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Let’s face it. Sometimes we make mistakes in the event industry – whether an order gets lost in the shuffle or inventory gets double booked to be rented out – it happens because we’re human and mistakes happen. What we can also encounter… is the irrational bride or angry bride who regardless of what does or does not happen is going to make your life difficult. This post is to help those caterers, event rental companies and event venue companies protect their online reputation should a situation occur where your business is facing some harsh criticism – warranted or not.
1. Make sure your website is up to date and that you’re continually updating it
You are directly responsible for your own business’ brand identity and your website is one of the first places a potential prospect or customer will look. Making sure your website is up to date helps to legitimize your brand and your company. Blogging also helps in this regard as it helps position your company as a thought leader and “authority” on your industry. It also helps ensure you’re driving traffic to your website and creating positive content for the search engines. Not only that but it helps to create shareable content you can use on your social media sites. A little social media every day can help negate the angry reviews. Neil Patel, founder of KISSMetrics and Crazy Egg noted in a Forbes article on tips for creating a positive online reputation “’If there’s negative information out there, you need to participate in all the social sites.’ That consistent content will come up when your name is searched and will help inoculate you against any negative content that might be out there or might arise in the future (a blog post by an angry ex, or a diatribe from an angry customer).”
2. Invest (time and in some cases money) in Monitoring – Social Media and the entire web
Monitoring the entire web is a great way to ensure you’re keeping up with not only your industry but any positive and negative reviews that could bolster or hinder your online reputation. Google Alerts is a fantastic way to monitor the web, and determine what sites are linking to you, quoting you, supporting you or complaining about you. Hint – it can also be used to track your competitors. I have a google alert set up for “National Event Supply” (including the quotation marks so it doesn’t send me news on articles that include the words National or Event or Supply) so I can monitor any mentions. To create a google alert, check out this thorough blog post.
Along with monitoring the entire web, you should also be monitoring your social media mentions. Hootsuite is one of the best free monitoring tools out there if you want to monitor 3 social profiles (there’s also two paid versions as well). It allows you to schedule your social media messages, and monitor your mentions across those 3 social media platforms. If you’re just on Twitter, TweetDeck is a good monitoring tool as well.
3. Consider along with your own brand content, adopting a positive referrals program
Creating a positive referrals program is another way to protect your online reputation. Not only do referral customers come at a much lower cost than traditional customers, they also have a higher tendency for maintaining loyalty and are easier to retain. Having a group of brand evangelists out in the market singing your praises helps maintain a solid positive brand reputation. Check out HubSpot’s blog post on how to build a customer referral program if you’re interested in learning more.
4. Set up your Defence
Dr. Chris Anderson of Cyber Investigation Services (CIS) suggested to Forbes there are different ways of reacting to negative online reviews including: Doing nothing, crafting a polished written response, trying to resolve the issue with the poster, asking the website to step in, identifying an anonymous poster, using legal letters to threaten the poster and filing a lawsuit to seek damages and force removable. It’s a weighty issue because if you or a member of your team reacts badly to the negative attention, things can quickly spiral. The first thing I suggest is take a deep breath. Listening to the customer and trying to understand their issue is the second step to dealing with the customer. In terms of an online review or mention, responding to the customer is a must – but with a carefully thought out response. Consider in advance of a situation occurring brainstorming with your customer service team potential issues that could occur and jotting down responses. The Young Entrepreneur Council has a great post on 17 ways to deal with unhappy customers that should give you more defence moves to use.
5. Learn from Any Mistakes
This goes without saying but it’s so easy in this fast paced industry to forget to learn the lesson associated with the mistake. I’m of the firm belief that a lesson will keep repeating itself until it’s learned so really taking pause to examine how the issue could be avoided or circumvented in the future can go a long way to tactfully maintaining your brand reputation.