Even the best companies in the world with the best customer support are will have few disgruntled customers. It doesn’t seem fair that such a small percentage of customers should get so much attention with negative reviews online. Unfortunately, that is the reality of the internet and the online world.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. There are some preventative measures that can be made  ahead of time in order to make sure that the negative reviews don’t get as much exposure.



PR nightmares and reputation issues are 1,000 times more difficult to deal with if you are in a reactive versus a proactive position. Hopefully you aren’t dealing with a crisis, so now is the time to act! Ready to grab the bull by the horns? Here we go!

1. Listen to your audience

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”- Epictetus.

The first step is to listen to your current customers. What are are their issues? What do they like about your company or product? There are helpful tools that are out there in order to listen to what people are saying about you. Hootsuite and socialmention.com are great tools that you can use in order to monitor what people are saying. If there an issue, deal with it right away and show other people that you are working to resolve the situation with the customer.

2. Practice Great Customer Service and Be Easily Accessible

Reputation issues can build when someone can’t get the help that they need. If the customer is not getting a response in a timely manner, they will sit and stew in their own frustration and get even angrier. Dealing with problems sooner rather than later will help deal with small issues before they become massive problems. Designing a customer service process will also allow you to improve on your weaknesses as well as show your customers that you strive for excellence. Getsatisfaction.com is a great tool that you can implement with your team.

3. Deal with complaints head on

When working with your customers, you’re going to get negative feedback. This is inevitable, but how you handle it is what is going to count. When someone says something negative, address it right away and respond to the negative comments. Put your best foot forward, but also practice patience. If they are really upset, don’t fight back and get defensive. Ask to collect their contact information so that you can take the conversation offline and also work towards a resolution easier. This will also show your followers that you are willing to help your customers.

4. Follow up

This applies for ALL customers whether or not they were upset or happy. Usually, the people that are satisfied are really busy and won’t go out of their way to leave a positive review. However, that doesn’t mean that they are opposed to it! Set up a follow up system whether it is through a CRM tool or good old fashioned email. People will like to see that you care about their experience and that you want to ensure that they are happy. Let them know that you appreciate feedback and that they can leave a review on your channels.

Believe it or not, your customers that have problems can help you grow your business or product. Even though they are angry or difficult to work with, practice patience and listen to what they have to say. Often times they can help point out inefficiencies or problems that need to be addressed. Take that valuable feedback and make adjustments within your company. Both your customers and your business will thank you for it!

7 thoughts on “Preventing Reputation Problems Before They Arise

  1. jasmine@elevated.com

    Great advice.
    I’m not sure if there is such a thing as “100% satisfied” since, as you say, a few disgruntled customers are inevitable, but handling these encounters as they happen and being genuine with customers/clients is always a good route to take.

    I just recently read this article on LinkedIn of how one CEO tackled hundreds of upset customers by owning up to the company’s mistakes and mishaps. Spoiler alert: It has a happy ending.

  2. Cameron Davis

    I’m glad you took this position in this – rather than soapboxing of intricacies of an Online Rep Management campaign. There are so many times I have talked to potential clients who have every excuse in the book for the bad reviews they’ve received… sometimes I just want to wring their neck and say, “How bout you stop _______ (whatever) and getting people ticked off!”

    But, short of that, having spend 20 years in restaurant management, I can share some helpful phrases that go a LONG way: “I’m sorry” and “What can I do to make it better?” You’d be amazed at how far a sincere apology and resolution attempt go.

  3. Ricardo Figueiredo

    The old saying “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” is a real world phenomena, and businesses must break that cycle to get ahead of potential problems, including reputation problems.

    Great post Jared, some good freebies here everyone should walk away with.

  4. David Throop

    Great stuff, and you could point these tips to most industries. As Cameron Davis said, sometimes a simple apology may be a great way to minimize an unhappy client. Building on that idea – especially in a service industry – do you suggest offering a special deal, offer, or product that may make an unhappy customer to a loyal follower?

    For example, in the restaurant industry, if a customer is unhappy, and an apology isn’t enough, there are times a free drink or dessert offered. If that’s not enough, you scale your offer upward with the idea of placating the customer and make them leave happy.

    What do you think?

    Thanks again!

  5. Cameron Davis

    Well, David – since you asked… and since it applies to the article….
    One of the biggest disconnects I’ve learned through the years is that the resolution doesn’t solve the problem. Using the restaurant example – if I ordered a steak and it comes out overcooked – don’t offer me free dessert for my bad steak. COOK ME A NEW STEAK! Solve the PROBLEM! If it’s a customer service issue, put me in touch with someone who has the power to do whatever is necessary to convert me from an unhappy customer to a happy customer. The more red tape – the more hassle – the worse my service experience will be.

    So to answer the question – no… offering something free is not a necessary component of resolving a service issue. Listening is the first step – apologizing is the second – and solving the problem is the third. If you don’t feel like you’ve won the customer back or they’re still a little iffy – then I would say its discretionary as to whether to offer something free or “go above and beyond”.



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