Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim did a guest post on Marketing Sherpa in which he details a 7 step process to avoid a public relations nightmare and protect your reputation online.
He mentions that the advantages of a company monitoring their reputation online are many and varied, and include nipping bad PR in the bud, customer likes and dislikes about your company, features to include in your next launch, ways to improve customer service, complaints about your competition and opportunities to move in.
The first step of his 7 step process is, in my opinion, the most important; Perform an honest self-analysis. This means that the current issue you are facing is most likely because of something you or your company did, or a weakness in your company’s processes. Once you can figure out why this happened (without blaming the consumer/customer), the closer you will be to making sure this type of problem with your online reputation does not happen again.
Also, part of step 5, Strategize Responses, is very important, and is often not your first instinct; Offer a genuine apology. In general, people who post negatively online are at their wits end and feel they have no other way to reach people at the company, and they just want to be heard. To be told by a personable company representative that they understand why they are upset, and are offered a genuine apology, you can quickly turn a hostile person into an asset to the company. Once they feel understood, they can often suggest ways this type of problem can be avoided in the future, since they have the best understanding of being a consumer of the company product. An employee of the company understandably does not have the same views of the company and its products, so the consumer viewpoint is extremely valuable.
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