Let’s face it. Whether looking up a new restaurant for dinner, scheduling a plumber to fix a leak, or buying a brand new pair of glasses; we all look online for reviews and testimonials by previous customers and patrons. In fact, it’s been reported that 93% of customers use reviews to assess the quality of local businesses, and 95% of shoppers read them before making a purchase. The better your online reputation, the more customers will likely choose to come to you over your competitors. Therefore, it is vital for all businesses – big and small, to engage in effective digital reputation management.
What is reputation management?
Online reputation management is essentially the process of monitoring, identifying, and managing your business’s digital presence and credibility. In essence, this image can be how customers, potential employees and even investors view you. In this day and age, there is a variety of ways for people to leave a review for a business: a 1 to a 5-star rating on their Google My Business listing, in comments, blogs, social media posts, and on third-party review platforms like Yelp and TripAdvisor. But what does this mean to you? Just like how first impressions are important when it comes to meeting someone new, your business’s online reputation is also just as crucial to your potential customers. That’s why it’s important to always put your best face forward.
But why do customers trust online reviews in the first place? Well, any business can make claims to be the best of the best, have superb customer service, and offer high-quality products. Still, many people see online reviews as non-solicited and authentic opinions of real customers. As a result, these testimonials act as social proof to the excellence of your business practice.
How to Deal with Negative Reviews
In today’s digital age, it’s valuable for all business owners to know what their clients are saying about their business —- this includes the good, bad and neutral. Not only is receiving reviews great to help boost customer confidence in your brand, but it’s also a great way to leverage feedback. Take the opportunity to make improvements to your products or services where needed or give recognition to your employees for their good work. As a general rule-of-thumb, customers who leave positive reviews should be thanked for their business and shown appreciation for their supportive feedback.
However, it’s also inevitable to receive an unpleasant review here and there. In such cases, it’s always recommended to respond promptly in a positive and helpful manner. Remember that if you receive a negative review, you can take control of the situation by showing how the business takes customer experience seriously and proactively solves any issues that may arise. Ignoring negative feedback could be seen as a red flag in the eyes of the consumer, therefore having a larger impact on deterring customers from choosing your business. Often, a timely and professional response to a negative review can curve the situation. Show the public that you are putting in the effort to make things right. This may even convince the user to take down or change the negative review to a positive one.
How to Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews
Speaking of changing unfavourable reviews, a study by the Harvard Business Review showed that a 1-star increase in reviews could result in a 5-9% increase in revenue. In fact, according to another study by BrightLocal, businesses that don’t have a 5-star rating risk losing 12% of their customers and only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars.
What does this mean to you? It means that reputation management should be at the top of your marketing priorities. If your business has many great reviews, a few negative ones shouldn’t have a large impact on your online reputation. Therefore, it’s important to make a proactive effort to get those reviews from your customers.
Something to also keep in mind is that 84% of consumers believe that online reviews that are older than three months aren’t relevant. It’s important to get a constant flow of new reviews for your business. Continually encourage customers to write a review whenever possible. In most cases, customers who are asked to leave a review do as requested. And even if they don’t, what’s the harm in asking? The most effective way of asking is usually in person after a positive experience with a sale or service, but there are many other ways to do so as well. This includes requesting feedback through an email (templated or personalized), posting signage at the checkout counter, over the phone as a follow-up service call, or even via an SMS message.
Many businesses have begun embarking on more creative ways to get consumers to leave a review. This includes having a link to a preferred review platform on their business card or receipt. Some even offer a freebie or discount on the customer’s next purchase in exchange for simply leaving a review.
Boast About Your Achievements on Social Media
Another common practice is to use social media as an opportunity to reach more potential customers by showcasing your achievements. Make use of the platforms that can reach billions of users to share your reviews on your social media accounts. You should take pride and boast about your business excellence for the world to see. Remember that it can be a prime opportunity to build trust, credibility, and confidence in your brand. This is for both new and existing customers alike.
SEO Benefits of Reputation Management
In addition to gaining customer trust, having a lot of supportive online reviews can provide SEO benefits. Not only do these reviews offer fresh and organic content for your business, but since consumers place a lot of value in online reviews when making a purchasing decision, search engine algorithms also place importance on it. This is because search engines want to provide their users with the best possible result. They serve their users with what is likely to give them a positive experience. As a result, businesses with better online reputations get rewarded with increased SEO visibility from better search engine rankings.
Consumers overwhelmingly rely on online reviews more than ever. Negative comments can turn over a business’s online presence. It’s important to remember that businesses can manage this by putting a strong online reputation management strategy in place. Regardless of the industry that you’re in, if done properly, a proper reputation management strategy can drive leads, attract new customers, and retain existing ones.