If a negative search result starts to show up in the SERPs, one of the most common questions I get asked is “what should I do” and the quick answer to this follows on from a previous post – Don’t panic. Panic leads to rash decisions that can exacerbate a situation, especially so if it is a journalistic article that is marring your name. Journalists love anything that has a chance at becoming juicy and increasing readership. Don’t give them the means to fuel the fire!
Recent case study
A client I worked for recently tried to rectify a fairly simple situation where a customer wasn’t happy with a service they purchased online. The customer didn’t really have a grievance because they clearly hadn’t read some very simple T&C’s, but that didn’t stop them going to a consumer help board to ask for advice when the company refused to offer a refund or help out because their hands were tied by policies. Fair enough…
This resulted in people asking if it was a scam – were they not trustworthy? Do they bury tricks in the small print? All of these phrases (and more) started to appear in Google when tied in with the client name. People had actually started to search for ” scam“. Not a good position to be in.
This situation should have been handled differently, of that there is no doubt, but hindsight is always there to remind you of this. Had they tried to contain the situation from the first contact, this would never have escalated. No-one would have been upset had they been a little more open to communication rather than shutting the customer out immediately and forcing them to feel they needed to air their grievance more publically.
Avoiding negative press
Anyone can find themselves in these circumstances and more often than not, they can be avoided by being receptive and sympathetic towards the situation someone has found themselves in.
- Don’t shut people out
- Keep issues away from the public eye
- Never argue in a public forum
- If you send someone an e-mail, remember that they can quote what you say
- Have a clear complaints procedure
If a complaint does end up in the public eye, assess the situation before wading in and belittling those with an issue. You would do a lot more good by being seen to address those concerns and say as much. Make people see that you are approachable and care about your clients.
They say that no press is bad press, but this isn’t always the case. If you ignore situations or get defensive then this can quickly turn bad for you. Invite people to e-mail you directly to try and call a halt to negativity being published in the public eye.