Take actionThey say time heals most wounds, but that’s not true in the case of online complaints.  They can be like viruses, spreading from one reader, who passes it to their contacts – a viral epidemic, rotting away at your hard earned reputation.

In part 1 of this series, we mentioned ways to keep track of your company’s online reputation, and initial steps to handling the situation.  In this section, we’ll go more in depth regarding response methods and way repair any damage.

Find out more and respond for all to see

If you are able to find out who the complaint owner is, talk to anyone in your company who worked on that particular project to find out what went wrong (in a timely manner), or check notes under the customer account in your kitchen management software program.  Don’t let this comment sit for long without taking action, because every moment it sits there, is an opportunity for more eyes to graze it.

“Owning the issue and inviting them to discuss in a mature fashion will let any readers know that you’re serious…”

Perhaps there is a perfectly logical explanation where a well-thought out response is in order.  Was this complaint simply due to a misunderstanding in contract terms?  Did the customer agree to one kitchen design detail only to change their mind at the last minute?  Or perhaps one decision maker didn’t have all of the facts, and blindly agreed, but then were unhappy with the outcome – to no fault of your own.

Once you find out the facts and think through your response, you’re free to speak up.  If it’s a project you’re unfamiliar with, let the unhappy customer know who you are as a representative of the company, and that you’re sorry to hear they had an unsatisfactory experience.  Invite them to contact you directly by leaving them your contact information so that you can find out more to ensure steps are taken to right the wrong.  Owning the issue and inviting them to discuss in a mature fashion will let any readers know that you’re serious about your reputation and you’ll take the extra steps needed to right any wrongs.

Ask happy customers to for positive reviews

If you want something, sometimes the best way to get it is to ask for it.  Consumers don’t typically take the time to write a review unless it was a negative experience.  This can make your company appear negligent if you don’t take steps to build your positive reputation.  If you want positive reviews, ask your happy customers to take the time to write about their experience.

Sometimes we can learn things from other industries – for instance, it’s not uncommon to visit a hair salon who offers discounts for positive reviews.  While you may not want to offer discounts on kitchen and bath products, you can give something in return, such as a token Starbucks giftcard, or letting them know their name will be entered into a raffle to win something at the end of the month.

Most customers who have had a positive experience will write a positive review willingly, even if there is nothing else in it for them.  Asking for this information shouldn’t feel weird or uncomfortable.  The customer will understand that you’re simply trying to build your reputation, and they will gladly help if they’re able.

Extra things to think about

Make sure you don’t ever hide behind a fake persona, pretending to be a happy customer or anyone other than yourself.  Not only is that dishonest, but people will eventually see right through it.  Also, make sure responses made by anyone else in the company are first run past management, to avoid more harm to foul.  If reviews are made regarding a specific kitchen designer or customer service rep, address that individual personally and let them know steps are being taken to handle the situation.  Also, note that they may have done everything in their power to keep the customer happy; just because their name was mentioned online doesn’t mean they were in the wrong.

When you take proper steps to maintain your online reputation, you’re taking steps to better your business as a whole.  Any readers who come across your reviews should come away from it knowing that you went the extra mile to understand what went wrong; and they may drive the extra distance to receive that kind of customer service as your future customer.