Protecting Your Brokerage Reputation
Anyone can dig to find information about you online. Likewise, anyone can post a negative comment about you on a forum, website or blog. While one would hope that happy clients will share their experience with your loan brokerage with others, it is better to expect that disgruntled and unsatisfied customers will be the ones doing the talking. The speed of which information is processed and shared is mind-blowing. To prepare yourself for any negative comments and to protect you brokerage reputation, engage in these simple procedures to protect from irreparable damage.
Have a positioning statement at the ready for any inquiries about a harsh review of your brokerage. On the chance that you are contacted by a member of the press for a comment regarding a customer’s complaint, have a document detailing some information about you, your history and experience, and the policies you try to enforce on standby to send to that person to clarify your practices. It’s never a good idea to criticize a former customer in the public light; however, be sure to explain your side of the story without being defensive (as this will create the feeling that you are trying to compensate for a mistake you made).
While you can’t completely eliminate bad comments about your brokerage from the web, you can hide them. Work to create as many positive search results are possible. This will push your positive ratings to the top of a search engine result list and demote any negative comments towards the bottom. A good start is with your website. Use search engine optimization keywords in your website copy to make it the first result in a related search. Rely on positive reviews you receive from colleagues and former clients and articles you might have written using your expertise and opinions.
Social networking is another great tool to promote a positive reputation. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to show parts of your personality and merge your professional and personal lives together. LinkedIn might be your best tool for this. Not only does it allow you to include a Twitter feed and link back to your website and social networking accounts, you can ask people you know well, trust and worked successfully with in the past to create a recommendation for you and your services.
Include any charities and non-profits you work with on your social networking pages. It helps to grab the attention of potential customers, shows your concern for the community, and offers negation of any bad comments that might be circulating about you. Be mindful of what you (and your friends and associates) post on your social networking sites. Just because you can control the privacy level on your own account doesn’t mean other people can’t see questionable photos or content regarding you on the accounts of others. If you know better, you should be better.
Sign-up for alert systems (like Yahoo Alerts or Google Alerts) to see when and how your name pops up online. If you see something that isn’t factually true, don’t hesitate to contact the author and correct it. Most people will be open to accepting the clarification. Also, consider registering your own name as a domain name. Having your own website will help to eliminate any confusion with someone of the same name.
Most importantly, be proactive about maintaining a good reputation and defending your status. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. Most people want to work with others like them, and they might better identify with a picture of you wearing a Santa hat at a Christmas party than just through your resume and experience alone. If a negative comment comes up from time to time, have three times as many positive comments from satisfied customers handy to rebut the indiscretion. Chances are the fluke will be seen by your future client pool as a one-off rather than the Holy Grail of your brokerage.