In today’s fast-paced digital world, interacting online is as important as ever when trying to reach not only your current customers, but potential ones as well.
People are constantly leaving reviews on social platforms, such as Facebook, and review websites including Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor to name a few. There are even those who will write about their experience with your business on their own blog!
Hopefully, most of your customers have had great experiences with your business and leave reviews that reflect just that. Unfortunately, even the best businesses encounter unsatisfied customers, and someone is likely to eventually leave a negative review.
Your online reputation is one of the few things, as a business owner, you don’t have complete control over. What you need to do is have a plan in place to manage it—with increasing competition, your continued success may very well depend on it.
As a business owner, there are several steps you can take to be proactive at managing your online reputation.
#1 STAY CURRENT ON WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Regularly check social media and review websites to see what people are saying about your business. When you do come across someone reacting to your product or service, interact, whether what they’re saying is positive or negative.
- POSITIVE REVIEWS
Positive feedback is great and it’s awesome that someone took the time out of their day to let other people know about their experience. Because of this, you should take the time to reply to all positive reviews. Some replies can be a simple “Thanks for being a great customer!” If they left a detailed review, don’t be afraid to leave a more thorough reply as well. A response such as “We’re really happy you stopped back, Carol! So glad to hear your meal last night was fantastic and that Kristin took great care of you. Hope to see you back soon!” can go a long way.
- NEGATIVE REVIEWS
Getting a negative review is something that no business owner wants to read. You’ve invested so much time and energy into your business and are disappointed that someone isn’t happy, but now is not the time to be defensive. We’ve all had a disappointing experience at some point, so try to think about how you’d want a business to respond to you if you were leaving a negative review for them. The first step in replying to a negative review is to try to identify what they want from their review. A free meal to make up for getting the wrong dinner? A simple apology for dealing with a rude employee? The next step would be to try to take the communication out of the public spotlight to try to come to a resolution. “I’m so sorry to hear that you didn’t have a good experience with us this time. Responding with something along the lines of “I’d really like to talk with you to learn more—please feel free to email me at [email address] or call [phone number]” is one effective approach. If you’re able to connect with the wronged customer and remedy the situation, they’ll often update their review to reflect it!
#2 NEVER SAY NEVER! RESTORE YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION
Have you been neglecting your reviews for weeks, months, perhaps even years? Maybe you’ve had some troubling times and are trying to restore faith in your business? The good news is you can start to restore some of your digital reputation by addressing your most recent reviews. The impact might not be significant initially, but people will pick up that you’re addressing issues, and this will help long term.
Additionally, you should develop a search marketing strategy that increases the rankings of positive content associated with your business. You can do this by recirculating old content you’d like to see rank higher on Google. Posting testimonials and recommendations from customers, optimizing and being proactive on your social channels, and creating inbound links from sites with authority are all great ideas.
#3 BE PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIONARY
The most important thing you can do to protect your online reputation is to be proactive before it’s too late. Granted, it’s time consuming to properly set up and execute, but it’s critical to your success. Don’t let your potential customers go to your competition only because they have a strong online reputation.