You already know that watching what you say and watching what you do are both important ways to protect your reputation. But did you know that your business can be equally harmed by the things you don’t say or do?
You see, most people have come to expect that they can go to your website and locate everything they need to know about doing business with your company. If you fail to include a vital piece of information you could create a significant problem for the customer—a problem that negatively impacts your brand the moment that customer shares his experience online.
Example #1: The Public Pool
I recently decided to take my daughter to a local swimming pool. Naturally, I visited the pool’s website to figure out what I needed to know in order to plan this little outing. I located hours and admissions information—but not much else.
When I got to the pool I discovered that the pool had a pretty important policy. You weren’t allowed to bring any personal belongings onto the pool deck. There were lockers, and they were free, but it was strictly a bring-your-own lock experience. Because I hadn’t known about these two issues I didn’t have a lock.
We didn’t stay too long. I just wasn’t comfortable leaving my belongings in an unsecured locker where I could not keep an eye on them. I also haven’t been back. The whole experience was incredibly annoying. Had I been inclined to leave a review it would have been a 1-star review.
Example #2: The Furniture Store
I have one rule and one rule only when it comes to buying furniture. I don’t do assembly.
I want pieces that have already been put together, thank you very month. This week I bought a pair of living room chairs. They’d already been on “rain check” for a full week while the store ordered the second part of the set.
Now, these chairs were displayed on the show room floor, fully assembled and ready to go. There was absolutely nothing in the store or on the store’s website which ever indicated I would not be buying two fully assembled chairs.
After I swiped my credit card the clerk had me pull my truck up to the front doors. This wasn’t even my truck. I’d paid to rent a U-Haul pick-up that would help me get these suckers 5 minutes down the street without incurring a massive delivery fee. The store parking lot was packed very full, and there were people lining up behind me, annoyed that I was blocking traffic. So I didn’t even see that the chairs were in boxes until I had no choice but to move on.
Resigned and annoyed, I brought the chairs home and decided to give it the old college try. After two hours of assembly Hell I called the store to find out who assembled their display furniture. Maybe I could just pay this dude off the clock. I was willing to shell out another $30 if it meant I could stop dealing with this nonsense.
The in-store assembly guy did not want to make a spare $30. There was some sort of company policy that said he might get fired if he tried it. Furthermore, I learned that they had a $10 assembly service! I could have asked them to assemble the chairs on the spot, and it would have cost me a measly ten bucks!
Needless to say, I was livid. There had been no mention of this service anywhere. There was nothing on the store’s website. There was nothing posting in the store. And the clerk hadn’t bothered to say a thing.
By then I’d had to return the truck, so there was no bringing the chairs back to avail myself of this service. Eventually I did assemble the chairs myself, and fortunately they’re no less sturdy for the exercise. But if I was inclined to name names that particular furniture store might be facing a reputation management problem right around the time I hit “publish” on this very post!
Disarming Your Land Mines
Sit down and make a big list of everything customers should know about doing business with your company. This should include any policies that you have or any services that you offer. Think about anything which could cause your customers any kinds of problems or distress.
Then, create content to address these issues. You can put this information in your FAQ, or on sidebars like, “ask about our assembly service!” Just make sure these tidbits of information are placed somewhere customers can easily find them. Reputation management is all about relationship management…and shielding your customers from unpleasant surprises is a great start in building and maintaining those relationships.
Protect your reputation online.