No matter the size of your business, online reputation management is an important piece of your business’s health. People often rely on online reviews before making a decision about what businesses to support. When and how you publicly address customers’ comments about yours can make or break it.
To see what people are saying about your business, you’ll need to do some digging beyond reviews on your website. Google your business to see what bloggers and news outlets are commenting, search for your business’s name and handle on social media platforms, and check review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. Also, check the notifications on your social media accounts to know when people tag your business — and actually look at those mentions.
Platforms such as Google and Facebook want to see you engaging with customers. It might even give you a boost with search engine optimization (SEO), improving the chances that someone will discover your business when doing a search online.
Managing your brand’s online reputation also keeps you better informed and able to see things from a customer’s perspective. For example, if a certain product keeps getting a negative review — which can ultimately damage your brand’s reputation — you should see what you can do to fix it or maybe even remove it from your catalog.
On the flip side, online reputation management also helps to know what people love about your brand. Do customers thank you for the water bowl you leave outside your storefront for dogs? Fantastic — now you know it’s something you should continue to do (and that a lot of dog lovers may be frequenting your shop).
Whether you’re responding to a raving review about your attentiveness to their feline friends or negative feedback about customer support, it’s important to establish guidelines for your company’s online reputation management. Consider the following:
- Do you have a dedicated person doing this?
- What is your brand’s tone, and how does it influence the language you use?
- Are you thanking customers for their feedback, both positive and negative?
- How will you address any negative reactions? For example, will you offer a coupon code or free returns?
- What is the timeframe in which you’re responding?
It’s best to respond quickly, ideally within 24 to 48 hours, especially to critiques. According to Yelp, “Users are 33 percent more likely to upgrade their review if you respond with a personalized message within a day.” Make sure your response is public so that potential customers can see it. You can always follow up with a private response later, such as a more personalized email.
When you give a swift and thoughtful response, it shows that you care about your customers. You might be inclined to lash out, but save the venting for a night out with your friends. Even if you don’t agree with what someone said, don’t take it personally — at least not publicly. Respond in a calm, understanding manner, and do what you can to right any perceived wrong. An apology can go a long way.
Managing your brand’s online reputation allows you to get a better sense of what your customers want. You’ll be more in tune with what people like and don’t like about your business so you know what you’re doing well and where you can improve. You’ll also build trust because customers see that you’re paying attention and hearing them — and in the end, that’s all people really want.