Protecting Your Reputation

From today’s Startup Journal (Wall Street Journal’s Center for Entrepreneurs), Sarah E. Needleman offers some tips on protecting your business from attacks on the web.  Since anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can become an on-line author, businesses, especially small businesses are easy targets for angry or malicious attacks.

Disgruntled customers tend to be the worst offenders.  Maybe they bought something that doesn’t work.  Maybe they felt like they weren’t treated fairly.  For whatever reason, they decide to bad-mouth you and your business.  If you become the target of an on-line attack, Needleman offers five tips:

1.  Review the situation carefully before you do anything.  Be calm.  Don’t do anything that might make the situation worse.

2.  Sometimes it’s best to do nothing.  If you’re dealing with a personal vendetta, if it’s an isolated incident, if the claims are so outrageous that no one is likely to believe them, if it doesn’t seriously affect your business, or if the issue is minor, you may be better off to just let the matter die. 

3.  If the information is false, correct it right away.  Contact the person responsible and do your best to straighten out the misunderstanding. 

4.  Give your customers a way to contact you directly.  They may just want to vent.  It’s better for them to vent directly to you than in a public forum.

5.  Be aware of what’s being said about you.  Google your business name at least once a month to see what’s out there.  You might just find some good things, too.

6.  (The article says 5, but it’s always better to under promise and over deliver.)  Sue the %$@#!  But that’s a last resort.  It’s expensive.  It’s time consuming.  And, it could backfire by generating more on-line attacks.

Of course, the number one way to avoid the problem in the first place is to always do whatever it takes to make your customers loyal fans and not angry critics.

Be sure to check out the side bar article Restaurateur Fights Online Mudslinging for one man’s experience.


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