Small businesses frequently complain about all the social media sites and online accounts they maintain. The problem is this: If you don’t control your reputation online, your critics will.
“One of the biggest challenges I have seen in prior businesses, over about a 30-year career, is managing the online reputation on so many different platforms,” explains Greg Dawson of PRO-formance Property Management Group. “Back in the old days, a business had only the local BBB to work with, and customer concerns were managed fairly easily. For its members, the BBB would send you a notice in the mail and you would then contact the customer and work things out. Even if the customer was still not satisfied after this, the BBB recognized your effort in attempting to work it out and your BBB rating remained good.”
Greg correctly describes the Internet era as the “ability of anyone, anytime to mostly anonymously say whatever they want online about your business.”
He makes an important point. Not setting up a Yelp or Facebook page doesn’t stop people from talking about you. In fact, by not engaging customers directly, you’re letting them say nasty things behind your back without any opportunity to respond.
Customers will always be miffed about this or that. Yet most human beings simply aren’t good at direct confrontation, so they hide behind their computers and snipe anonymously. If you don’t respond (and they expect you to be paying attention), then their anger becomes louder and more public.
Thus the key to managing your reputation is knowing how to manage that venting and prevent a larger explosion. Setting up social media and online accounts allows customers to voice their complaints — and then get them addressed. Ironically, by quickly and politely resolving the issue, you come off as the hero. Thousands of other viewers (people you had no idea were watching) now see that you actually care about your customers and will do your best to help them.