In our digital era, what people are saying about us is more important than ever. There are thousands of sites where people can talk about us online – and once something is recorded online, it never goes away. If it’s especially egregious you may get it hidden, but that can take a lot of time on your part and most of the time there is simply no way to hide the unpleasant reviews.
“Approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, while 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.” ~ Local Consumer Review Survey 2012
There is of course plenty you can do to protect your online reputation. First and foremost it goes without saying that you need to take care of your customers. However, as every business owner knows you’re not going to make everyone happy all of the time. Unfortunately, angry irrational people like to get online and rant about the “injustices” done to them. Fortunately, most people can recognize a review that is written by an angry irrational person.
But that still leaves us with the question: what do we do to protect our reputation outside of excellent customer service?
First we have to know what is being said about our company. You can’t do anything about a bad review if you don’t know it exists. Many sites allow business owners to respond to reviews, which shows other readers the integrity that you have. If you can leave a response, you should do so. What you don’t want to do is make excuses or proclaim the person is insane. Keep in mind that your reply is often more for the people reading the review instead of the reviewer himself.
If it’s a legitimate complaint then you’ll want to make it right and often the reviewer will recant their negative comments once you repair the transgression.
Surely you have many happy customers – that’s how you’re in business. Plenty of these happy customers are willing to tell others about the good products/services they receive from you. When you come across these customers ask them if they wouldn’t mind telling others on your Google Places page or Yelp. One or two bad reviews do not hold much weight when there are plenty of good reviews to drown them out.
Breaking it down:
1. Know what is being said about you and your company
2. Reply and make right (if possible) any negative reviews
3. Encourage your happy customers to share their experience on your social media sites and your online yellow page listings.
Internet Yellow Pages (IYP’s)
Of course, this isn’t all there is to do online, those online yellow page listings (IYP’s) we mentioned in #3 – well those need your attention. There are many, many sites online that have placed your information on their websites – just like the old print yellow pages. Remember when you hated that there were two or three phone books? Well, now there are hundreds of online yellow pages and almost all of them have a free option. This actually isn’t a bad thing; it can help quite a bit with your local search engine optimization. But in order for it to help you need to claim and optimize them.
This task isn’t difficult, but it is time-consuming and tedious. And, when you do come across a negative review on one of the sites, it makes responding much easier; listings must be claimed and ownership verified before owner replies can be posted.