Importance of Reputation Management for Your Business
At Week 2 of our Digital Marketing Essentials workshop, we covered the topic of Reputation Management for small businesses. Maybe the most misunderstood of all the topics we covered during the four week course, reputation management presents both a challenge and an opportunity to business owners. One thing is absolutely for sure, though, it does not need to be feared. Let’s recap what was discussed.
To kick things off, let’s discuss why online reviews are important. Every consumer has a voice through online reviews and they love the opportunity to use it and share their opinions about all of their experiences. They also really trust what other consumers have to say in their reviews. Here are three key stats from Bright Local to drive home the point:
These stats and their implications for your business are hard to ignore. Looking at them, we can draw the conclusion that positive reviews are important, all reviews will leave an impact (whether positive, negative, or neutral), and responding to reviews is almost mandatory.
Where do you find these reviews?
While any place online is subject to reviews, there are some sites that are dedicated to gathering them for consumers. Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook are potentially the largest sites for this kind of activity. Yelp is solely a review site while Google My Business and Facebook have other activities on them. But they are all important in differing ways. Perhaps one of the main reasons they are important is that your business’s aggregate rating will show up in search results which may affect your business. You may even want to look into a reputation management software, like RepMan or Hootsuite.
In order to get started with reputation management, you need to take the following steps.
Once you’re set up and ready to go, you should take time to answer your most recent reviews.
Getting a very negative review can be an overwhelming experience. As small business owners, we feel each one acutely and worry that serious damage is being done to our business. These feelings are understandable, but they shouldn’t overwhelm you. Follow these steps when responding to negative reviews.
Remember it’s not personal
Take a huge breath. Calm yourself. Do not answer immediately if you are still feeling defensive.
If after some time, you are still feeling too upset, ask someone you trust to read the review and draft a response for you.
When responding, listen carefully to what the customer is saying
Make sure you understand what is at the heart of their dissatisfaction.
Make sure your apology is sincere
Everyone wants to be heard and a sincere apology with attention to detail demonstrates to your customer that you care.
Address their concerns. If they complain about a messy bathroom, poor service or unclear directions or messages, let them know how you are working to improve your processes so that it doesn’t happen again.
If they’ve had a really negative experience, assure them that is not normal for your business and that you value great customer service, clear communication or whatever else they might have had a problem with.
Invite them to take the discussion offline
This is an important step. You want to make the conversation private as quickly as you can. This gives you a chance to diffuse the situation.
A common problem for many businesses
A common problem many businesses run into is that once a negative review is left, it has a big impact on your overall star rating and can sometimes be the first review customers see! You may wish to try to generate more reviews for your business as a result. While asking for reviews outright is generally frowned upon, you can hang up signs from Yelp and Google My Business that let others know your business is present on those sites and customers should check you out.
Online reputation is more than just reviews. It’s also having a great website, accurate business listings, paying attention to what is being said about you on social media and responding when people talk to you directly on social media. Reviews are a key part but working on all of these these areas together will give you the best chance of success.