What happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet. When you decide to launch a brand, you inevitably open the door for it to be talked about and discussed online. This can be a blessing and a curse, given your aptitude to properly manage and protect your reputation.
A couple of months back I was having dinner with a friend who was complaining that his business went downhill after he defended himself on an online forum that was criticizing his customer service approach.
The angry customer was badmouthing his company because he wanted to return a used garment past the standard 30-day return policy period. This seemingly insignificant incident escalated into a debate of fairness and quality, and ultimately led to drawing negative attention to the matter.
His company reputation suffered, through no fault of his own.
Although my friend was rightfully angry that a customer had abused his return policy and later spread negative rumors online, he was wrong in starting an argument in a public, Google searchable forum. Any negative attention around your company image, regardless of the truth, can still damage your reputation.
Rule 1: Don’t argue online
Whether you’re right or wrong, you want to display the highest amount of integrity and class in association with your brand. Starting a public argument is embarrassing, and puts you in a defensive position. In addition, any comments you make can and will be used against you in the future by any other potential customers who’ve seen them.
Instead, handle the matter quietly, privately and attempt to please the customer. Displaying chivalry will only make your brand a stronger, more reliable name, and if the customer leaves satisfied, you can be sure they’ll rave about your hospitality to all their friends
Rule 2: Maintain a strong social media presence
If you have a social media presence across several platforms (as you should!), be sure to post and reply to discussions and people’s questions and concerns as soon as you get them. Online comments and inquiries are just as important as those offline, and you should not miss an opportunity to demonstrate your dedication to your business.
Be responsive and polite.
To be sure you’re in line with your brand’s image, first determine your brand persona, and then adapt it in your communications. A young, vibrant company should appear to be so in all its’ online communications, just as a traditional, conservative brand should remain as such.
Remember, your online presence is just as important as your offline presence, if not more so!
Rule 3: Optimize your website
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that your website says a lot about your company. It is your first and most important online impression you are going to make on any potential new customer.
Take good care to pick the most appropriate design for your brand image, and get a web marketing company with a great reputation to help optimize it for you. When you customers can find you online, it makes business a whole a lot easier.
Remember, your online reputation is just as important as your offline reputation and can have a direct impact on your sales and future business opportunities. Optimize your resources and be sure to remain true to your brand image in all communications.
Avoid drawing unnecessary, negative attention to your company and handle all complains by directly contacting an unhappy customer.
Remain true to your company, and your brand.