The dynamic digital landscape gives businesses remarkable opportunities to interact with their audiences and build a powerful online presence. However, maintaining a positive brand image online comes with challenges, and one of the most persistent is online trolls.
Online trolls are individuals who engage in purposeful and disruptive behaviour to provoke negative reactions. In doing so, they can threaten a business’s reputation and customer relationships. Responding to these threats gracefully requires a measured approach. Here are a few strategies that can shield your business from online trolls and promote agility and resilience for your brand.
1. Turn criticism into an opportunity
Online trolls love to target businesses through 1-star reviews. They aim to drag down your average rating and discourage potential customers. But there is a way to deal with them effectively: Respond professionally. Address their concerns with empathy and offer a solution to their problem. By engaging constructively, you showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction, demonstrating to onlookers that you take feedback seriously. Here are some business owners that did a great job of responding to negative reviews.
Remember not to get emotional or aggressive, which may escalate the situation. Instead, maintain a positive tone and encourage the reviewer to reach out privately to resolve the issue. In some cases, this approach can even win over disgruntled customers and convert them into brand advocates.
2. Deal with fake and malicious reviews right away
Don’t let fake or defamatory reviews tarnish your online reputation. Many platforms allow businesses to report fake reviews for potential removal. Report any false, malicious, or spam reviews to the respective platform as soon as you notice them.
Google Business Profile and most social media platforms have strict guidelines and will remove fraudulent comments when you report them. However, you must ensure that your case is well-documented and supported with evidence, such as screenshots.
3. Protect your brand through legal action
In extreme cases of online harassment, businesses can escalate the matter legally. Consult with a legal professional and, if necessary, ask them to send a cease-and-desist letter on letterhead to the individual responsible for the trolling.
A well-drafted letter communicates your seriousness in protecting your brand and may deter the troll from attacking you further. If the situation persists, you can explore the possibility of defamation and cyber bullying cases.
4. Cultivate a positive online presence
Combat negativity with positivity! Actively encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and share their experiences. When potential customers see glowing reviews amidst the negative ones, they are more likely to trust your business.
Ask customers to leave feedback on review sites, social media, or your website after a successful transaction. Consider providing incentives or running a loyalty program for those who share their experiences, reinforcing a culture of appreciation and gratitude.
5. Create a safe online community
As helpful as it can be to address concerns and promote open dialogue, some trolls will be relentless in their negative behaviour. When faced with continuous harassment and trolling, protecting your online space and community is essential.
Block abusive accounts and set clear community guidelines to maintain a positive atmosphere. This safeguards your brand and fosters a welcoming environment for genuine customers.
6. Create bulletproof return and refund policies
Online trolls may use refund and return policies to exploit businesses and spread false narratives. Ensure your return and refund policies are well-defined and transparent. Here’s a handy guide to writing great return and refund policies.
A bulletproof policy protects your business from malicious intentions and inspires confidence in potential customers. Be empathetic when dealing with genuine refund requests and strive to provide excellent customer service.
As businesses navigate the digital landscape, it’s inevitable that they will occasionally encounter online trolls. However, with the strategies outlined above, you can confidently defend your brand’s integrity. Embrace the power of positivity and professionalism, and let your commitment to excellent customer service be a shield against online trolling.