Tracking and responding to customer complaints isn’t the only reason you need to be checking your company’s online image. Sure, today’s less-than-happy customers—despite you and your employees’ best efforts—are likely to leave a negative review on a business reviews website or tag your social media accounts in a scathing post. But there are other threats that can do as much or more damage to your brand’s status, and sometimes they happen in the most unlikely ways.
The upset customer gives you a prompt to regularly check your social media feeds and any review websites (TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.) your business is listed on. But sometimes an attack your hard-earned, squeaky-clean online reputation can come out of nowhere.
An example I have personal experience with involved a public high school’s listing on Google. I had to contact the school as part of my duties at a previous job and Googled it to find its phone number. As I was looking through the information in the Google Business Profile (the box that sometimes appears for a business on the right side of the search results page), I noticed something disturbing. It had a line for the school motto, which read: “reinstate the 3/5th compromise.” (For those who aren’t well-studied in American history, the three-fifths compromise was an agreement among the framers of the constitution with regards to counting black slaves as citizens for census/representation purposes.)
Horrified by what I saw, I called the school and left a voicemail about what I’d observed. Within a day or so, it was taken down. The question is how did it get there? And how long had it been like that? How many other people may have Googled that high school, seen the “motto,” and not let the school know about it? It wasn’t clear to me whether someone must’ve hacked into the school’s Google account to make the change, but in the end all that mattered is that it was there for all to see.
What if something similar happened to your business? When was the last time you Googled your own business to see what comes up? What if your potential or current customers searched for your business’ website and saw that kind of offensive text below your company’s name? One of the scariest parts of the high school example is there’s no good way to fully redressing whatever damage may have been done. You may be able to get on your Google My Business and see how many people searched for your business recently, but you won’t know who those people are or how to reach them individually and address the situation.
It’s important that you’re checking your business’ online presence (social media channels, review websites, Google Business Profile and more) at least once per week, if not more often. If that’s something you don’t have time in your schedule to do, strongly consider delegating the task to an employee or hiring a communications consultant to do it for you.