Before the internet changed how consumers thought about products and businesses, advertising drove much of their purchasing decisions. However, today’s average consumer typically turns to social media and the opinions of their peers before they buy a product or service. A recent consumer review report revealed that shoppers are a dozen times more likely to trust online reviews than they might product descriptions, so if you own a business, understanding how these reviews can impact it is vital to success. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to start improving your company’s reputation today.
1. Know Where Your Business Is Being Reviewed
You may be aware that your business has been reviewed on Google or another major site, but what you may not know is that reviews could be posted elsewhere and may be damaging its reputation. Assuming you have read and responded to all available online reviews can have a long-term negative impact on your business, and once it gains a poor reputation, turning that around might be difficult.
To stay on top of your company’s online reputation, take the time to Google its name several times a week, which can help you find reviews outside of the major sites, such as Yelp. While you may not be able to reveal and respond to every single mention of your company’s name, taking the time to seek out reviews can give you a better idea of where and how consumers are talking about your business.
2. Request Reviews from Satisfied Customers
A 2016 survey about customer satisfaction reports that about half of consumers will leave a review for a business if it is requested of them. Asking for reviews can boost your company’s online reputation because your customers may not think to leave one on their own. Typically, consumers will only leave reviews if they are angry or unsatisfied, so reaching out to those who had a positive experience with your company can have just as much impact, especially when potential customers are ready to make a purchasing decision and have access to positive reviews about your business.
There are several ways you can ask for reviews. You can send out online customer surveys or have individuals fill out a quick survey before they leave your store.
3. Respond to Negative Reviews
You might feel the need to step back from negative online reviews because you believe that engaging with them will only make the problem worse. However, this could only cause more issues because the consumer who left the review might feel ignored or not worthy of your time. Dealing with these types of reviews can be daunting; however, there are strategies you can use to diffuse the situation.
When you encounter a negative review, your first reaction might be to go on the defense. However, if the complaint is legitimate, then it is your responsibility to address it. Look at the complaint with objective eyes and then reach out to the customer. Begin by apologizing for their experience and ask what you can do to rectify the problem. If the customer replies with more heated words, ask that he or she contact you privately and remove the discussion from the public eye. When the issue is resolved, ask the customer to leave a new review.
4. Work with a Reputation Professional
You can step up awareness of your company’s online reputation, from the products it sells to how effectively its management team runs different sectors of your business, by investing in reputation monitoring. A company such as Reputation Defender, which specializes in improving online branding, offers privacy solutions, and dealing with negative online reviews, might be a viable solution if you feel you do not have time to monitor the web yourself.
Working with this type of company can offer you several advantages. For example, those that offer more than one service can allow you to bundle the services you need, which may help you save money. Choosing a company that works to protect your business’ privacy as well as manage its online reputation can give you peace of mind, especially when you little or no time to deal with these matters on your own.
5. Ask Former Employees for Reviews
Your business’ online reputation can affect more than your sales. Potential employees may access company reviews before deciding whether to apply, and when they encounter negative or scant reviews, they may decide to pass. This can result in your company losing talented individuals that would be an asset to your bottom line.
To attract quality talent, ask your former employees to leave a positive review on employment sites or on social media. Encourage them to give a few highlights of their employment experience, which might urge potential hires to apply more regularly.
Protecting the reputation of your online business on a consistent basis can be vital to its long-term success. While this process can be challenging, using a variety of strategies to manage reviews, protect your privacy and attract new and varied talent can all give your business the edge it needs to thrive.