Reputation Mismanagement

Some people think the first page of a Google search has the power of God. They hope and pray their business name appears on the first page and rejoice when it does because thinking thier business is set for life. Reputation management seems to boil down to the top of a web page.
When I did a Google search for “reputation management,” three companies came to the top of the page as offering a service to help improve your on-line reputation: ReputationManagementConsultants, ReputationDefender, and Positive Search Results. Positive Search Results even offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their services. While, I can’t endorse any of these companies, I can give them credit for accomplishing a first page listing of their companies that is positive. While online reputations can be ruined by real or false claims against companies by places like and, there’s a bigger issue that many companies fail to address.

While a few customer complaints can make even the most respected companies look bad online, it really has to do with the culture of the company in building it’s image through internal and external public relations. For example, has a complaint against Verizon. I use Verizon for my mobile phone and they recently charged me almost $200 by their mistake. When I saw the bill I was ticked-off. However, I called customer service and they verified the mistake and immediately corrected the bill. So, when I see others complain about them, I’m less likely to agree with the angry consumer, since I had a positive experience. 
For the company that wants to manage their reputations and keep them in a positive light, even when things get dark with customer complaints, keep in mind:

1. A reputation is connected to a company’s character: Character is who you are when nobody is looking. Business that create a culture where employees can admit mistakes to management and to the customers, will come out ahead in the reputation game. We all make mistakes, the key is how quickly we address them and how we go about correcting the matter above the call of duty.

2. Character is connected to consistency: What you do repeatedly is how you are remembered over time. Do you avoid making the same mistake more than a few times? Does you company empower employees to make reputation-saving decisions on their own? One time I was in Trader Joe’s and the peanut butter rung up with the wrong price. The cashier took my word for it that it was wrong and decided to not charge me for the bread I was buying. Their marketing about being a great place to shop connects with great service (and trust in the customers) from the employees.

3. Consistency will always get you better “rankings” online and offline: While the Internet has become the choice for many to evaluate a product or service, getting positive reviews with traditional word of mouth trumps all else. When you’re at a restaurant checking email on your Blackberry and someone is doing the same on their Droid, any comparison with intuitive features shared in-person and then verified online will be a powerful brand and reputation builder.

As a practical matter, some companies know how to “work the Internet” system to get better rankings with the SEO strategies. So building your reputation from the inside out will help your business stay the course whether or not someone gets “pissed” or “feels ripped” off by you.