How much control do you feel you have over your online reputation? Oftentimes, the answer is quite simply “none”, and that’s a big problem. You may not realize this, but if you don’t have any sort of control over your online reputation, it may be controlling you.
Before you shake your head, think about this: over 80% of consumers say that online reviews influence their buying decisions. That’s something that simply can’t be ignored.
The Influence of Online Reputation
One of the main reasons that online reputation is now so influential to customer buying decisions, is the fact that Google includes them within search results. This means that there’s nowhere to hide if you hope to generate a large amount of leads through Google search engines. It doesn’t matter what your website looks like if your one-star Yelp page is ranked above it.
Reviews have become so influential that people will often avoid or mistrust a business when they can’t find reviews online. Therefore, people aren’t necessarily looking to avoid businesses with the worst reviews, but rather locate the ones with the best reviews.
Your Customers Are Your Voice
Your online reputation not only exemplifies how your customers feel about your business, but also how others will see you before doing business with you. You can preach honesty and integrity all that you want, but the truth is that consumers are much smarter nowadays, and are more likely to use others’ comments as a better representation of your business.
That means that you can forget about building a strong brand voice that targets your ideal consumer, because your customers are often louder than you are.
So how do you take control before your reputation controls you? Follow these proven tactics:
1) Analyze Your Online Reputation
How well do you know your online reputation? If now is the first time that you’re thinking about it, then that’s a problem. You need to analyze and evaluate your reputation inside and out, so that you can determine the best way to tackle it head-on.
For example, let’s say there was a period of time when your number of incoming bad reviews spiked tremendously. It’s up to you to determine why this might have happened. Did you hire a new employee at this time? Implement a new strategy or service? Patterns are not always easy to find, but looking at your online reputation from many different angles and perspectives may tell you something about your business that you might not have known before. This only scratches the surface of the many ways you can use your online reputation to your advantage.
2) Talk to Your Customers. ALL of Your Customers.
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to your online reputation. If someone writes a review or you see someone talking about your business online, then you should respond. Let your customers know that you’re listening and offer whatever you can to rectify a bad situation. Not only can this change the mind of an unhappy customer, but potential customers that see your caring and thoughtful responses to a situation may see you in a better light.
This doesn’t just apply to unhappy customers. Keeping a consistent conversation going with your happy customers is just as important, so it’s crucial that you respond to positive reviews as well.
3) Develop a Process for Intercepting Feedback
This is where we get to the real meat of controlling your online reputation. You need to develop a process that allows you to receive customer feedback before reviews are posted. This gives you the chance to change the minds of your unhappy customers, while potentially collecting positive feedback from your happy customers.
How is this accomplished? Well, it has the potential to be pretty time-consuming. You need to figure out a simple way of contacting every customer that walks out of your door immediately after they do business with you. Find a way to gauge their level of satisfaction, and then proceed accordingly. Unhappy customers should be given an outlet to vent their frustrations and happy customers should be kindly directed to your review sites.
A tool like RepuGen can actually automate such a process by utilizing a proven method of intercepting feedback, building reputation, and measuring customer satisfaction.
4) Measure Customer Satisfaction
While you’re gathering customer feedback, you can easily use those responses to measure overall customer satisfaction for certain aspects of your business. For example, you may notice that customers praise your customer service, but find your store/office to be very unclean.
Customer feedback is the most useful information that any company can possess, so it’s important that you use it to its full extent. Analyzing feedback lets you determine aspects of your business that may need to be improved, which you can implement and make it less likely that you will receive negative reviews in the future.
5) Determine How You Can Improve
There’s always room for any business to improve, so it’s important not to wallow in shame at bad customer feedback, but rather use it to your advantage. Every response should be treated as a lesson, and using this notion to improve the way that your business runs will allow the positive reviews to come naturally.
Good Reviews Take Time and Patience
You can’t expect to receive good reviews overnight, or that you’ll overshadow negative reviews if you don’t plan on making some major improvements to your business. If you put in the effort and implement the above tactics, then the good reviews will come with time.
If your online reputation is already solid, then you’re on the right track. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t receive negative reviews. You have to stay ahead of the internet and engage your customers, so that you can control your reputation before it controls you.