Managing Your Online Reputation

Why you should pay more attention to what customers are saying about you
Stephen Heitz, Chief Innovation Officer | Tim Trull, Managing Director, Strategy

If you don’t believe your company’s digital footprint is important, then consider these three eye-opening stats: 

  • 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.
  • 90% of your customers are influenced by online reviews.*
  • 45% of people say they have found something online that convinced them to not patronize a business.

Unless you’ve been hiding out on the remote island of Tristan de Cunha, you know that a company’s online reputation is crucial to attracting new customers and keeping existing ones. This is especially true for businesses such as fitness clubs, spas and salons. The inherent personal nature of these businesses means they are constantly being judged by their customers. One slip-up can send a consumer running to type out a snarky Tweet or post a negative review on Yelp.

That’s why watching your online reputation is no longer optional. You must take steps to monitor, manage and address what’s being said about you online. Here’s where to start.

Do this first

The most important thing you can do to manage your online reputation is to be excellent. If your fitness club is dirty, your members will post the evidence on Facebook. If a customer gets a subpar massage at your spa, they’ll give you a terrible one-star review. If someone isn’t happy with their new hair style, they’ll tell all their Twitter friends.

While there are some malicious individuals among us, most people are fair. That means you can control what they say by being totally buttoned up. Provide excellent customer service. Offer outstanding products. Ensure your staff are well trained. Present a welcoming and spotless facility.

Look in the mirror

The next step is to pretend you’re a potential customer. Go online and search for your business by name. Do you find anything negative on the first page of search results? Then search for your business by category, and in a way that potential customers might look for your services. If you’re a hair stylist, type in “Phoenix hair stylist” or “local hair salon” or “best hair salons in town.”

These searches will help you discover two things. First, you are likely to find some negative reviews that require your attention. And second, your investigation might reveal that you’re not showing up at all. If you can’t be found online, you don’t exist.

By the way, you can pretty much ignore anything that’s not on the first page of a Google or Bing search. More than 90% of us never go to page two.

Deal with poor reviews

Whether we like it or not, online reviews are persuasive. Strangely, consumers trust reviews even though they don’t know the people who wrote them. Here’s the kicker: 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.°

It doesn’t take a poor review to affect your business—22% of us won’t buy a product or service from a company on the basis of just one poor review. Another 22% will seek an alternative company after seeing two negative comments.

Sooner or later, you’re bound to have a dissatisfied customer, and they might leave you a poor review. If that happens, you should reply as soon as possible, and do so in a positive way that 1) thanks the consumer for their honesty and helpfulness; 2) explains what action you’re taking right now to fix the problem; and 3) invites the customer to give your business a second chance.

If you leave poor reviews unaddressed, potential consumers may rightly assume that you don’t care and, worse, that the review is an accurate reflection of the problem. But when you publicly address a negative review, you can change perceptions. Many people will revisit the reviews they wrote, thanking the company and rewriting/correcting the review, even increasing their original star ranking.

Get great reviews

The secret to obtaining excellent reviews is to actually ask for them. It’s as simple as that. The odds of getting positive reviews multiply exponentially when you request them on a consistent basis and make it easy for customers to review your product or service.

There are many online tools that help automate this process. A service such as Grade.us will send satisfaction surveys to your customers and encourage them to provide feedback in a review. You’ll also be alerted to poor reviews and be able to quickly respond.

Get listed

Did you find any unpleasant surprises when you conducted an online search for your company? If so, you can take steps to push them to page two of Google or Bing results, which means they’ll likely never be seen again.

This can be accomplished by making sure that negative elements rank lower than positive ones—such as great reviews, directory listings, and your own social media. Tools such as Yext.com can help ensure your various listings and address information are optimized and available online, and it can facilitate reviews, as well. It’s also a good idea that your business takes advantage of the myriad free platforms that can promote your company, such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and more.

Final thoughts

Reputation management isn’t a one-time effort. All it takes is one bad review for you to lose business. Stay vigilant. Check your reviews every day. And look for your own business frequently so you can discover what your customers are seeing.

How important are online reviews? 

Here’s some compelling evidence that underscores the importance of managing your company’s online reviews.

  1. 54.7% of consumers believe that online reviews are fairly, very or absolutely an important part of their decision-making process.

  2. Businesses risk losing as many as 22% of customers when just one negative article is found by users considering buying their product.

  3. If you have four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results, you’ll likely lose 70% of potential customers.

  4. Here’s where people go to learn about a company before buying products or services from them:

    • 20% Google Reviews

    • 10.9% Amazon

    • 5.2% Wikipedia

    • 4.2% Yelp

    • 3.2% Trip Advisor

    • 64.2% None of the above

       (Source: Moz.com)

 

Dimensional Research
° Search Engine Land

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