by Bruce Brown – special to bizNEVADA
Maintaining a good reputation and especially reputation rehabilitation is a challenge for the U.S. for businesses in 2018. Yelp.com, YP.com, Google Business, and other similar websites can make or break a company. Unethical competitors, angry customers, and others with legitimate complaints can harm a business, hurt profits, even put a business out of business unfairly. And yes, the same result can happen because of legitimate poor customer service when a business owner or employee might be having a bad day.
Uber is an excellent example. I won’t go into the security breach, alleged illegal activities, and sexual harassment suits. However, just do a search for, “Uber government fines and fraud,” and see what shows up. Uber had to do some serious costly reputation rehabilitation. And it worked. Today, if you search simply, “Uber” the scandalous information is now at the bottom of the first page or even on page two. Statistically, only about 20% of people go to page two when conducting a search. So, what can you learn from Uber if you are a small business owner? Trust me, a lot!
The following are some rules of thumb when it comes to keeping your reputation intact BEFORE anything really bad happens to hurt it.
Protecting the Reputation of Your Business
- Give someone the job (who understands exactly what to do) to keep track of your social media as well as the most important online business directories such as Yelp.com, Google Business, YP.com (a more complete list is in my free report mentioned in my article in last month’s issue of BizNEVADA). You can also do the research yourself if YOU have time and know where to look and what to do. You could also hire a skilled company to keep track of your reviews and help you fix them in a timely fashion if things go badly.
- If you get a poor review, most of the time you can contact the person who made the negative posting. If you can answer their negative comments publicly on the review site itself all the better. Say you are sorry and offer to give them a customer service solution that seems reasonable. Maybe their money back, something free or guarantee you will also talk to the “bad” employee. Let them know you are the owner, sales director or manager who has the power to make it right, so to speak. Request that they contact you directly so you can fix it. It is seldom a good idea to ignore the posting. That generally leads to bad ratings/rankings and even “copy-cat,” bad review posters. If that happens, you can create a snowball effect dropping your review rankings into the basement.
If the Problem Seems Insurmountable
One method that can often work (although it may be against the rules of the online business directory and they may penalize if they can prove or believe you did it) is to “bury” the bad reviews with good reviews. By the way, if your complaint(s) are because of legitimate poor service and you refuse to fix the problem this method will generally not work because you will continue to receive poor reviews.
Some business owners use different customers/clients to place legitimate reviews by asking, begging or bribing for reviews. Some use reviews from family and friends. I cannot recommend using any of these “sneaky” fix it ideas…contained in this article. If you are discovered by the specific review site using “sneaky” methods they may temporarily or permanently suspend your business profile. If that happens, this problem can often be reversed by paying the business profile company “advertising money” to get your profile posting back and up and “straightened out” completely with even some poor reviews deleted.
If you do not have the time for any of this and you suspect or are certain that your poor ratings are losing you business…your only recourse may be hiring a professional company with reputation enhancement/reputation skills. A good company will not be cheap but they will use a multi-pronged approach that could include: a positive press release perhaps even a PR/Publicity campaign, a SEO (search engine optimization campaign) to improve what customers will find out about you online, doing a PPC (pay per click advertising campaign), a cleverly created social media campaign, and more.
The whole topic of building, keeping and fixing a business reputation is much more extensive than what I have been able to cover in this hopefully helpful article. Under a special arrangement with the publishers of BizNEVADA, I have agreed to offer a free 15-minute no obligation phone consultation to readers. This is a limited time offer and may be withdrawn at any time. You can call to set up a day and time here: 1-800-982-5007. Be sure to mention you are a BizNEVADA reader to take advantage of this free offer. Have a positive business month.
Bruce Brown has had his own successful small businesses and is the author of four how-to books. He helps business owners to start and/or grow their business(s) (even B2B’s), with services and consulting. But he also shows business owners and executives how writing a book can help position them as, “experts in their field.” He can be reached at: 1-(800) 982-5007 anytime.www.brownmarketingconsulting.comand www.yourpublishedbook.com