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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:

  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more.
  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  • Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses.
  • 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.

  • A) Register on the sites. Each of these sites allows you to register or claim your business. This offers some benefit to you in that you will be able to control the information about your business and respond to reviews.
  • B) Fill out the profiles completely. There is room to fill out information about the history of your business, relevant links, pictures, videos, hours of operation, your chosen call to action and more.
    Once you’re set up and ready to go, you should take time to answer your most recent reviews.
  • C) You should answer ALL your reviews both positive and negative and you should answer them publicly. Consumers are looking to see how business owners respond to what is being said about them. It’s important to keep in mind that your review responses are often less for the original consumer and more for every other consumer that will see it.
  • 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.