Your Reputation: When Personal Brands Respond for Business Brands

Personal BrandingReputation Management
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The moment you hang your sign that you’re open for business, there will be haters. While these individuals used to be one-time customers that disappeared following the first altercation, the internet has allowed for these toxic individuals to leave scathing reviews in the public’s eye, calling into question your brand. As much as you want to, though, this is not the time to fight fire with fire. They are challenging you to a duel which ultimately boils down to a battle between who is the most mature, and if you respond in any type of immature fashion, others will begin to associate your poor behavior with your brand, ruining its reputation.

Here are the negative pitfalls you should always be on the lookout for.

Answering with Emotion

Many times the first emotion to flash through the mind after reading a negative review is anger followed immediately by defensiveness. Instead of judging any merit the review might have, you are driven wild by all the things you could say back.

If this has happened to you or any of your employees, take a step back. Walk away from the computer. Discuss it with your coworkers. Basically, cool down. There’s a chance the negative review does have some good information but this can only be found if you are able to read it with detached emotions. Even if you don’t agree that your service was poor, they could have found a weakness in the way you deal with customers that provides you the opportunity to take a closer look at your service which can lead to better reviews in the future.

As for the response, keep it professional. Do not resort to calling them names or otherwise using any of the tactics they may have tried to hurt you with. Keep the language emotionless and professional. Apologize if necessary and address the problem in a way that seeks to find a resolution. If you’re lucky, the relationship can be salvaged in front of your online audience.

Deleting Reviews

Do not delete what people have written. Not only are brands without any negative reviews seen as untrustworthy, they are often called out as being inauthentic or whitewashing all issues. By owning the fact that you will make mistakes, you communicate to people that you are sincere and an experienced business ready to fix problems should they arise. Deleting poor reviews will only look suspicious and potentially incite a customer that will not stop posting about how insulted they feel about being ignored.

Nip this problem in the bud by making it company policy to never delete comments unless they are filled with profanity, spam or pornographic references.  Your customers deserve a chance to have their voices heard even if they aren’t singing your praises. As a brand leader, you have to be ready to tackle these responses head on and not disappear because there was conflict. Be the leader you want your company to have. A strong response from you means a strong response from the brand.

Offer Presents

Some brands feel the best way to make up for a bad experience is to offer a refund or send a gift. While this can be a very powerful business tactic, it should never be done in your replies to bad reviews. To many, it comes off as a bribe to get them to calm down. Eventually, more and more people will pick up on the fact that the more they complain, the more free stuff they get. Then, if they don’t get the recompense, they’ll slander your brand even more. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Instead, send the most upset customers a direct email they can reach out to. Most often, the customer won’t email you because they were simply venting their frustration as a way to get attention. Should they write you back, then you can offer them some sort of gift to help make up for whatever experience they had with your brand. You can also bring them in closer and provide them an opportunity to sample any changes that have been implemented from their concern. Sometimes a brand’s most vocal critics can become the most vocal advocates when they feel valued and that their concerns were taken serious and given tremendous merit.  For your personal brand, this provides a great way for you to be seen as a relationship builder and solution provider.

As for what you give, because the matter is now being handled privately, it’s entirely dependent on the situation and what you feel they should have as a peace offering. No matter, it’s a great way to both address the problem online in a serious matter for your brand’s reputation to the masses followed up by your reputation to an individual.