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How to Manage Your Business Reputation Online
What is Reputation Management?
With the rapid expansion of Internet marketing over the past ten years, reputation management has transformed from a public relations term to a marketing strategy centered on online media. For a business, online reputation management means understanding and influencing the perception of the business in digital channels such as search engines and social media. For example:
- When a consumer searches for your business in Google or Bing, what results appear?
- How does the content on your website and social media profiles represent your business?
- Do review sites and business listings contain accurate information about your business?
- Are customer reviews and social media mentions of your business positive?
Reputation management asks—and answers—all these questions. In the end, a poor online reputation will lose customers for your business whether it is due to incorrect or incomplete directory listings, negative customer reviews, or a weak social media presence.
Online Reviews and Reputation Management
Typically, a consumer will read between two and ten reviews before purchasing a product. These reviews may be housed on your website or public review sites or online business directories such as Yelp and Google+ Local (formerly Google Places.)
How do you get reviews for your business?
Website and Social Media
First, you need to provide a place for customers to post reviews. On your own website, you may want to invite long-time clients to write a brief note about their experience with your business for you to post on a reviews or testimonials page.
Similarly, on social media, it is wise to ask your followers for feedback about your services. However, be prepared to answer reviews from customers who have complaints. When you ask for feedback on social media, expect the good and the bad.
You should aim to receive approximately three new reviews for website or social media profiles each month. If your reviews expand too rapidly (let’s say from 0 to 100 in one month) search engines and consumers will likely be suspicious of those reviews. In the case of search engines, this may result in a search-ranking penalty. Consumers, for their part, will disregard reviews they feel to be untrustworthy. If you come by reviews honestly, and you won’t face these problems.
Online Directory Listings
Outside of your website and social profiles, it is vital to cultivate accurate and complete listings of your business in online directories and review sites.
Claiming these listings will provide a place for customers to review your business as well as improve your business’s visibility in local search.
Of course, getting reviews for your business doesn’t cover everything. What about when a negative review is written about you online?
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Unfortunately, not all reviews of your business online will be positive. How should you react when a disgruntled customer reviews your business? Here are the do’s and don’ts:
- Genuinely listen to the customer’s feedback. Does he/she have valid concerns about your product or service? Can you utilize his/her feedback to improve your product or process?
- Respond politely to the review. Let the customer know you have heard and considered the complaint.
- Take the discussion out of the public eye. If the customer wishes to respond to you, provide an email, phone number, or another type of direct message so you can discuss the matter without the world watching. This will remove the threat of more negative comments in the open, and provide you the chance to truly address the customer’s needs. With good customer service, you may be able to turn an upset consumer into a happy advocate for your business.
- Never dismiss the customer’s point of view as incorrect or unimportant. Rather, show the customer you care about his/her feedback and patronage of your business.
- Never argue online with the customer or berate the customer, call him/her names, or use expletives in your response to a review.
- Do not sound mechanical, like a corporate robot. Respond to the customer like a human rather than an auto-generated, generic review responder.
As you follow the guidelines above, you will be able not only to collect positive reviews but also to temper the impact of negative reviews with professionalism and effective customer service.