Some say a good reputation is worth more than glittering silver and gold. In our online world, your reputation is your calling card. It is just as significant as it was when you were in high school. When meeting new business associations; you can count on them looking into your online profiles such as your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
Furthermore, potential clients will read reviews posted about your company. According to advertising agency MDG, 92% of consumers trust online reviews posted by other consumers. The gut-wrenching part is less than half of businesses polled felt prepared to handle any online reputation mishaps.
If you find yourself in that category, read on to keep your business online reputation in its finest form.
Why Is Your Online Reputation Important?
If you have a plethora of bad reviews, you can expect a steep decline in sales. Furthermore, partners may not want to work with you until you make strategic improvements. Here are some other statistics to prove this point:
- The top 10 review sites grew over 158% within the past year.
- 51% of consumers go online before making purchases in retail outlets.
- 90% of consumers trust reviews from family members and friends.
- 75% of consumers mistrust advertising.
Find Out What People Are Saying
How do you start? The first step is by searching for your company name using search engines such as Google or Bing. Review the information that gets listed. Type in your exact company name as well as some of the products or services you offer. You should also use your company name to run an image search.
Set Up a Google Alert
So you don’t have to spend hours searching; you can set up Google Alerts. These are free, real-time email alerts sent to you whenever someone mentions your company online. You can use multiple-keyword alerts to let you know whenever your company, products or even competitors are mentioned.
Request Honest Reviews
In the day and age of fake reviews; intelligent consumers can spot them from a mile away. It might be tempting to purchase reviews, but they can hurt you in the long run. Not to mention, it is just unethical. At the same time, you want to make it easy for customers to give you a review. If you are in a brick-and-mortar establishment, have a tablet or laptop near the register and ask customers if they wouldn’t mind sharing their experiences.
Take Caution Before Responding to Criticism
Scorching critiques might hurt, and it can be difficult to prevent yourself from responding immediately. However, you should take a breather first. You want to take a look and understand the root of the criticism.
On the other hand, if key facts are misrepresented; that is a situation where you can respond simply to make factual corrections. The last thing you want to do is to make it worse by causing an argument.
Perform a Website Audit
At times, your site may be confusing and unclear to consumers, thereby setting incorrect expectations. Take a look at your brand message. Does it concisely represent your business in the most flattering light? You want to also make sure you business name is an exact match to your URL.
Create Positive Web Content
So what if you do have a few bad reviews plaguing your site? According to Digital Firefly, 83% of companies will experience a negative crisis, which affects their share price. This means that you will probably not be alone.
The first thing you want to do is to start creating positive web content. These can be things that highlight your company’s products and services. Use mediums such as YouTube and relevant blog content. It might end up at the top of the search listings, crowding out the negative publicity.
Even if a few clients were angry enough to post their thoughts online, you can still perform some damage control. Do not let it get to you; keep your cool. You can’t make every single client 100% happy, even if you want to. Also, there are some personalities that are just never satisfied no matter how hard you work to please them.
Some of the details can get lost in translation. A client may have expected more than they received, and you might have expected a larger payment. These situations happen to all businesses. The important thing is to keep striving for excellence and staying consistent.
There are some circumstances where customers are downright mean. For example, Christopher Dietz, owner of Dietz Development once sued a former client for a negative and defamatory Yelp review. He claimed that it cost him up to $750,000 in reputation losses. So, what happened? A judge issued a temporary injunction against his former customer, and the post was also removed.
Then the question is, should you sue? The answer is complicated. If customers see you as a company trying to stifle free speech that would certainly be detrimental to your business. On the contrary, if some clients have no basis for their statements and you feel you have a case; it is best to first consult with a lawyer and take a very thoughtful approach. You have to expect some bad reviews, and you can’t and shouldn’t sue everyone.
Go Offline When Needed
If you can respond to complaints through review sites and social media, there might be instances where you can continue the conversation. Although it wouldn’t make sense to do so online. You can make an initial public response, when needed. If you can amend the situation, ask the client for an email exchange to get a better understanding of their frustrations.
Your business’ online reputation might be worth its weight in heavy gold. When it’s great, you can expect your sales to achieve new heights. Unfortunately, when it takes a hit, it can be so searingly painful that recovery becomes a slow and groggy process.
Thankfully, there are methods to management, which then make your life easier. Currently, how are you managing your online reputation? Let us know in the comments section below.