7 Key Threats to Your Business’s Online Reputation
How much importance does the average consumer place on reviews? Do other people’s experiences with your brand affect their decision to part with their hard-earned cash?
The answer to both is a resounding yes.
Believe it or not, a staggering 84 percent of consumers trust online reviewsjust as much as a personal recommendation, and 90 percent read said reviews before even visiting a company (or its website).
If your reviews, feedback and testimonials across the web are negative, you can expect to see a real impact on your bottom line. That’s why managing your online reputation and being aware of the risks is so important.
Here are 7 key threats to your business’s online reputation and how to deal with them.
1. Bad reviews
As we mentioned in our intro, bad reviews have the power to influence a huge portion of consumers.
Failing to deliver the quality of customer experience people expect (or are willing to tolerate in exchange for good products or services) means you could end up amassing a large number of negative reviews — and alienate prospects before they’ve even had an opportunity to try your company for themselves.
Review sites and social media are breeding grounds for views with the power to damage your reputation. Monitoring them and responding to as many as you can is vital, but the best approach is to make it easier for people to leave good reviews instead.
This means evaluating those aspects of your company which appear in complaints again and again. Are your team’s responses too slow? Do you need to hire more agents to accommodate demand? What about trying to improve the quality of your products by switching manufacturers?
Take the time to consider common sources of dissatisfaction and address them ASAP.
2. Management Speaking their Mind
Keeping everyone within your business in check can be difficult, especially those on the top rungs of the ladder.
But it’s essential to avoid any outbursts or unintentional offense, as these can have a lasting impact on the paying public.
For example, American Apparel’s Dov Charney drew negative attention to the brand for some of his comments on delicate matters, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is known for his loose tongue and Abercrombie & Fitch’s Mike Jeffries famously sparked outrage with his views on the type of customers his company wanted to attract.
Your CEO and other high-ranking individuals must be responsible in their behavior: speaking without thinking can leave consumers unwilling to do business with you ever again.
3. Failing to Monitor your Reputation and Address Problems
It’s tempting to focus on running a business and ignoring what people have to say about it online. But this is a major mistake.
Consumers who see negative reviews or posts on social media without any response are likely to assume your company simply doesn’t care. They could see it as a sign of arrogance or an admission of guilt, neither of which does you any favors.
Make sure your online reputation is monitored and steps are taken to improve public perception of your business.
4. Passing the Buck
Never play the blame game in a crisis. Pointing the finger at a complaining customer or trying to throw a third-party under the proverbial bus will do more harm than good.
Businesses should always admit when they’ve made a mistake — either accidentally or by design — and apologize. Action may need to be taken to put things right and maintain your reputation. For example, freebies or discounts would be a fitting response in the case of massive shipping delays or failures.
Consumers value brand transparency more than ever today, especially on social media. Lying or trying to downplay a faux pas could do more harm than you realize.
5. Disgruntled Employees
Not all of your employees will love their job. Some of them may genuinely like it. Others may find it fine for the moment. But others could very well loathe it — and that might make them a threat.
Workers who have been treated poorly, fired without good reason or discriminated against could vent their frustration on social media. Within hours, thousands or even millions of people may discover your brand isn’t all it seems before you’re even aware.
The lesson? Make sure you have practises in place to ensure all employees feel valued, respected and well-compensated for their work. And an open-door policy can encourage them to speak up about problems well before they feel forced to go public.
6. Lack of Control on Social Media
Be careful which employees have access to your social media. One of the key dangers to your online reputation is a worker with bad intentions seizing control of your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Perhaps they want to be fired. Maybe they want to sabotage your business for treating them badly. Or they could even create a post in good faith without realizing how offensive it could be.
Keep tight control of your social media accounts, and update logins regularly to reinforce their security.
7. Others Acting in your Name
Finally, make sure you own all websites related to your brand, products or services directly. If you fail to claim a domain for your company’s exact title, someone else could — and start causing trouble.
They could scam consumers out of money or post distasteful content and cause controversy to harm your reputation. Don’t make it easier for anyone to disrupt your company’s work: invest in the right domains as soon as you can, or approach the current owners to work out a deal. Otherwise, a large part of your online presence will be out of your control.
Failing to consider these 7 key threats to your business’s online reputation is dangerous. Every company, no matter how big or small, depends on a positive image to retain customers and attract new ones. Even global powerhouses can be dealt a serious blow if they overlook this.
Want to discover how our experts can help you build a better online reputation? Just get in touch today!
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