How often do you check on your online business reputation? If you are looking for a particular service, how many times do you see a question posted on social media, “Do You Know a Good….?” Whether a potential customer knows the third-party referral or not, they check out a referral for online reviews. When using apps such as Yelp, Groupon or Travelocity – do you read reviews before making a purchase? Many potential customers do.
All businesses no matter what size or industry must be concerned about what their customers are saying about them. Whether you are a business consultant or have a restaurant, spa, dental office, pet supply store or any other kind of business to consumer business, you need to diligently monitor reviews, comments on social media, and other content that affects your reputation.
When posting on social media, do you stand on the fencepost of neutral, particularly when it comes to politics and religion? Are you careful that ads are not insensitive? A thoughtless tweet or post can put your reputation in a downward spiral.
Google Alerts are a great way to manage your online reputation. By using this tool, you are able to monitor your online reputation. I have alerts set up for my name and business name. By claiming your business on Google My Business and Yelp, it allows people to both review and find you.
What recourse do you have when someone posts a negative review? The key is to not ignore it. A negative review can be a result of a bad customer experience or in some cases, unscrupulous competitors can target your online reputation. Always respond with an apology for the experience and don’t get into an online argument. Take the conversation offline in a private message format or better yet, if you have a phone number, pick up and phone (yes it still does exist) and call the customer and apologize. In some cases, you can dispute the online review with the provider and point out that you have no record of a customer’s order – especially if you suspect unfair ratings from competition or a former employee.
When people take the time to write a review, thank them for their review. Acknowledgement for positive feedback shows your fans that you appreciate their feedback. Building an online reputation is work. A business can be proactive in asking for reviews, engaging on social media and focusing on good customer service.
Building an online reputation is a marathon endeavor – not a sprint. It’s a partnership between the business, their employees and ultimately the customer. Your customers will ultimately determine your online reputation, but as a business owner, you can do your part to train your staff and deliver stellar customer service. Be realistic, mistakes happen, but acknowledge them and take steps to satisfy the customer. Adjust operational procedures to ensure that mistake doesn’t happen again.
About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long-term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.