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How to keep your online reputation pristine

From a great column by Lenora Chuin Fortune Small Business about managing negative word of mouth:

When Chancellor Hotel property manager Wes Tyler first began monitoring TripAdvisor for reviews written about his Chancellor Hotel in San Francisco, he found that most were positive. But a few were excoriating, which he says "scared me to death."

Instead of getting mad, Tyler took action. For every negative review, he began publicly posting the hotel’s side of the story, using TripAdvisor’s management response tool. If a complaint turned out to be legitimate, he set about making it right for future guests.

Tyler also launched a campaign with TripAdvisor to take down bad reviews – and their damaging one-dot ratings – that had no basis in reality. In each case, Tyler instigated a series of e-mail exchanges with TripAdvisor administrators, explaining why a particular review was unfounded. In one instance, a guest insisted that the hotel was located next to a tenement housing building. In reality, the hotel is two steps away from Saks Fifth Avenue.

In four years, TripAdvisor has obliged Tyler by removing both of the reviews he contested. Tyler’s strategies have paid off: The Chancellor now ranks in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 in the San Francisco market. 

(Read the full article.)

Here are the key lessons in managing reviews about your business:

  1. Monitor: Know what people are saying.  Reviews decide if you’re going to close a sale – they are the critical last moment in the purchase process. Never get caught by surprise.
  2. Reply: Tell your side of the story. It’s a conversation – you do have the right to share your view. Your silence tells future buyers that negative reviews are accurate.
  3. Act: Work with web sites to correct inaccuracies. Web sites want their reviews to be truthful and helpful. They are your allies in correcting errors. Don’t fight them, work with them.
  4. Encourage: Ask happy customers to post their reviews too. Negative word of mouth spreads on it’s own, positive word of mouth needs a little reminder.
  5. Fix: Negative reviews are based on real problems. You have to fix the cause or complaints won’t stop.

Lesson:  It didn’t take an online expert or expensive agency to improve their online reputation, just one smart employee.

(FSB has been providing really great coverage of WOM. More here.)

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  1. Elizabeth January 28, 2008 at 3:15 pm #

    Your note today made me want to go look at the Chancellor’s listing on TripAdvisor and Mr. Tyler’s comments. It’s great that he’s proactive, but the language in his replies gives me the impression that he’s all talk and no action — or not very responsive to complaints in the real, offline world. His responses are often dismissive to the complaint, snipey and almost critical of the reviewer. “Blah, blah, blah” he responds to one with a list of issues.
    It’s great that he wants to reponsd, but his responses don’t give the appearance of being hospitable — and isn’t that the first thing one wants from a hotel?

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