We live in an era of constant social-local-mobile interaction. Every local business is bound to receive its share of negative reviews. As a matter of fact, a profile of nothing but glowing reviews can actually look suspicious to your customers.
Over the past few years, the prevalence of review sites has grown exponentially. This is why negative reviews are a constant threat for more and more business owners.
If you’re one of them, this article will provide some insight.
In simple terms, the practice of reputation management involves replacing undesirable content with new content that paints a given business in a better light.
The only thing that’s worse than under-engaging in online media is handling social media badly. No one can damage you as seriously as you can damage yourself (or one of your employees) if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Regardless of your niche, just know that managing your business reputation is no longer optional. You need to do it – If you want to grow, of course.
In what follows, we’ll walk you through several important reputation management subcomponents that you need to be actively maintaining for your business.
Reputation Management Sub-Components
1. Improving your Customer Service
We’ve been in this business for over 10 years now, and one thing that we can tell you from the get-go is that customer service is always the front line against a bad online reputation.
Before spewing bad things about your business, most unhappy clients will take things up with you. If you do a good job of alleviating their problems, only a very small portion of them will decide to denigrate your brand online.
Customer reviews generally cover only three things:
- Product/service quality
- Product/service performance
- Unresolved customer support issues
Knowing the customer experience is necessary for providing great customer service. Get personalized feedback from your customers and from your employees (if you have any).
Also, there are a lot of industry-specific practices that you can implement to improve the process and make things easier for the people that bring money into your business.
The bottom line here is to make it easy for the customer to get help for you and your business. And the easiest way to do this is to hire someone that really cares about your clients. Or do it yourself.
2. Claim all Relevant Social Media Profiles
Building a healthy social media presence on the social networks your customers use is a powerful and effective marketing tactic that any small business can benefit from. Even if you don’t have the time and know-how, or just aren’t ready to start, you still need to participate on a basic level.
At the bare minimum, you need to protect your future social media efforts and your online reputation by claiming your business and personal names on social media sites.
The same way social media sites help small businesses be found online, review and local directories show up high in search engine rankings, providing more exposure for your business.
With this in mind, claim your profiles on these high traffic sites:
Provide your locations, photos, business hours, description of your services, payment options and categories to provide all your information to potential customers and build citations for your business.
3. Use Client Feedback to Improve Your Reputation
When responding to online complaints or bad reviews, seriously consider that there may be some weaknesses in your process that need to be addressed. Especially if you get frequent negative feedback about a specific thing.
The popularity of the phrase “the customer is always right” is your friend here. When dealing with clients that have already purchased something from you,
don’t be inflexible. Come up with a creative way to give customers what they’re wanting without creating friction.
Over the years, we’ve certainly tried business processes that were just working or service fees that just made customers feel like they’ve been gouged. But just because you can pressure people into paying more doesn’t mean that you should.
Before you treat your clients badly, consider that you could be driving existing or potential customers into the arms of your competitor. The extra money you make on that annoying fee could be canceled out by business lost from those who see numerous complaints about it online.
4. Don’t Get Into Arguments
There may be many cases where your customer is in the wrong. You will find it is only natural in those instances to argue back in an effort to protect yourself and set matters straight in front of others.
But usually, the more heated an argument becomes, the more likely you are to say something that you will regret. These types of comments can be impossible to erase, especially if they are made on public forums such as social media profiles.
It is very difficult and takes a great deal of maturity, but it is far better to simply apologize sincerely and shut down any potential debates before they have a chance to damage your reputation.
5. Get Reviews from Happy Clients
Some of your customers are going to write an online review whether you ask them to or not, but most won’t think to take the time to write one.
Unless they’re business owners themselves, they just don’t realize how critically important those reviews are. But as we know from the research, most of your happy customers will do you this favor if you just ask, assuming you do it at the right time and in the right way.
Always use your face time with your customers to show them just how responsive, conscientious and competent you are.
Then get in touch with them later on, while they’re still thinking positively about the interaction and in a good head space to write a favorable review.