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7 reputation management tips to keep control of your brand

7 reputation management tips to keep control of your brand

Recently a new luxury, 5-star hotel opened its doors to an increasing number of cancelled reservations. After a few weeks, the staff began to query the cancelling parties more carefully in an attempt to uncover the reason for these cancellations. Eventually, they discovered that the cancellations stemmed from a series of very poor reviews written about the hotel on a well-known travel website.

The hotel owner was outraged when he read the reviews as the content was completely inaccurate and the reviews corresponded to dates prior to the hotel’s grand opening. Therefore, the reviews had to be fake, malicious or mistakenly assigned by the website owner. In this case, it was the travel website which had accidentally assigned the reviews to the wrong hotel.

Nevertheless, the damage sustained by the hotel’s international reputation was significant. Many hotel owners are now attempting to sue the website owner over similar negative, unsubstantiated reviews, but is the website really the only one to blame in this scenario?

Reputation management is increasingly vital to the success of your business. Poor word of mouth has always been dangerous, but the Internet has enabled personal opinions and experiences to spread further, faster and with more far-reaching consequences than ever before. In this case, ignorance is not bliss.

The hotel in this example is just one of many real reports of hotel and business operators who have not effectively managed their business’ reputation or ‘brand’ online. Regular checking of travel websites should have enabled the hotel to quickly identify the poor reviews and to deal with them in a professional manner. While we can’t prevent negative reviews from appearing online, it is possible to manage their impact.

Here are 7 tips for managing your reputation online:

  1. Know which websites encourage reviews for your business and regularly check what is being written by using Google Alerts to email you daily or weekly. Tip – If you get too many results which are not relevant use a minus  to filter out the noise results, don’t just stop the alert! E.g. [your company name] -[word you don’t want to appear in the results] -[another word you don’t want to appear];
  2. Respond to reviews promptly – regardless of whether they are positive or negative as this shows you are keen to engage with your customers;
  3. Be courteous and professional even if the review is wrong or highly critical of your business;
  4. Keep the content of your responses personal and tailor them specifically to the concerns raised in the reviews. If you use the same ‘stock standard’ response each time, the reviewers will doubt your sincerity!
  5. Demonstrate any changes you’ve made to address the reviewer’s concerns;
  6. Respect everyone’s privacy by not naming names or including other personally identifiable information; and
  7. Foster goodwill by showing your gratitude towards customers and inviting them back.

In the case of fraudulent or mistakenly assigned reviews, you can also dispute the review with the website owner themselves. In this case though you really need to have evidence supporting your case as these primarily user-driven websites often carry disclaimers that attempt to absolve them of any responsibility for the content posted on their websites.

The key to successful online reputation management is really prompt, professional and respectful engagement with your audience. The reviewers will appreciate the fact that you took their concerns seriously or appreciated their comments and, for everyone else, it shows your business is responsive and keen to offer great service.

If you need more help managing your brand and reputation online you can:

Written by

Adam is a director of UntangleMyWeb. He has 13 years experience in web technology and business transformation at a senior level in the energy and information industry. His key strengths lie in online marketing, project management, strategic planning, technology utilisation, software development and people management.

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