How to Improve Your Online Reputation and Boost Your Bottom Line
Every business, no matter the industry, is going to have the occasional unhappy customer, and most customer complaints can be settled quickly and efficiently through a phone call or email. But the situation becomes increasingly complicated if the customer isn’t satisfied with your resolution and they leave negative feedback about your business online.
With one simple click, your reputation could take a huge hit. And your company’s reputation and bottom line go hand-in-hand. Customers have thousands of options when it comes to where they spend their money, and if they read a negative review, it’s easier to click away than it is to give you the benefit of the doubt.
Establishing a reputation management strategy before a problem occurs allows you to effectively respond to complaints without having to worry about how they will impact your bottom line.
Why Managing Your Online Reputation Is So Important
According to a survey by Nielsen, 70% of consumers trust online product reviews and opinion-posts, while only 58% trust statements about a brand found on the brand’s own website.
And when it comes to sales, 41% of brands that experienced an event that damaged their reputation reported a decrease in revenue as a result. On the other hand, 86% of people would pay more for services from a company with higher ratings and reviews.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to find out what’s being said about your business and proactively build a positive reputation that helps to bring in more sales.
Do Your Research
The first step is to find out what people are saying about your brand, what sites they’re saying it on and why they’re negatively reviewing your business. Google your business and set up alerts to monitor changes. If you find a false claim, contact the platform, explain your side of the story and ask to have it removed.
Expand Your Internet Presence
So you have a website, which is great. But where else can people find out about your business?
While Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are often considered the “big three” when it comes to social media platforms, consider expanding your digital footprint to other places that your target customer base frequents.
If your business is in the B2B realm, LinkedIn is a great place to build professional connections. If you’re B2C, consider showcasing your products not only on Instagram but also on Pinterest. If you’re looking to reach a younger demographic, keep your eye on Snapchat and other emerging social platforms.
Not only will you connect with your target audience by expanding your digital footprint, but you’ll also regain control over the top search results associated with your business should a negative review ever arise.
Use Social Media Wisely
Speaking of social media, if you lack the skills needed to conduct yourself properly and professionally online, you’re doing more damage than any customer can do with a negative review.
To effectively manage your online reputation, make sure that your social media accounts are current and regularly maintained to garner an organic following. Instill confidence by filling your pages and feeds with high-quality content that establishes your brand as an authority. If they see you as an expert in your niche, they’re more likely to convert to paying customers.
Ask Customers to Write Positive Reviews
Studies have found that 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. And they waste no time, with 68% forming an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews.
In other words, one of the most effective ways to build up your business’s online reputation is to let your satisfied customers build it for you through online reviews.
While you don’t want to directly ask customers to leave reviews after every order, you should contact them if you know they’ve had a positive experience. The goal is to build up customer confidence in your products, services, and brand so that casual browsers are more likely to convert into paying customers.
Publicly Respond to Negative Reviews
Nobody’s perfect, and you’re bound to get a few negative reviews — and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, a mix of positive and negative reviews will show people your brand is authentic. Customers might get suspicious if every review is positive and may assume that some of the reviews are fake.
But a critical step in online reputation management is how you handle those negative reviews.
First, never engage in online arguments. This comes off as defensive and unprofessional, something that will certainly turn off other prospective customers and damage your reputation. Even when the customer is wrong, you need to refrain from being defensive and instead focus on making them happy.
Transparency is key, so when it comes to negative reviews, be kind, polite, and understanding, but also acknowledge the mistake and what you’re doing to rectify it. Empathize with the customer and try to get more information to help come up with a resolution. Listening to them will go a long way.
A sincere apology followed by unconditional amends can quickly help diffuse a situation and repair a professional relationship — and hopefully help to retain a customer.
The Bottom Line
Maintaining your online reputation requires an investment of time and money, and many eSellers fail to proactively manage their reputation until there’s a problem, which is often too late. It’s important to hope for the best but prepare for the worst, so when those negative online reviews do appear, you have a plan of action.
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