Thursday, May 24, 2012

Monitoring and Refining Your Reputation Online: How NOT to Screw It Up

Monitoring and Refining Your Reputation Online: How NOT to Screw It Up

Sometimes it amazes me that people don't realize how tarnished their
reputation can become in the online world quickly. A very good example is
related to a chain restaurant in my local area that has a wonderful
reputation overall. This particular restaurant is part of a small chain of
Italian eateries that I typically love to frequent. However, the one
closest to my home has a very bad reputation when it comes to customer
service, cleanliness and food.

This restaurant was one of my favorite places to go when I used to work in
a different area of town a lot. I would go to the restaurant, get great
customer service and tons of food for the money. Their food was excellent,
and I always wished that they would open up location near my home. Fast
forward a few years, and I saw the sign going up near my house. I was so
excited because I absolutely love their food and had eaten at several of
their locations over the years.

As soon as they opened up, I went to the restaurant. We didn't get very
good service that night and the food wasn't nearly as tasty as I had
remembered it being. However, I chalked it up to being a new restaurant
that was probably trying to work the kinks out.

Now, the restaurant has been there for about two years. I regularly see my
friends updating their Facebook status saying not to go to the restaurant
because of the terrible customer service. Friend after friend has posted a
status just like this, and I don't have an enormous amount of friends from
my area on my page. That means that many people are probably posting this
and I'm not even seeing those.

Then, today, I received a notification on Facebook from a local newspaper.
I subscribe to their page, and they regularly post the health inspector's
reports for the week prior. I noticed that they had a big headline that
said one restaurant had such a bad inspection that they were forced to shut
down immediately and had their operating license revoked until they got
things cleaned up. You guessed it - it was this restaurant. They got a 46
out of 100.

Now what can we learn about on line reputation from this? This is a great
example of a business potentially going under because they didn't get the
hint from their own customers for over two years. I don't know who's
running this restaurant or whether it's a franchise or company-owned, but I
do know that no one is paying attention at the wheel.

You see, dozens of people that I know personally have posted about how
horrible the service was at this place. I've heard lots of people talk
about how the food doesn't measure up with the other locations in the
chain. People have stopped going there in droves, yet this restaurant
seemed to make no changes. In fact, their health inspection scores have
gone down and down.

Now, their health inspection has been posted on a social media site. What
do you think that's going to do for business?

The lesson in all of this is that business people have to monitor their
reputations online. Whether you are the owner of a chain restaurant or a
small mom-and-pop accounting firm, it really doesn't matter. You need to
monitor what people say about your business online and make the changes
necessary to overcome any negative comments.

What this restaurant should have done is either have a social media
reputation manager in place, or at least periodically Google their own name
and check the various review sites. Then they could have noticed these
customer service complaints early on, and made sure that changes were made
within the restaurant to take care of them. They should have offered
coupons and other discounts to compensate unhappy diners. They should have
made sure that their health reports were top notch as they know they're
being posted each week. They should have had more customer service training
or hired new employees to improve their standards.

There are so many ways to protect your reputation online, but if you're
screwing up in your business it's going to be hard to do. The changes
should start inside your business so that no one has any reason to complain
on social media sites. But, if they do, you should have mechanisms in place
to clear up any misconceptions and repair your reputation immediately.

Dedicated to your success,

Greg Pitstick & Bill Brown

Brought to you by: Lawyer Asad

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