in which negative reviews and comments are appearing online about you that are vindictive, invalid, unfair, or even simply untrue. That is a situation that many businesses face. It doesn’t mean, however, that you have to panic or throw in the towel believing that your business is now ruined. What you do have to do, however, is learn how you can mitigate the damage as much as possible.
Of course, doing nothing certainly isn’t an option either. Rather, you need to get help from a reputation management expert who will find out just how bad the damage is, and what the best course of action will be.
Three Management Approaches
- Approach the person who left the comment and ask them whether they would be willing to remove it. You can also contact the site owner and ask them to remove the comment, particularly if it is vulgar, threatening, inappropriate or offensive, or if it is very obvious that it is a malicious, vindictive comment. There are some people, known as ‘trolls’, who go out of their way simply to leave negative comments and if a site owner gets enough reports about a single person, their comments may be removed and they may be banned.
- Address the person directly. If you spot the comment very quickly, as you should if you monitor your reputation, then you have the chance to address the issue as well. However, you have to make sure that the response is appropriate, which can be very difficult to achieve. Make sure that, whatever you do, you don’t offer a standard, generic response. This will only inflame the writer more, who is expecting a personal reply. And make sure that there is no emotion in the post, except an apology from your side and a promise to try and resolve the problem.
- Ignore the situation. This is the least recommended option of all, but sometimes it does work. This is particularly true if you already have a very good reputation and your customers will know that the remark is inflammatory. Sometimes, if you address a problem, other people will start to get involved, and it can snowball out of control. Ignoring is a dangerous tactic, however, because your customers may also think that you don’t take them serious. Usually, a good approach is to respond once, asking the person to contact you directly through a private message, and to then not engage any further. Again, however, you should only do this under the guidance of an expert who is likely to know what the response is going to be.
Every situation you face is unique and will require a unique approach. Different strategies exist and each situation will need a different strategy. This is why it is so important to have a reputation management consultant on board who can help you. Don’t look for them once a problem arises, because you need to address is straight away.