If you have invested in your web design, organic search presence, and social media channels, then you have taken some solid steps toward boosting your online visibility and reputation. Of course, your online reputation doesn’t just come from the content you publish. Your customers are likely carrying out conversations about your business online through review sites, social media, and more venues where they might express satisfaction or disappointment with your business, products, and services. If you are not taking the time to be part of that conversation, you may be inadvertently harming your online reputation or missing out on opportunities to retain customers, attract new ones, and correct misunderstandings that can lead to bad reviews.
Reputation management is something that is accessible for businesses of all sizes, and you should not think about it as an optional component of your digital marketing strategy. Sure, people may write reviews regardless of how you react, but with some effort, you can have more control over the impact of those reviews and the outcome of certain negative interactions.
Why should you care about your reputation?
Whether you run a franchise, operate a long-standing local business, or own a startup tech company, it is important to pay attention to what people say about your business. In a general sense, this will clue you in to whether your brand is coming off the way you want it to. If you aim to be causal, helpful, and approachable, but your sales people are being reviewed online as cold and pretentious, then there is a problem with how you are portraying your company and your brand.
Furthermore, you should recognize the power that online reviews can have. Most people will look at online reviews for a company before deciding to do business there, and a single negative review can have a much more profound effect than a handful of positive ones—especially if there’s no evidence that you’ve attempted to make things right for the customer who had a negative experience.
How do you know what people are saying about your business?
So now you understand why you should pay attention to what people say about your business, but do you know where to look for that information? People often leave positive reviews directly on a company’s page if there’s an option to do so, but they will also take their opinions to other mediums as well. Negative reviews may be more prominently featured on third-party review sites, where you may not have as much control over what people are saying, but you can still participate in the conversation.
- Review sites – Sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Business, and Foursquare tend to be the first place that customers will go to leave a review of a business. Unfortunately, people are much more likely to leave a review if they have an exceptionally bad experience than if they have positive one, so third party review sites can be frustrating to business owners. However, they do allow businesses to create accounts so that they may publicly respond to reviews, showing potential future customers that they care about their reputation and possibly retaining customers who left those bad reviews. Plus, businesses can thank customers who have left good reviews, showing that the feedback is appreciated, and that the customer is an important resource for the business.
- Social media – People interact with businesses on social media more than ever, and they can leave reviews directly on a business’s profile page if they choose. That’s why it’s important to have a constant social media presence, so that any negative feedback does not catch you by surprise or spin out of control before you can respond. Social media can also offer real-time interactions, so customers can ask questions or get clarification that might lend to a more positive experience and nullify a potential bad review.
- Surveys – You do not have to wait for customers to go out of their way to give feedback to your business. Providing customer surveys or feedback on receipts and electronic communications can allow customers to offer direct input and get a personal response from your company. Plus, you can design surveys with questions that specifically align with the goals of your company, allowing you to improve in more targeted ways.
What if the reviews are bad?
If customers only posted positive reviews, there would be little need to discuss online reputation management. The reality is that customers post negative reviews all the time, and these may stem from a variety of sources. Whether or not you agree with what’s being said, you must take the time to respond and engage. Often, when you simply respond to a bad review with an apology and an offer to make things right, such as a discount on future purchases or a replacement for a defective product, the customer will delete the initial review or repost a more positive one.
How can I fight back against negative reviews?
Of course, responding positively can be easier said than done, especially if a customer has started the conversation with profanity and personal insults. However, it’s always up to you as the business owner to be the bigger person and keep a positive face. One strategy that may be helpful is taking a breather before posting any sort of response, since responding emotionally can easily get out of control. Always keep a level head when approaching any negative review. Next, assess the legitimacy of the review. If a negative review does not appear to be from a real customer, report it to the review site it’s on.
There have been many cases in which businesses have fumbled with responses to negative reviews, attempting to attack customers or use generic responses for every review. In these cases, the business almost never comes out on top, even if the customer had a big hand in the negative aspects of the interaction. The best thing you can do is remember that you are representing your business and keep your brand message at the forefront of every interaction, even when you feel the negativity is unjustified.
I don’t have time to respond to every customer review. How can I still maintain my reputation?
Fortunately, there are options that offer you greater control as well as streamline reputation management, such as ReviewLead. That’s what we offer at Anchor Wave to help boost positive reviews, respond to negative reviews, and help intercept negative feedback before it reaches the public eye.
For a closer look at reputation management with ReviewLead and other essential digital marketing services from Anchor Wave, give us a call at (520) 622-3731. You can also reach us on our website, where you’ll get a detailed overview of our services.