Online reputation can make you or break you these days. People don’t trust companies, agencies or agents anymore. Online reviews for almost any venture that is doing at least a decent business is providing customers with much better insight into how that company is operating. One bad review will not destroy your business but few dozens will certainly damage it severely. What makes reviews more important is a fact that they are directly connected to your offer. It has become a norm to read reviews on Amazon before buying the product, reading Tripadvisor reviews while booking a service or deciding on a restaurant and checking customer feedback while deciding whether to buy from a seller on eBay.
Here are some numbers to show the importance of online reputation:
Customer loyalty is not the thing of the past just yet but in the online world of today that same loyalty is much more easily lost. The competitor with a higher rating or better value for money is just a click away.
For these reasons, it is of great importance to understand how this world of reviews and online reputation works and how to handle it. It crucial not only to act on bad reviews but to actively work on keeping your online reputation in immaculate condition.
The first thing that you have to understand is you will get them. There will range from feedback on genuine mistakes you did to mean reviews from people that make it their career from complaining and nitpicking. You will have to respond to both of these in a decent, respectful manner and do it quickly. Reviews are usually by default listed in chronological order, which means that the latest ones will be on top. This makes it easier for you to spot negative ones but unfortunately, that is the also the case for your potential customers.
Respond to negative reviews quickly and with understanding, Sometimes this is all it takes to prevent situation to escalate. If you respond in a friendly and helpful way, the reviewer will feel that you care and in a majority of the cases change the rating. Don’t answer with robotic, canned response such as: “I am sorry that you feel this way. We in XY take great care in keeping our customers happy. Have a great day!” Give a concise, helpful response. If they are complaining about the service, ask your staff if they remember that person. Address their troubles directly. Take their advice, make changes if needed, be appreciative for their input. What is important is that your customers feel that you care and that their satisfaction is what matters to you most. Responding to customer ratings and reviews is the crucial part of your service. Separate your personal feelings and emotions from responses, getting drawn into a fight never ends well.
If there is a great difference between customers served and online reviews you are wasting a great deal of free marketing. Positive reviews not only strengthen your online reputation but act as a preventive measure in case of a particularly damaging bad review. Imagine 5 positive reviews and 1 horrible one vs 300 positive reviews and 1 horrible one. Makes a difference, right? Positive reviews also boost your SEO ranking, which will increase the chances for potential customers to find you through search.
Make sure that your customers know how important this is for you. Educate them on how to do this if needed. Just remember not to be sleazy and “salesy” Leave an impression that it is a part of your service improvement system because it is exactly that. There is a possibility to offer something in return, like a discount or a free product or a service. This is up to you, just don’t make it look like a bribe.
Review sites such as Tripadvisor, Yelp, etc. are where you should direct most of your efforts to but don’t forget social media. It might catch you unprepared. Keep track of any mention of your company in social media conversations, good and bad. Share or retweet the positive ones and address negative ones.
If a customer posted something positive about your company make sure that the world knows about it. Share it across all your social media profiles and everywhere you might have a presence.
For the negative mentions, the same rule applies like with negative reviews. Respond to them quickly and respectfully. Address their issues and solve their problems. If you do solve it and the situation is resolved to make sure all your followers know about it.
If your competitor is ranked higher on any of the review sites that are important for your business they might be doing something better than you. They probably employ some sort of system or strategy that you might copy.
Scan media such as news portals, local websites, and blogs for favorable mentions of them. Make a list of journalists and bloggers that might be working with them. Plan on how you can approach them. If they are working with them, chances are they will work with you.
Scan review sites on how they are dealing with negative reviews and encourage positive ones and take some points from them.
Scan social media to see if they are working with influencers. Make a list and approach them. They will probably appreciate your business.
Online reputation is crucial in doing business today and it will become more so in the future. It is time for you to put systems and tactics in place to be able to handle any situation that might escalate and to prevent them from even escalating. Don’t get caught off guard, it just might ruin your business.