If you don’t give much thought to your online reputation, you are handing business over to your competition. In a world where everyone uses social media, you want to know what people are saying about your small business. While you can choose to lay low and ignore the conversations, this only contributes to negative sentiments.
Your online reputation doesn’t just interfere with generating new business, but also with your SEO rankings. It can even negatively impact strong relationships you’ve worked hard to forge with existing customers. Here we explain how you can build a good online reputation and keep ahead of the competition.
What is an Online Reputation?
An online reputation is the social proof people use on social media and review platforms to judge a business before deciding to make a purchase. A reputation is built based on reviews, social comments and star ratings, providing an easy way for people to research products and services. It is also an excellent way for companies to find more customers. Considering 87% of customers say they would never use a company with a poor rating or bad reviews, you need to build a good reputation to succeed.
Why Acing Your Online Reputation Matters
Every experience your customers share online contributes to your online reputation. Positive comments are golden, providing nothing but free advertising. However, negative comments, especially those that go ignored by your team cause nothing but trouble for your business. Positive comments help drive revenue growth and build customer loyalty, while negative online reputations make you appear untrustworthy and uncaring.
Even customers who have used your services with positive outcomes can be swayed if your reputation is damaged. Therefore, keeping track of your reputation is important because it provides an inside look at customer sentiment. However, you also need strong reviews and ratings to improve your SEO ranking. Poor reviews not only turn off potential customers, but also search engines that focus on presenting trustworthy businesses to their users. So, in a nutshell, your reputation matters because it is what customers and search engines use to measure your worth.
Tips to Ace Your Online Reputation
So how can you ensure you have a good online reputation? Here we offer tips to keep you on the straight and narrow:
Do Your Research
The only way to know what people are saying about you is to find conversations about your business. Keep in mind there are always unhappy, hard to please customers and be prepared to use the comments as feedback to improve. The best places to begin your search include:
- Google reviews: This is the gold standard for online reviews and ratings as it appears in search results and is very accessible for users.
- Google Alerts: Google alerts can tell you whenever your company name is mentioned.
- Industry hashtags: You can track industry hashtags to see if your name comes up.
- Niche review sites: Every industry has niche review sites you can check.
- Your own social: If you don’t pay much attention to social comments, now is the time to start (more on this later).
- Your own blog: If your blog has a comments feature, read what people are saying.
- Competitor feeds: Feeds on your competitors’ social channels and blogs could also be bad-mouthing you.
You can also use a reputation management tool to make it easier.
Have a Reputation Management Strategy?
Your research shows you where you need to improve. Negative comments will take some work on your part. The good news is the reviews offer valuable insight telling you exactly where people feel you fail to meet their needs. Basically, your strategy is a plan to manage your reputation. This includes:
- A Designated Monitor: Who knows enough about your business and has the diplomacy to handle comments? Team members who have customer-facing positions are best for this as they understand how to manage customers. However, be sure if there is mention of poor customer service, these are not the people leading the charge.
- Create a Tone Guide: If your reviews are unfavorable, you need to revamp your customer service. To become more effective at customer interaction, a tone guide helps provide language that fits in with your brand and helps your team become more effective at meeting customer needs.
- Develop a Crisis Management Plan: Whether your reputation is badly tarnished, or you seem to be fine, a crisis management plan is a must for reputation management strategies. This is the guide that kicks into action when issues escalate. Anyone interacting online needs to understand when this plan applies and know how to use it to limit the potential for damage.
- Prioritize Comments: If you see a lot of comments, you can’t manage all of them. Prioritizing where comments are made can help. Negative comments absolutely need a quick response and can also be taken “offline.” 83% of customers feel more loyal to brands that resolve online complaints. Questions should also be a priority to ensure no one is left hanging.
Laying out standards for these points will create an effective reputation management strategy.
Your goal is to make your company look good, even when comments and reviews are bad. This is a challenge. However, the key is to remain authentic in your responses focusing on honesty and resolution. Getting defensive makes things worse.
Thanking people for their comments, apologizing for their negative experiences, and providing information to help resolve their issues shows you are committed to customer service and fully accountable for outcomes. A back-and-forth public conversation where the customer continues to accuse you and you continue to try to stick up for yourself wastes time and makes you look worse.
Be Ready to Change
Reviews and online conversations about your company are a gift – good or bad. This is because nothing will provide a more honest view of your business. If you are ready to change, you can become more innovative and sustainable. Taking comments to heart helps you focus on building on positive comments and improving on the productive negative feedback. Use comments to understand pain points and become better than the competition at resolving them.
When you help generate more reviews, you have a bit more control over what is being said. Your happy customers are the best people to help boost your ratings and provide positive feedback. Asking them to review your company as soon as you have successfully met your needs helps you manage your reputation and develop a more established, honest, positive collection of comments that also helps boost your rankings.
However, you’ve got to ask. According to research, seven out of 10 people are happy to leave an online review when asked. Since you are only asking the happy customers, sending a quick email thanking them for choosing you with a link to a post shouldn’t feel awkward.
Keep Reputation Management Going
Once you get your reputation management underway you need to keep things going. Monitor your reputation and be committed to rectifying problems. Continue resolving issues, improving your customer service, and finding new ways to make your company better than the competition. Your reputation tells you how customers perceive your company, so you know what you are doing right and when you need to improve.
Are you wondering how you can manage your small business reputation better? At StructureM we offer reputation management solutions catered directly to your company’s needs. Contact us today and let us help you come up with a plan!