As an accounting firm, your business is built on trust. That means you have to maintain a stellar reputation to attract new clients.
But mistakes happen, and sometimes you just can’t please a customer. Unfortunately, those unhappy customers may leave online reviews or talk about their experience on social media without letting you tell your side of the story. And when that happens, your reputation can suffer.
That’s where reputation management comes into play. With a reputation management strategy, you can overshadow those negative reviews and social media discussions and push them out of search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google. Once you do that, you’re actively protecting — and promoting — your company’s positive reputation.
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Video: Online Review Management
What is online reputation management?
Reputation management strategies differ depending on a company’s needs. But some of the most common tactics include saturating search results, petitioning search engines to remove certain search results, publishing your side of the story, and more.
Similarly, it’s important to understand the sources of bad press that could hurt your reputation. Some of them are legitimate places for consumers to vocalize their concerns, and others could just be overly-negative, small-time blogs. And still others may be your competition!
Most often, you’ll find negativity from these four sources online:
- Social media. Unhappy customers commonly use social media to talk about their experience. This gives you the chance to interact with unhappy customers directly, apologize, and offer a way to make things right. It also gives you a chance to publicize your side of the story so you’re not always the target.
- Review sites. Review sites like Yelp are also common areas for unhappy customers. These sites offer reliable and honest reviews of other businesses, but they also give you the chance to reply to unhappy customers on the same site. It’s like a smaller, more concentrated form of social media.
- Media coverage. If something goes exceptionally wrong, it’s possible that an unhappy customer could contact the media about it. In that case, reputable media outlets will contact you for a chance to explain what happened. Disreputable outlets will publish a story without informing you, which places you back on damage control.
- Hate sites. These sites are typically small-time, single-person sites that are used to let someone vent steam. They’re typically run by people who are angry anyway, and you just happened to wander into their line of sight, so they wrote about you. Sometimes, you can contact a search engine to have these listings removed since they serve no purpose and they’re melodramatic.
Now that you know where a negative reputation can start online, it’s time to consider fixing it.
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Tips for online reputation management for accountants
You have a number of options at your disposal to deal with a negative online reputation. Some of them are similar to popular public relations strategies as well, so there’s a good chance these will look familiar to you.
As a side note, it’s important to remember that when you’re jumping into reputation management strategies, you’re not looking for blame — you’re controlling the results of something that’s already happened.
With that in mind, you can use these strategies to recover your reputation:
Write a press release
Press releases are one of the original reputation management styles that date back decades. A press release gives you the chance to address a specific issue, provide an overview of your side of the story, and connect with media outlets. If a customer complaint or a negative review has gotten enough attention online, then a media outlet (or even a popular blog) could follow up with you and ask for more information.
This strategy calls attention to the negativity surrounding your reputation, but it gives you a chance to mend it publicly. Establish a strategy for what you’ll say and do in order to address the negativity, and adapt it based on responses as you move forward with your reputation management campaign.
Professionally respond to criticism
If you’d like to take a more personal approach to criticism, you can address the issue — or the source themselves — on social media. Twitter and Facebook are especially great for providing you with the space and resources you need to have a civil, constructive conversation with people who criticize you.
If a complaint is particularly outlandish, you can respond publicly to keep people on your side. If it’s more run-of-the-mill, like a customer service issue, you can privately message someone to discuss how you can meet their expectations.
This method allows you to make a personal connection with someone who’s complaining, and it can completely change their views on your accounting firm. Most people feel like they’re speaking in a vacuum when they’re talking on social media, so when they actually hear back from someone, they’re impressed.
Plus, publicly responding to customer feedback shows other users that you’re engaged and listening to them.
Encourage positive reviews
One of the best ways to deal with negativity is to encourage positivity! You can counteract negative reviews by asking your happy customers to leave positive reviews on popular services like Yelp. Even if you only get a handful of positive reviews in return, you at least have a couple strong responses to any complaints. And that looks much better than a couple of bad reviews with no positive ones!
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WebFX knows accounting firm reputation management
At WebFX, we know all there is about reputation management and how to improve your online image. Our talented team of reputation specialists is one of the most experienced in the industry, and we’ll get you the best reputation results you could want for your accounting firm. If you’ve suffered from any kind of negative review, we can fix it!
Ready to improve your online reputation? Contact us today to design a reputation management plan specifically for you!
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