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The online Jekyll and Hyde

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Thursday December 3, 2009 )

It will probably come as no surprise to many online merchants that consumers feel more confident in lashing out at a company due to the anonymity the Internet provides.

What’s important to remember though is that if you’re in the right, not to attribute Schwarzenegger type personalities these folks. Don’t be scared by them. Stand your ground, but remember that aggression breeds aggression. The guy who sounds like a 6 foot muscle bound psychopath with a passion for automatic weapons can often be a weedy little bloke who would scream and run if you so much as looked at him the wrong way.

The Internet has allowed a huge group of normally meek and mild people the ability to say what they think – sometimes. On other occasions, they willl say things without thinking. Some of this mindless behavior can really cause unwarranted damage to a company’s brand.

A survey reported on by Emarketer found nearly 43% of US Internet users feel less inhibited online, with the effect most prominent among females and users ages 25 to 54. 20% of Internet users, including almost one-quarter of men, said they had used the Internet to lash out at a company.

Usually before lashing out publicly, there will be warning signs – in the case of a disgruntled customer, there may be an equally aggressive attitude in communications leading up to the dummy spit. Again, this isn’t always warranted, but regardless, online merchants need to know how to deal with it in order to prevent the person’s boiler bursting and company’s good name being tarnished.

Once that tarnish is there, it’s incredibly hard to rub off. One of my colleagues had some rather nasty things said about his business and on searching on the company, that feedback ranked highly on search engines. He spent the next couple of years addressing the fallout. It’s down to the old saying of an ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure.

Pick up some tips on dealing with aggressive customers and learn more about online reputation management.


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