How to Boost Your Online Reputation through Transparency
The staff writers at Kiss Metrics have produced a great guide to fixing your online reputation and managing your online reputation once it is fixed. Their ideas have been one of many big inspirations for our work and our blog, especially their Ten Commandments of Online Reputation Management (in the article linked to above).
One of those Ten Commandments is “Be Radically Transparent.” In order to give you a better idea of what that means and how to do it, we’re going to devote today’s post to transparency in business.
What is business transparency?
Transparency in this context essentially means “complete honesty.” It’s called transparency because it allows customers to see what is going on inside your business.
If your business has made some mistakes in the past, you want to face and fix them, instead of pretending that your customers don’t know about them. This means responding to negative reviews without being defensive or angry and truly addressing issues that customers bring up.
How does that help? Won’t it just make my business’ problems more public?
There’s some tricky psychology involved here, but look at it this way: if a potential customer sees a lot of negative reviews on your Facebook or Yelp page, and you haven’t responded to them or made any statement about addressing them, the viewer sees a business that ignores its customers. And if there’s anything you don’t want to be seen as online, that’s it.
This doesn’t mean that you should share all your one-star reviews on your Facebook page. However, if someone posts a negative review in a public forum (such as on Yelp or a social network), respond to it promptly and let them know how you will address the problem. If someone messages you privately to complain, engage with them instead of ignoring them, and see what you can do to help them out.
Often, these tactics can turn a one-star review and a customer who swears he’ll never do business with you again into a five-star review and continued loyalty – possibly for years to come.
But can I really respond to all complaints? Some of them just seem unfair.
Of course, there are customers that either overreact to problems or are simply mean-spirited individuals. When you have complaints like this bringing your online reputation crashing down, its time to hire an experienced marketer and/or take legal action.
However, before you write off a bad review or negative comment as hateful or without reason, step back and ask yourself if there’s anything legitimate in it. Often, there is a problem you can fix – and even if it won’t bring one customer back, it could bring more in the future – people who see you facing your problems like an honorable business owner and doing your best to fix them.