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Twitter Q&A with
JAMES CAAN

A business’s online reputation is one of the most precious things it needs to be considerate of in a world dominated by the internet. With over 50% of customers making judgements of a business by their online reviews, and 95% of customers more likely to share a poor experience than a good one, a business has to be ready to respond to their customers efficiently and publicly.

With so many ways a business has to be aware of their online presence, it can be difficult to know what to do to protect your online reputation. We recently opened questions to business tycoon and former Dragons’ Den star, James Caan, on what measures you can take to manage your online reputation efficiently and effectively. Read on for our interview with James, and his answers for your Twitter questions:

Q:

What should a company do if they receive a comment/review that could negatively impact their business?

A:

First and foremost, you need to approach negative comments directly. Do not let these comments mull over – customer service is key and you need to show that you really care about your customer’s experience. Addressing the issue publicly will illustrate loyalty to your customer base and will make them feel like you’re listening to their feedback. You should always encourage feedback and give your customers the option to discuss their experiences.

Absolutely. Whenever I’m investing in a new business I always check their online presence and if they’ve understood the importance of digital branding. Businesses often underestimate the impact of digital media and their online reputation. If a business hasn’t embraced innovation and technology I am instantly turned off.

Q:

Do you have any examples of companies who do a great job of managing their online reputation, and what do you like about them?

A:

One of my colleagues recently made a compliant to Leon via Twitter about her undercooked lunch. I was really impressed by the way they handled her complaint; they replied within the hour and went over and above to send a voucher and apology card. This personal touch can do wonders for your brand and since then, everyone in my office has been visiting the new store in South Kensington! I think Innocent do a great job with their digital brand too. They always post quirky photos and facts that really engage with their audience. They have their branding on point.

Networking can be quite an awkward, difficult task. Nobody I know is a born networker and it’s always one of those things we know we should do, but can never really find time for. My first tip is; do your research. This way you can start informed, interesting conversations. More often than not you can find an invitee list – use this and quickly search on LinkedIn to find out some interesting facts about the individual. Once you’ve started the conversation, try not to focus on pitching yourself. Sociable people are much more likely to be remembered than the person who spent the whole time talking about themselves and their business without asking questions.

Q:

How can university graduates improve their personal online reputation to help them get on the career ladder?

A:

I’m always impressed by graduates who have clearly made an effort to understand their market. I suggest starting conversations with thought leaders, other graduates, employers and employees in your sector and becoming aware of news and trends. I’d also encourage new graduates to share their work online. If you have a blog – share it! Show potential employers your passion, drive and enthusiasm for what you do.

Recovering from bad online propaganda is always difficult. Firstly, you need to admit your faults. Don’t make excuses and try to brush it over – admit that you made a mistake and it’s much more likely you’ll save customers who believe you are genuinely apologetic. It is important you don’t play the blame game because more often that not, it’s a team effort and inducing more negativity will make the issue even worse. Once you’ve dealt with the initial blow, it’s time to plan a strategic, brutal brand overhaul. Start by identifying your weaknesses and creating solutions for these weaknesses.

Q:

How do I get my company in front of online influencers and get them to endorse my business?

A:

Endorsements can be extremely beneficial but are also difficult to get. A lot of businesses make the mistake of bombarding other businesses and celebrities with spray and pray tweets which aren’t personalised and have obviously been mailshotted. This is exactly what you SHOULDN’T be doing. The best way to get noticed online is to be active and show that you’re serious about building a successful brand. Next, use customer reviews to your advantage. People trust people and influencers will only endorse brands that have great customer reviews. Lastly, engage with influencers in your sector by starting conversations and illustrating your interest.

It’s great to see employees active on social media but of course, this can have its repercussions. Every business should have guidelines in place regarding social media sharing and this should be circulated with every employee. Once boundaries are in place, it is much easier to manage. Your online brand should illustrate your business culture and vision. If you have a good team, they should be completely aware of these two aspects and will use their channels to promote all the great things about their workplace.

Q:

Is a strong social following enough to prove a good online reputation?

A:

If you have a million followers yet hardly any engagement, what’s the point? I’d much rather have 100K followers yet great engagement any day. Merely counting on how many followers you can accumulate isn’t enough. People want to follow businesses that will give them inspiring, informative and thought provoking takeaway messages. I didn’t get my 2.4 million LinkedIn followers by accident! I spend my time writing weekly blogs that I know my followers want to read. What’s the point in having all this experience and knowledge if I can’t share it with others?

Q:

Should businesses proactively reach out to customers to encourage feedback?

A:

Absolutely. Customer feedback can help you identify what you’re doing well, what needs improving and how you can expand. How do you expect to learn from your mistakes, grow and succeed if you don’t know where you’re going wrong? Business is all about reviewing and improving. You should be constantly innovating and thinking of new ways to expand and retain your customer base. I suggest adding a customer feedback page to your website and actively keeping on top of customer queries and complaints via social media.

Thanks to James Caan for giving up his time to answer these questions on managing your online reputation. If you want to know more about why managing your online reputation matters, please check out our infographic: https://www.towergateinsurance.co.uk/liability-insurance/business-online-reputation

Business online reputation