In the world of business, reputation is everything. Disregarding or ignoring the importance of public opinion – whether your business is online, brick and mortar, or otherwise – might be costing you in terms of new customers, connections, and even revenue.
This is especially true online, where access to reviews and complaints about your business are only a few clicks away. Imagine you’ve attracted a sizeable new base of clientele, only to have them conclude that they’re better off bringing their business elsewhere after reading some online reviews.
Unfortunately, more often than not, this is the case, as 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Whether you’re opening your first online store, or have been largely ignoring your online review scores, here are a few reasons why your online reputation requires just as much attentiveness as any other area of business.
Online Reviews – Make Or Break
Online reviews – often found on platforms like Yelp, Facebook, or Foursquare – are usually the most prevalent and easily accessible representations of a business’s public image. They’re most likely to be seen first by users searching for your business online, making them the most influential.
These scores are generally make-or-break. Depending on critical consensus, customers may be further enticed to buy your products or services, or potentially, less so.
However, if you actively work to improve these scores, you’ll likely reap the rewards. Your business will have increased visibility on these platforms, further incentivizing potential clientele to become patrons.
This is especially essential if you’re, say, a restaurant, and have a lot of local competition.
A lot of these services exist, too, and your business may have already been indexed without your intent, opening up an opportunity for your customers to provide feedback.
But don’t worry – there’s no reason to feel overwhelmed! A service like ReviewPush will allow you to monitor all your review scores in one convenient place, which makes managing your online buzz a lot easier.
Better Online Reputation = Better SEO
This ties into what we mentioned about online review scores, although now we’re going to get a little more specific.
In case the case of Google, which is the most widely-used search engine, accumulating more generally positive reviews means that your business listing’s page rank will increase across Google’s services. This means drastically improved visibility across Google search, maps, and more, equating to higher traffic.
Google reviews are also what your audience is most likely to see after searching for your company or business name on Google, even considering other review services like Yelp and Foursquare that simply appear as search results.
Keep your customers happy and your ratings high, and users will be more likely to see your page – even above other competing businesses – and therefore, in turn, be more likely to buy your product, subscribe to your services, or book an appointment via Google Reserve. Perfect!
Assert Your Brand As Being Responsive And Respectful
Sharing and touting your positive online review scores is one thing, but creating and sustaining a respectful bond with your not-so satisfied customers is another.
This is a huge mistake that a lot of businesses make, and it’s not surprising. It can be difficult to want to spend time negotiating with your most irate and critical online detractors.
However, the solution here is just that – to negotiate. Ignoring an online review, tweet, or otherwise digitally broadcasted opinion can make your business look insensitive to the needs of your customers, which certainly doesn’t do you any favors.
This is why mega-corporations employ social media experts to actively monitor and interact with online patrons. In 2016, 89% of companies expected to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience.
Express your discontent with an airline or fast food restaurant through Twitter or Facebook, and you’ll likely receive a prompt and courteous response in seconds! Your best strategy is to follow these corporations by example and pay attention to what people are saying.
A complaint or criticism that goes unnoticed may equate to a dissatisfied customer swearing off your company or business for good, depending on their experience.
This might seem trivial on paper, but word spreads fast, especially on the internet. Disgruntled patrons may share their frustration with family, or total strangers online, potentially costing you business later down the road.
Evidence has found that a discontent customer will tell between nine and fifteen people about their bad experience with a business. And according to that same infographic, 91% of unhappy customers will never willingly return.
Thankfully, sites like Facebook and Yelp have built-in review response features. After you’ve proved yourself as being the rightful business owner of the page in question, you can then respond effortlessly to any unfavorable reviews.
The strategy here isn’t to just satisfy each individual reviewer or critic, either – these review pages are generally public, so anyone visiting them is likely to take note of brand responsiveness and customer compassion.
Work to make things right as early as possible, and you’ll likely strengthen your bond with your audience, building loyalty for years to come!
Manage Online Accounts, Dodge Harmful Controversy
We’ve written previously about the importance of social media to building and marketing your business. And hey – If you’re already on top of this – great!
You’re on your way to bolstering your marketing power and broadening your demographics like never before.
However, in conducting and managing our business online, we often overlook the importance of applying the same level of professionally-minded scrutiny to our own personal social media accounts. And as it turns out, this oversight can be disastrous.
You may have read or otherwise seen in the past how a company’s previously bulletproof reputation has suddenly crumbled due to controversy, often over a tweet, video, or quote that is often decades old. Even if a public relations fiasco is short-lived, extended media coverage and negative publicity can be enough to damage the odds of future success irreparably.
Unfortunately, the internet rarely forgives and forgets, and with millions of web pages and pieces of media archived every second, it might be easier than you thought for something you or an employee posted angrily to social media to cost you business in the future.
Skip any potential headaches and avoid taking a hit financially by working to actively monitor the social media presences of both yourself and your employees. Encourage staff to privatize their accounts or attach disclaimers to their social media pages that deny association of opinion.
While you’re at it, you can also use a site like SocialMention to get a detailed look at the buzz – positive, negative, and everything in between – that your brand is receiving online.
Give Your Business A Voice
Aside from managing your business’s social media presence and devoting attention to online reviews, there’s one last facet of online reputation we’d like to cover – and it might just be the most essential.
Whether you’re struggling to connect and build trust with your existing audience, or are looking to expand your reach, it’s crucial to establish a centralized online presence to represent you and your business with transparency and utmost care.
You might have your bases covered on Twitter and Facebook, for example. However, micro-interactions (think tweets, Yelp review responses, etc.) tend to go generally unnoticed by people outside of the user bases of these sites.
Think of a blog or newsletter as a way to shape your business’s “voice.” Through frequent posts or emails, you can stay in touch with your customers, creating a rapport that feels genuine and compassionate.
This strategy goes a long way to establishing a solid online reputation, and it’s commonly prioritized by a large number of businesses.
In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk writes “…make [the customers] feel special, just like when your great-grandmother walked into Butcher Bob’s shop or bought her new hat … you need to make people who aren’t your customers wish they were. Social media gives businesses the tools to do that for the first time in a scalable way.”
After all, a company or business without a voice may appear dubious or perhaps worse, callous and indifferent towards its clientele.
By now, we hope we’ve demonstrated the importance of managing your online reputation. Before we go, here’s a little breakdown of what we covered, just to summarize:
Why should I care about my online business reputation?
- Potential Customers trust online reviews
- Google review scores affect your business’s traffic, in person and online
- An opportunity to prove you care about your customers
- Avoid Social Media Disaster
- Create trust and bond with your clientele
As the online business world continues to evolve and expand, we’ll do our best to keep you up-to-date with the latest in online business strategy here at Yocale.