Being Your Own Reputation Manager

You've probably heard those radio commercials where they talk about how negative online reviews can damage your small business.  The voice and tone sound pretty intimidating but using these services isn't a must.  In fact, I don't hear these radio ads as often as I used to.  However, there are some freelancers that feel the need to spend their hard-earned revenue on something they can fix themselves.

No one ever wants to read anything bad about their business or work they put into servicing a client.  Whether it's through another person, review site, or testimonial left on an outsourcing profile that others are sure to read.  Companies like Yelp make it where businesses cannot alter or change reviews but this can actually be a good thing because you can manage reviews to work in your favor.

Reputation management comes in many forms and whatever a person chooses to do, the key is to do it quickly.  Offering a discount or comped item, apologizing, or requesting a direct message all have positives and negatives, depending on the factors.  Yet, this is also assuming the client really had a bad experience.

Yep...there are haters.  People you went to school with that have nothing going for them.  Former co-workers (or worse, the boss), someone looking for an insurance payout, or a simply miserable individual who just needs a hug.

Whatever the case, investigating early has its advantages.  The complainer should have the details fresh in their head when confronted and if possible, they can be coerced into deleting or changing the original review.  One word to the wise is to never be on the defensive or accusatory when reaching out.

via Gfycat
One reason is they may be right.  Not long ago, I was confronted by a manager of a retail establishment who was delusional about the professionalism of his people on the floor.  Because I do marketing reviews (aka mystery shopper) as part-time income, I had my facts in order...even after being confronted two months after the incident.  I was able to give a physical description of the person that gave me bad service, along with a time and date.  He still wasn't impressed until I gave him MY description.  By this time, he was going by the store camera and comparing the images.  Let's just say I got my apology but since his words were late and lacked an incentive for return, he lost a customer for good.
If it's just you and you, working fast for a reasonable solution can be exhausting.  Some freelancers often give into giving work or product away just to shut someone up.  This may seem like a sensible solution (and sometimes the ONLY solution to preserving your sanity) but this shouldn't be routine.  Here's why -

  • You'll get a reputation for being a sucker and word will get around that a client can get free work or product with a little intimidation.
  • Since you're not Trader Joe's (who has a very lenient return policy), it'll hit you deep in the pocket eventually,
  • You may be on the right with a little investigation.

One tip that may help is to reserve a day to deal with administrative matters.  This might be your accounting or bookkeeping or time reserved to work on social media visuals.  Have a strategy plan for each possible scenario that could go wrong in your business.  If you're just starting to build a clientele, figure how your actions may hurt your revenue.

In the instance of a negative review, keep a record of any promises to change or delete.  The reason is that if this isn't done within a week, your next course of action will be to go to the site manager.  If they use this as a way to solicit services, you can make a judgment as to whether this is the right move for you.  Some people prefer reputation management software as a way to be in control.  Whatever the choice, it just helps to not be caught off-guard.