Performing reputation management for business is incredibly important. If you run a company and want it to be held in acclaim, then there is little more important than business reputation management.
Pro-actively taking care of your online business reputation management is pivotal going into the new decade. Search, social media and all marketing are going down a route where branding and the reputation of the brand is increasingly important and if you’re not taking steps to cement it in a positive manner, you’re leaving yourself open for trouble.
So, to prevent this, we’ve compiled a list of things to add to your reputation management strategy. Get started on these and start performing business reputation management for your company.
You can use one of several approaches to encourage your customers to share positive reviews and experiences with your business. A gentle reminder or simple reminder is all you need sometimes. You can place a request asking them if you exceeded their expectations and request them to share positive experiences.
You can place the request on a sign in your establishment, on the bottom of the receipt, or on various websites. It has been noted that most customers prefer sharing complaints or negative experiences more frequently compared to expressing their appreciation for a wonderful experience.
It is always worth noting that the strategy works best if done before you have any negative reviews. Simply put, it is about preventive management and thus won’t be as effective if your reputation has already taken a hit.
Secure Your Own Slice of the Internet as Part of a Solid Reputation Management Strategy
It is always advisable to try and buy your own domain name, e.g. www.companyname.org. You can then use it to build a website that’s all about you, where you can place personal pictures, blogposts, etc. You can even link it to your social media profiles if you maintain the website. If you keep the website updated and maintain the momentum, you can actually receive a boost in followers.
The great thing about securing your domain name is that it is relatively inexpensive. Even if you don’t actually launch your website immediately, securing your own web domain keep your options open in the future, which you might consider using to promote either yourself or aspects of your business.
Designate a Community Manager for Business Reputation Management
It is important to have somebody to actively manage your reputation online. Failure to respond to reviews can affect your business. For instance, according to Convince & Convert, 42 percent of consumers that complain on social media platforms expect a response within an hour.
Ensure that you have a community manager that’s active on the social media platforms you are on, checks in with review platforms every day, and receives Google Alerts for business news. You should develop a protocol for responding to reviews, even if it is a simple message like, “Thanks for your review. We are listening and will be in touch shortly.”
Now that you have a better understanding of what to monitor when it comes to your online business reputation, here are a few tips for improving it and making it stand out among the competition.
Reputation Management for Businesses Involves Online Activity Monitoring
Up to 96 percent of unhappy/unsatisfied customers never complain to brands directly, but rather inform their friends about their problems. Such “dark complaints” usually occur if somebody posts about a negative experience on social media but fails to tag your brand. If you are not actively listening for such mentions, you could be missing out on important information regarding brand sentiment.
Social listening, however, is not something to do within a couple of minutes. It requires a dedicated team or employee depending on the size of your brand and social presence. The good this is that there are many free options available to help you get started and if you have the budget, there are countless managed services.
Feature Positive Reviews
According to business experts, trust is one perishable asset from customers that’s incredibly hard to obtain. The most important key to online reputation management is to make the public respect your business.
If your business has a website (as it should), are reviews featured on its homepage? Or is there a feedback section? If this isn’t the case, you are probably underutilizing your resources. Positive reviews that make your company shine should be featured on your website. Ask for permission from your customers first before using their feedback and consider pairing the featured reviews with your incentives for the generation of new reviews.
Avoid Leaving Fake Reviews
Once business owners know about the impact that both negative and positive reviews have, the temptation is usually strong to leave fake reviews. What’s the harm, after all, if you just speak the truth about your products/services?
Fake reviews might seem like an easy fix, but the truth is that any business that attempts to manufacture reviews tends to lose business. A business usually receives red flags on certain profiles and are almost always discovered in the end.
Paid reviews are likely to hurt the reputation of your company, particularly where it appears on Google Search results. The reason for this is that Google penalizes websites that do this largely because the reviews are simply not true. Your website will be pushed lower in the results and this will most likely damage your online reputation further. You can be sure that your customers do recognize hard work.
Contact the Creator of Negative Content to Counteract It
Even after proactively monitoring your results, it is still possible to wake up one day, Google your company, and find a nasty surprise. The bigger your company/brand is, the higher the chances of discovering negative content mixed in with your top search results.
If that ever happens to you, immediately get in touch with the reviewer, blogger, or any other person that created the content. Ask whether it is possible for you to do anything that can switch their sentiment from negative to positive. If that fails to work, leave a comment (if possible) to give your version of events. Explain what you have either done or are currently doing to make things right. Acknowledging that you may have been in error but are doing what you can to fix it is smart reputation management for business.
Reputation Management for Businesses Requires Empathy
Keep in mind that you are dealing with an actual human being behind the screen. It can be rather easy to come across a negative review and think of it as yet another faceless complaint, so don’t forget to show understanding when responding.
An apology can go a long way even if the customer’s issue is not directly your fault. It will help them feel as if you are on their side. Similarly, owning up to mistakes can help customers know that you are both human and honest.
Solve Problems by Engaging Customers
If you engage your customers, it is possible to show how you add value to their lives. You might have noticed how some of the largest brands are proactive when it comes to engaging customers by creating specific social media accounts for addressing their complaints and concerns.
It informs customers that you actually care and tends to have a positive effect overall. It is also possible for you to do the same by showing that you care about your customers and it will have the positive effect of giving your reputation a boost.
If customers notice that you use a wide variety of style of response to your online reviews, it will not be good for your brand. Try keeping the personality and tone consistent between reviews, even if there are multiple people managing replies to online reviews.
One good way to make a connection with your customers is to show a sense of humor without being flippant.
Improve Business Reputation Management by Listening
Seriously consider that there could actually be weaknesses in your process that require addressing when you respond to negative reviews or complaints online. This is especially true if you frequently get negative feedback about a specific thing. Always keep in mind that the “customer is always right” as they say. Avoid being inflexible and instead come up with a creative way for giving customers exactly what they want without the need to create friction.
Just because you are in a position to pressure people into paying more, it does not automatically mean that you should. Always consider the possibility that you could be driving potential or current customers into your competitors’ arms. The additional money that you make on those annoying fees could be easily cancelled out by business lost from the people that see numerous complaints about it online. Good reputation management for business is often about judging the human side of things well.
Make Genuine Amends
Human error is inevitable, but it has the potential to be seriously detrimental to your business if you don’t handle it quickly and efficiently. If you and/or your company make a mistake, you should own up and make an honest apology to the people affected. A genuine apology followed by unconditional amends can work wonders when it comes to repairing a professional relationship and diffusing a situation is good business reputation management.
Online, customers make their choices incredibly quickly. Feature the positive reviews in the best way possible to ensure maximum visibility and to make the best impression within the shortest time possible.
Avoiding spam is particularly important if you have an email list. You might be tempted to send out emails about things immediately they happen, but this has the unfortunate effect of annoying those on your email list.
It is always a good idea to limit yourself unless you promise yourself otherwise to 1 email weekly that can be used for keeping subscribers caught up on the happenings within your organization.
Reputation Management for Businesses Requires you to Make the Investment
Development of your online business reputation requires an investment of both money and time. The vast majority of small, local businesses either ignore proactive reputation management or do it themselves on a minimal budget and on as-needed basis.
It can be argued that social media and proactive reputation management can be considered as vital elements. Further, if you lack the experience in interacting with online communities, handling it yourself might not be good enough or may worsen any issues that may arise. So, make the investment and if you lack the expertise or time to do it right, hire someone else to do it for you.
All of the above are great for a company and a must do for online business reputation management. If you need help with managing your business reputation, then contact us – we’d be glad to discuss.