The Importance of Transparency to your Online Reputation6 min read

If you are on Twitter or other Social Media very often, you have probably heard the story of the Hotel Owner for the Union Street Guest House.  Essentially, they had a reservation policy on their website stating that if a wedding party had their reception there and someone from their guest list left a negative review, they would lose $500 from their deposit for EACH negative review.

 

At this point, the owner of the hotel has apologized and tried to claim that it was just a joke that was never enforced.  However, Mashable found a Yelp review from last fall complaining about an e-mail a customer of the hotel received after leaving a negative review, telling the wedding guest that the bride and groom would be charged $500 from their deposit due to this person’s negative review, unless it was removed.

 

Obviously, the original policy as well as the clearly untrue response that it was a joke, were very poorly received and quickly became an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons.  This incident is a perfect example of both how important your online reputation is and also why you need to be transparent and honest when responding to customers on review sites.  Here is what we can learn from this situation.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TRANSPARENCY TO YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION

Do it right from the beginning

It’s always better to get your Reputation Management strategy in place as early as possible.  Don’t wait until something like this happens to try to adjust and recover from it, as it will cost you a great deal more money in the long run.  Get a professional partner, if you aren’t experienced in the Digital Reputation Management space that can help you navigate the pitfalls that you will face.

 

Your online reputation is the first thing people see when they search for your business, so it cannot be overstated how important it is to keep that in mind when creating policies regarding customer interactions.

Don’t try to control people’s opinions

Your goal with Reputation Management shouldn’t be to control or even influence your customers’ opinions in any way besides just giving them a great product and/or great service.  You want your customers to leave honest reviews about your business because they will help you see areas for improvement.

 

By responding to all feedback (positive and negative) you can show your intent to make sure your customers are treated right.  You also give personality to a business entity that otherwise might seem more like a heartless money making machine.  By simply caring about your customers and the experience they have with your business, you can encourage them to leave a positive review.

Incentivize, don’t punish

If you always hear from your customers how much they love you or your products/services, but you don’t ever receive any online reviews, you can give customers a reason to leave them.  Always be aware though that if you do this you have to incentivize whether it is a positive or negative review.

 

Unlike the hotel above, you should never try to “punish” customers for leaving a negative review.  As you can see from that example, customers don’t reply well to it.  Another thing you shouldn’t do is remove negative reviews.  People are more likely to trust the legitimacy of a review site if your score isn’t perfect.

 

Make sure you understand what you are doing or have a partner that knows Reputation Management as soon as possible for your business.  Provide the best product and service you can for all of your customers so they WANT to go out and leave a review about you.  Finally, once they love you give them some benefit for simply sharing their opinion on the sites you want to increase your review count.

 

If you follow these few simple steps, you will be able to successfully grow your brand’s reputation online, which leads to more money, more success and happier customers.

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