Negative blog posts can quickly go viral and reputation management can’t always repair the damage, as Progressive Insurance recently found out. An angry consumer posted a blog on Tumblr detailing the struggles his family had with Progressive Insurance following the death of his sister in a car accident. His sister was insured with Progressive; the man who killed her was underinsured. Progressive declined to cover her significant expenses.
The family was forced to sue the person who caused the accident in order to force Progressive to pay up. In a shocking move, Progressive actually sent a team of lawyers to defend the at-fault driver in order to avoid paying out on the policy. The post caused a firestorm on social media.
The bereaved family ultimately won the case, but for Progressive, the reputational damage left Flo flummoxed…
The Progressive Insurance example demonstrates how quickly a customer complaint can spin out of control and be magnified under the harsh light of social media. It is an important lesson in online brand reputation management.
The following strategies can help you keep your insurance company or insurance agency out of trouble.
1. React quickly when faced with criticism online. You’ve probably already encountered unhappy customers; it’s the nature of the insurance business. But when people who are upset and stressed take out their feelings without a filter online, you need to be prepared to react immediately. Set up Google alerts or a more advanced social media monitoring service so that any mention of you or your company (and employees) is immediately emailed to you. This will help you immediately react to the comments. While you’ll need to work quickly to respond to the negative comments, still take the time to cool down and proofread your response before posting it to a site like Yelp.com or via Twitter or Facebook. The last thing you want to do is argue with a customer online.
2. Ask clients to give you an online review. To help prevent negative comments from making it to the front page of a Google search, ask your happy clients to give you a positive online review. By proactively working on your online image, you will have a fence of goodwill to keep out negative reviews.
3. Communicate actively via social media. Use Facebook and Twitter to talk to your customers on a daily basis. Don’t just wait till a crisis when you need to do online reputation repair. Offer tips on how to save money on insurance, explain the different kinds of products available and respond to customer questions and concerns. By offering advice, especially on how to save money, you are positioning yourself as an insurance expert and your company as a “go to” provider.
4. Hire a reputation management agency. It’s hard to manage an online public relations campaign and your insurance practice. Hiring a top-rated online reputation management firm will help you dominate the first page of Google while helping to bury any negative reviews or defamatory posts.