Managing Your Reputation in the Wake of Negative Reviews

99.9 percent of your home inspection clients are happy as larks, but that one trouble client? They’re causing a raucous online. By Murphy’s Law, the one client who’s unsatisfied with their inspection-whether it’s your fault or not-will inevitably be the one who’s loudest on review forums. While it’s tempting to ignore the internet troll, letting negative reviews slide can severely damage your reputation say the experts. Here’s how to keep your online image squeaky clean.

Head to the Source

If you catch a nasty review online, it may not be from a client at all says Christian Scarborough, president of Inventive Public Relations in Austin, Texas.

“The dramatic expansion of Internet use, coupled with the rise in review sites where people can post pretty much anything about a company, pose new threats to brand and company goodwill,” he says. “Corporate espionage has found a home at these sites too and it is not uncommon to find that the source for many poor reviews, in fact, comes from competitors.”

Before taking action, evaluate where the complaint came from. If you can trace it back to a legitimate client, Scarborough advises inspectors to immediately reach out to the offended party to try to absolve the situation. Remember-the customer is always right. That means no attacking or name calling, but instead staying focused on a way to remedy the situation. Make good and the client might post a follow-up that alleviates the situation.

Address the Public

In addition to reaching out to the offended party, Stephanie Dressler, senior associate with Montieth and Company strategic communications consultancy in New York City, advises businesses to address the problem in the online forum in which the complaint appeared as well.

“This alerts other customers that the business owner is hands-on and aware of each customers’ situation,” she says.

By showing the general public that your inspection service cares about the client experience and is willing to directly address any problems that occur, you can actually come out looking more collected and conscientious than you did before you ever met the client from hell. Keep in mind that negative reviews also tend to find their way onto multiple sites. While you’re busy addressing concerns on one site, do a thorough search to make sure the issue is addressed everywhere else too.

Add Positive History

Once a negative review is out there, you can’t remove it, but you can counterbalance it with positive feedback Dressler adds.

“…the business can ask satisfied customers if they wouldn’t mind writing about their experience on the message board,” she says. “The more positive reviews a company has, the less credible the negative ones will appear.”

Businesses can also bury negative reviews by expanding their online presence. By posting solid blog entries, Twitter and Facebook updates, Youtube videos, customer testimonials and updates to your web page, you can direct search engines to the amazing content you’ve provided in your field rather than to the one client with a bad attitude.

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