Last month I wrote an introduction to online reputation management because it’s a vital piece to any business’s marketing plan. Negative reviews online could cause potential customers NOT to call you.

This month, I interviewed Pamela Gockley, president and CEO of Vigilant Corporation in Reading, Pennsylvania, to share additional information on this important topic. Pamela’s also the CEO and president of Gockley Associates. She is following up her first book, “The Reputation Factor: Repositioning to Succeed,” with her second book, “The Art of Running Red Lights,” to be published this summer.

Here is the Q & A that I did with Pam about online reputation and how she works with her clients on keeping theirs intact in our 24/7 world:

Wendy: What is online reputation management and why does a small- to medium-size company (especially a service sector company) need to be knowledgeable about it?

Pam: In today’s 365/24/7 with information at our fingertips, a thriving business knows what is being posted about them online. My clients start by taking a step back and focus on their real or non-cyber reputation first. As long as a company has a strong reputation, it can and will, if managed properly, survive any online negative posting. My clients hire me to create a company-wide reputation strategy that will be translated online. Many businesses that are in trouble or struggling are focusing only online. That is a losing path.

Wendy: Many lawn care/landscape/hardscape businesses use Yelp!, Google Reviews and other review sites. How can they manage their business’s reputation if they have one disgruntled client who’s a regular complainer on these sites?

Pam: We recommend a systematic way of monitoring the Internet for reviews and comments. If the company has a strong reputation, one complaining post will not affect the overall reputation of the company. This is not the time to go off on an emotional temper tantrum. That will damage your reputation more.

Wendy: How can a business fix or make better a bad review?

Pam: Never attack the client; it is not personal. The company must show they care, respect and appreciate the customer and their issue. If the company makes a mistake, apologize, acknowledge and fix it. Assure the client and everyone it will not happen again.

Wendy: Can they manage their Internet reputation? Is it unethical to do so? What is in their “power” or “control”?

Pam: This is the secret of success. We have created a process to management reputation. Our holistic plan helps businesses navigate through the process. We make the customer first, and not in an advertising agency way [with] print ads, mailings and TV ads saying so. We make your customers advocates by showing them how. Business is in total control of their reputation and we teach them how.

Wendy: How do you guide/educate your clients in online reputation management?

Pam: We start with non-cyber and transfer those results online. We focus on customer service, sales and marketing, in that order. Many businesses start with a website without knowing what their client wants or needs. Management guesses why and who buy their products or services. Our process totally flips the current process. Most businesses work owner to customer, we work customer to owner. The customers tell the management what and how to conduct them, based on their needs.

 

Thank you, Pam, for sharing your insights with Turf readers. If you’re looking for someone to help you with your online reputation management, call Pam at 610-916-3652 or fill out her contact form.