25 Jun How to build strong online reputation
It used to be that in order to get a review of your business, people had to ask around and find other customers. Today, online review sites allow anybody to write a review of your business, and many of the business owners I’ve talked to feel like they have no defense against this. Stop worrying about it – today, I’m going to show you some ways to take control of your online reputation and use it to grow your business.
Remember, most people do research before buying from a company, and reviews can be a deciding factor – especially when they’re the first thing a customer learns about your business. Here are the things you should do.
Method 1: Quickly respond to all reviews
Most review sites allow companies to respond to reviews. Pay attention to major sources like Yelp, Google+, and Facebook, as well as any review sites specific to your industry. I recommend having one employee check these sites each day, and respond to all of the reviews, good or bad. Take the time to explain your view of things, publicly explain how you resolved any problems, and thank anyone who’s supporting your business.
If you can’t respond in public, try to contact the customer directly and resolve their problem that way. They may be willing to update their review and make it more positive, and that can help wipe out things that bog down your online reputation.
Method 2: Intercept reviews
Your store should have a way of contacting customers right after they do business with you, asking for their opinion of how things went. Online surveys are a popular choice, but if you’re at a physical location, you can offer forms and train employees to remind them that these exist.
This helps customers get complaints out of their system and decreases the likelihood they’ll post a negative review in public. If they never say something bad about you in public, other people can’t be influenced, so this is a key part of your reputation management.
Method 3: Find happy customers and get them to write about you
One of the big problems with the review industry is that while unhappy people are often willing to share their unhappiness, happy customers rarely bother… often because they’re too busy enjoying whatever they just bought from you. Unless you’re able to offer them truly outstanding products or service, they’re probably just going to move on.
This ties in with Method #2 in that you want to reach out to the customer as soon as they’ve had a chance to form an opinion. You don’t want to sound desperate – or like you’re just using them – so just include a link within your message of gratitude. You may also want to consider inviting reviewers who post on lesser-known sites to add their review to a more popular location.
Remember, you don’t need very many reviews to improve your online reputation. A success rate of less than 1% on this endeavor can still give you all the reviews your company needs.
Method 4: Turn customer feedback into actionable advice
Start keeping a record of your responses to customer feedback – regardless of whether it was positive or negative. Your goal here is to turn that feedback into an actionable plan you can use to start improving your business.
The key thing to realize here is that if a customer is responding to a particular aspect of your business, that aspect was noticeable to them – and it’s probably going to be noticed to others.
The easiest way to do this is to use a number-based online survey where customers can rate each aspect of your company on a sliding scale. These responses can be easily analyzed and mined for data, allowing you to get a far more complete sense of how customers are really feeling, and I strongly encourage using this method (rather than any other).
Method 5: Stay Positive
There is a lot of negativity on the internet, and it’s easy to get bogged down when you’re defending your company against negative comments. However, it’s absolutely vital to stay positive and professional and all times.
Just think about it – if you see a review about another company, and that company’s response is a snide remark about how the complainer doesn’t know quality when they see it, are you going to form a positive impression of them? No? Exactly.
By using these methods – being responsive, quickly obtaining customers’ opinions, encouraging them to talk about you, acting on their advice, and remaining positive at all times – you’ll be able to take control of your online reputation. Remember, negative reviews aren’t going to go away on their own, and positive reviews won’t appear on their own – you have to take the initiative. Your reputation is in your hands.