My grandfather used to say that when it came to business, the only thing that mattered was your word and your reputation. Like many things from previous generations, there is a tremendous amount of wisdom in those old sayings. And as social media and the internet have become the primary way that customers search, this has never been truer than it is today. Think about it, there have never been more outlets for customers to express their grievances. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Yelp for Business. Google Reviews. Reddit. Trip Advisor. Yik Yak. Good Gripes.
Full disclosure, those last two may have been made up but the point is that there is an infinite number of outlets for your customers to express their frustration or sing you praise. Twenty years ago if an employee was rude or customer was being unreasonable, the worst thing that would happen is that that customer would bad mouth your business to their friends and family. They might even file a complaint to the Better Business Bureau. Now that person can jump online and share their experience with the click of a button. 85% of consumers trust anonymous reviews, as much as they trust a loved one’s opinion. Think abut that for a second.
Why Reputations Matter
When you need to find a new restaurant, repair shop, or really anything, what do you do first? You go online and read the reviews that people have written. When your potential customers go online, the first thing they’re going to see are those reviews. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have, B2B, B2C, brick-and-mortar – the online reputation will be the difference between success and failure and how consumers choose to engage with a new brand. Reputation in Healthcare is a big issue. Just Google ‘Yelping of Doctors’ and you’ll see how consumers have shifted to picking their healthcare options online, using anonymous reviews to guide their selections.
This can really be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there will always be that unappreciative customer, who, no matter what you do, will have something to complain about. We’ve all read reviews that seem to be written by the criminally insane… “I went to the restaurant and they were sold out of the special, they apologized and offered a free dessert but this is unacceptable. 0 stars.”
How to Manage Your Online Reputation
The good news is that there really is an amazing opportunity for businesses to showcase themselves online. If you’re running your business the right way, treating your customers well, and being a kind, responsible member of your community, you’re generally going to get great reviews. There are also some common sense ways to help manage your reputation online.
The most important thing will be to monitor your social media outlets and review what people are saying about you. This will need to be a full-time responsibility for either the owner, one of the employees, or whoever has bandwidth to engage online. If this has been an ignored aspect of your business, then you should begin by seeing what you’re up against. Go through the social media history of your business and delete anything that shouldn’t be there. This could be anything from off-color jokes to typos to blurry photos, your or customer posted either. Just imagine you’re looking for a hot restaurant and all you see in a photo posted online is a hot mess in their kitchen or bathroom.
The next step will be to claim your business name on Google by creating an account for Google My Business (GMB), fill in as many details about what you do, sell or offer. Just like GMB there are multiple social media outlets and platforms you should repeat this step. Think Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, Apple Maps to get you started. This will allow you to be proactive with the reviews and first and foremost, establishing your digital footprint. You can also check out these tips from Forbes on what do do as a small business.
Pivoting to reviews, always respond regardless of sentiment and rating. If possible, respond within 24-48 hours, most people want an issue addressed right away, especially if the review is negative. If someone leaves a great review, say thank-you and tell them you’d love to serve them again Keep your response genuine. If someone has a negative experience, apologize to the person and see if there’s a way to make it right. This is your opportunity to shine and showcase your brand experience and commitment to your clients. These small things can make a huge difference in how your business is viewed and how you build your reputation online. Remember, the reputation of your business is at stake, so don’t cut corners or ignore what is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of a business, managing your online presence.
Learn how our Sonar 2020 platform is helping brands to manage reputation and expand their digital footprints. Contact us today for a FREE brand audit for up to 10 locations.