Some days the Internet seems like the greatest thing to hit the world – and then there are days where it feels like the Internet hit you in the face with the full force of the world behind it. Sooner or later everyone needs a little public relations help. What separates the winners from Charlie Sheen is how they approach their online PR. What it all boils down to is that online PR is the same as PR before the advent of the Internet.
The internet has given power to the public to weigh in on anything and everything. If someone is dissatisfied with the service they received at a restaurant, the odds are it will wind up online. If someone is dealing with an impossible salesperson there is a distinct possibility they may tweet it real time with their mobile device. If a person orders a product and isn’t pleased with it you can bet they will rip it to shreds somewhere online. While consumers may love that, having your brand name being mercilessly shredded can be a real headache. All is not lost though.
Several years ago it was common practice for some webmasters to remove ANY negative posts from wherever they could by any means possible when it came to protecting their brand name. While some succeeded, what usually happened is the disenchanted consumer would begin reposting their rant everywhere. If personal contact was made that was a bit aggressive, you could bet that wound up online as well. In both cases, the webmaster comes off looking like a bigger schmuck than just leaving the negative posts out there – not to mention the expenditure of time and energy.
No one believes everyone that has dealt with a business has had a great experience. When looking at reviews, it is the norm to expect a small percentage will be negative. They may be entertaining to read, but overall they are ignored if they are the minority. What people are looking for is how they are handled. On one hand, it is impressive to see someone confident enough in their product to allow a negative comment or two to remain in place. On the other hand, if it is nearly all negative, you need to consider pulling the entire post and then evaluating the product/service/person that generated so many complaints role in your business.
Then there is the question of when and how to respond to negative comments. There are times when there is nothing you can say or do to make a dissatisfied customer happy, and when you get the feeling that is the case, skip it. When people have rational well laid out complaints however, that is who you want to reach out to. Contact them privately and ask how you can fix things. Be very sincere with your offer, and then follow through to the best of your ability. More often than not, a convert will sing your praises for being so concerned and proactive. The odds are you will get business from them again, and the effort will swing other potential consumers straddling the fence.