As technology advances, the ability to share thoughts and opinions online follows. This can be either extremely beneficial or horrifyingly detrimental to not only the amount of traffic your business receives, but your businessâ€™ reputation as a whole.
And while some businesses are currently proactive about their reputation, others are struggling to eliminate the gap between their company and their reputation. No matter where your business falls on the reputation scale, maintaining a good online reputation begins with the customer.
â€œI know from experience if I am buying from a new online store, I’ll usually do a quick Google search to check that their reputation looks good,â€
Alex Reichmann, iTestCash
Alex is not alone. A recent study has exposed that 88% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. Forget asking a friend for the best restaurant in townâ€¦Yelp will give you the top 10. The digital age does not end with simple recommendations, but rather several personal experiences are readily available with tips, highlights, and things to avoid. With all those reviews so readily available to view, many companies find it challenging to stabilize their online reviews and online reputation management.
This begs the question: how does a business maintain a stellar online reputation?
When analyzing well-kept reputation, it is essential to consider both sides of the transaction. Here is some insight from both the perspective of the business and the consumer:
ANY feedback is feedback worth responding. It is paramount to respond to any customer feedbackâ€”good or bad.
â€œI respond to EVERY person that asks a question or gives a compliment. I engage in conversations and I volunteer information about things other than trying to sell my products. My focus is to constantly give my customers valuable information so they keep coming back.â€
â€“Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care
When selling your company, you not only need to talk up your products, but what your brand stands for overall. For example, if your company is very involved with volunteering in the local community, make sure your customers and potential customers are awareâ€¦post about it! That is going to build your overall brand, build trust, and ultimately increase your online reputation.
Engage in a dialogue with consumers. This will make the consumer not only feel more involved, but that their voice is heard and importantâ€”which is what they are trying to accomplish when they write that review about your company, right? Satisfy your customersâ€™ engagement craving by proactively interacting with them.
â€œBusinesses should share positive reviews on social media, a strategy that can lead to increased engagement on social channels. In creating a positive online reputation, businesses should be leveraging feedback from customers for both acquisition of new customers and to strengthen ways to maintain customers,â€
Fred Mather, General Manager, TrustPilot
Most companies see benefit in responding to negative reviews online, being that they donâ€™t want the view of one consumer to sway potential customers into not using the product or service. What too many companies miss out on is the opportunity to encourage customer engagement by responding to the positive reviews and comments. If the consumer has made an effort to actually post on your page, the least you can do is thank themâ€¦they are helping your business anyway. On the negative end, not responding to the positive reviews can make your company seem rude and inattentive.
Differentiation is key. Make responses personable and NEVER use the same response repeatedly.
â€œNo matter what the problem, if a friendly, caring, helpful, human being is on the “other end” via Internet, e mail or phone …that’s all most customers require. Automated e mails that tell you not to reply to them are the worst!â€
-Rosemary Durkin Snyder, consumer
Additionally, every person is differentâ€”make the customer feel uniqueâ€¦because they are! And so is their situation. Take time to carefully read the review, and make certain to include specific tidbits from their review in your response. You would be surprised at how many negative reviews can turn into loyal customers with a little T.L.C.
Timely Turnaroundâ€”make sure your response is made within a timely mannerâ€¦ if you are responding to a complaint made three months ago, youâ€™re too lateâ€”the customer has moved on. On the other end, however, when a company responds promptly, the customer understands that their input was actually heard and not left lying in an office collecting dust.
â€œWe had a customer who purchased one of our machines. She posted a review on Twitter after contacting us on Facebook saying she was pretty dissatisfied with the amount of time it took us to call back. Unfortunately, the rep she was trying to get in touch had been on vacation and was trying to catch up. She posted the same messages on Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and Facebook. But within 10 minutes we had her convinced we were the best product in the industry. The thing that impressed her the most was that as soon as we saw these things on social media, we were speaking on the phone in three or four minutes,â€
Matthew Mercuri, Digital Marketing Manager, DUPRAY
The key to great reputation for your company doesnâ€™t necessarily stop at the online world. Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal says this:
â€œOne of the things we have done is send our customer a t shirt and a Thank You card for their business. Not very unique I know, but on the card we actually spray a freshly cut lawn fragrance on the card. It adds a little special touch to the gift and it ties the strongest sense that we have….the sense of smell. It keeps them happy and also shows them how far we are willing to go to make them happy.â€
Adding a specialized touch that is unique shows that your business goes above and beyond. Having a stellar reputation begins with the online world, but because so many companies do not tap into the physical world as well, doing so will help your company stand out.
The key to successful online reputation begins with genuinely good business. When your company sincerely cares for the consumer, engaging with customers and responding to poor reviews becomes nearly effortless. Remember these essentials when managing your companyâ€™s online reputation!
Your turn! How do you maintain your online reputation? Got any tips, share in the comments below.Â
Ajay Prasad is a serial entrepreneur, a business strategist, and a healthcare marketing expert with almost three decades of experience. He is the founder and CEO of RepuGen. He has built this innovative reputation management software from scratch, incorporating multifaceted artificial intelligence (AI) which has allowed for rapid growth, maximum outreach and a 95% user satisfaction rate.