When Words Can Hurt You

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Sticks and stones…we all know the old adage. But when it comes to your digital reputation, words are powerful—and negative ones can cause a lot of damage. How can you protect what you’ve worked so hard to build up?

Take control. First, make sure you’ve claimed your business listings on the review sites. The key ones are Google, Yelp, Facebook and Yahoo as well as industry-specific sites like Trip Advisor and Open Table. Once you’ve claimed your business, you can respond within the sites.

Listen to the conversation. It’s critical to know what is being said about your business online. Monitor these sites either manually or through an automated review monitoring service. Some are even free. Setting up a Google Alert so you’re notified of online mentions is a good start.

Respond. Whether reviews are positive or negative, it says a lot about your commitment to customer service when you reply to reviews. Keep it short, sweet and always courteous. Invite unhappy customers to contact you offline. This is not the platform to argue or plead your case.

Tailor your response. The review sites have best-practice guidelines on responding to online criticism. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with them and follow the recommendations.

Use feedback in training. Although criticism is sometimes hard to take, it may point out issues you didn’t know existed. Use what you learn to address problems and train employees.

While you can’t get rid of negative reviews, how you handle them can mitigate their impact. People are impressed when they see your willingness to resolve problems. If a review is patently defamatory and offensive, you can appeal to the review site to have it removed. And if you can build up good reviews, the bad ones get buried. Sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

Laura web smallLaura Tobin is the Vice President of Gallinghouse Marketing + Creative. She is a 25+ year veteran of the ad industry with regional and national experience in marketing. Gallinghouse is located at 409 W. 21st Ave., Covington. For more information call 985-893-7631 or visit gallinghouse.com



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