As a small business owner, one of the most frustrating and upsetting aspects of your job is seeing an unfounded negative comment, blog or review about your business. More and more reputations are being ruined with just a few keystrokes. Fact is, your business is more than a job; it is your passion, and negative word-of-mouth can have long-lasting negative effect.

Over the years, the rules of engagement have changed and are in-line with communication issues we face in the new Internet/social age. Blogs and posts are written by “experts-of-the-day” who aren’t journalist or reporters. No fact-checking. No telling the other side. Just lots of pontificating without being held to a standard. Accurate and fair have been replaced by fast and first, with many bloggers and the general public being viewed as reliable sources of information.

Adding to the mix is the ability to forward these musings out to social networks who can spread to theirs and – as the old commercial goes – so on and so on and so on.

So, what can you do? Here are some tips:

  • Encourage an open forum on your website and/or Facebook Page. Showcase testimonials and positive customer experiences.
  • Include information on wanting to solicit positive and negative feedback so you can better your customers’ experiences. Stipulate that all comments that are written in a professional manner (no expletives, etc.) will be accepted.
  • Leave fair criticisms up. Respond openly and honestly. Take a step back and see if you were in the wrong. If so, make it right.
  • Whenever possible, take the specifics offline. Reach out via the phone or e-mail. If you are able to resolve, ask your customer to say so online.
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