Reputation Management in a Social World

americas-best-glassesI recently got a new pair of glasses from America's Best. Normally I google a company, ask friends only etc. This time I just made a purchase decision based on advertising. After all, at $69 for two pair how could I go wrong?

As I expected the service was minimal and "efficient" (but not negative). Unexpectedly, the selection of glasses was actually better than I expected. The trouble began when I decided to google the company over the week or so that I had to wait for my glasses to come back from the lab.

Unfortunately, America's Best has a TON of negative comments on message boards and "consumer protection" type sites, but very little positive.After reading all of this I started to really question my decision to get glasses from them and when they called I was determined to make sure I didn't get screwed.

This led me to be a bit over zealous when I finally did get my glasses - almost to the point where I was looking for any excuse to back out of my purchase. Certainly, if I had read all that stuff before walking in the door I would have absolutely stayed away.

The reason I bring this up is that in the end I actually had a MUCH better experience with America's Best than one would believe if all they read was negative buzz online. Maybe I just got lucky with my experience, but certainly I can't be the only person to have an overall positive experience?

What can a company do to improve online reputation?

My first advice would be to research your brand online - find out what people are saying. Once you do that, create an inventory and see if there are ways to counteract the negative comments. For instance, with Yelp, business owners can write replies and I have helped clients actually work through the process of resolving negative reviews to the point where the poster withdrew the complaint.

After looking at multiple Yelp profiles for America's Best, I didn't see a single one where the store manager had responded (publicly anyhow) to negative reviews. What I did see was that many customers had unrealistic expectations or expected a AAA experience for A prices.

The glasses are essentially $35 each people! No matter where you go, there are going to be upcharges if you have special eye conditions or need special lense types. If you want to pay two or three times more and get marginally better service go ahead. Personally, I am thankful that they are able to provide a quality product as a very fair price. BTW, higher price isn't a guarentee of a fantastic experience either.

Next I would suggest that the company identify what positive aspects are recognized by its customers and build a campaign to help foster the generation of more positive communication or at least excitement in the brand. This could be accomplished by blogging, reaching out to bloggers and online media, as well as traditional PR. Depending on the brand, it could also involve developing a social media promotion where consumers are encouraged to generate positive content online.

For a brand like America's Best, this could be as simple as offering a free hard case for the glasses if the person brings back a print out of a review or blog post they have made. While not always the case, you will probably end up having this trend positive - after all, pissed off people usually just want to rant and probably never want to come back to your store. People with a positive experience will probably feel more compelled to take part in an initiative like this.

This social reputation management campaign could also involve real-world efforts such as vision screenings at community events, as well as responding to comments on twitter like this one, "minnesotamitch First and last trip to America's Best. Cheap glasses doesn't make up for awful customer service. #fb".

If there IS a problem, FIX IT!

Of course, the final piece of advice for any business wanting to improve its online social reputation is to be honest with yourself. If you have problems, work to fix them.

Without doing this, there is no way to really succeed at online reputation management.

I have to give great props to Dominos for doing this recently and it seems to have worked as I have ordered more Dominos pizza in the past couple months than I have in the past couple years. This change in their pizza recipe did foster tons of positive social feedback online as well as mainstream press.





Contact James Hills


phone: 630-779-9302