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Homes.com DoWarren Buffett once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Now that 90 percent of homebuyers use the Internet during the homebuying process (NAR), your online reputation can mean the difference between gaining a new client and losing one to the competition. This is why reputation management is such an important aspect of your business.

No one is perfect, so you can expect that at some point in your career, there will be a client or two that is simply not satisfied with the level of service they received. Even if their issue lies with something completely out of your hands, like a loan not being approved, they will undoubtedly voice their opinion about it online.

Ninety-four percent of consumers are more willing to spread the bad experience than the good one (Salesforce). Today’s consumer expects transparency, which means that regardless of whether people are speaking positively or negatively about your business, their comments should be available for others to see. While your first instinct may be to simply delete any negative feedback you find online, there are plenty of ways to handle this type of situation in a way that will show why you’re the local real estate expert.

Here are a few tips on how to better handle negative online reviews:

DON’T Wait to Respond

When it comes to handling negative reviews, time is of the essence! The longer a negative comment goes unanswered, the more opportunities there are for other potential clients to see it and decide to go with a competitor. Be sure that you are constantly monitoring your social channels and local review sites to ensure that your online reputation is being protected!

DO Show That You Care

People like to see that their voices are being heard. Even if it’s something that can’t be resolved immediately, provide a response to let them know you are working on making things right. Always apologize and be respectful if you disagree with a client; don’t let your personal feelings affect your professional demeanor. The important thing here is to not get defensive and focus on resolving the problem at hand.

DON’T Lose Your Cool

Responding hastily can cast a negative image on your brand in the eyes of other buyers and sellers. Regardless of what a client may say or how irate they may be, always stay calm, cool and collected. Getting into an argument with a client online while trying to justify your actions will only hurt you. Remember that you’re the professional and have a lot more at stake than the person on the other side of the conversation.

DO Make It Personal

Always respond to negative comments on a case-by-case basis. Providing a canned response to an online review will make readers think that you do not value their feedback. Believe it or not, clients and prospects can read right through marketing messages. Create a response for their individual concerns; it will show that you have taken time out of your day to address their problem. Furthermore, it’s always nice to know that you’re talking to a person and not an automated service.

DO Say ‘Thank You’

Whether it’s a positive review or a negative review, always be sure to thank the client for providing you with feedback. By taking time out of their day to share their review, it could be setting you up for potential business in the future. Don’t get too hung up on negative reviews, because it could be a blessing in disguise, as they can help shine a light on areas of your business that could be improved and lead to even more success.

Need more tidbits on how to manage your online reputation? Download Homes.com’s eBook, “Maximizing Your Online Reputation,” for techniques to help you engage more prospects, protect your brand and control the conversation. For a full marketing solution, check out Homes.com Social. This comprehensive social media suite allows you to manage all aspects of your online presence, from Facebook to online reviews, and sends you daily alerts when reviews or mentions are posted. Comment below with your best (or worst!) reputation management stories!

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