If you’re currently a business person, then you know that we are in the midst of the digital age. Everything is online right now, from the yellow pages to marketing to how people stay in contact. This conversion to digital also includes word of mouth, which is commonly seen as the best way to bring new customers into your business. The newly-developed online presence so many companies are finding themselves with is known as your online reputation. The act of tracking that reputation is called online reputation management.
Curious to see where your business stands right now? Click below for a free scan!
Put very simply, your company’s online reputation is what is said about you online. It can also be viewed as your overall image online. This can include things like your company’s social media activity, what reviews are being left on sites like Yelp, and what your website looks like. According to a study from business2community.com, a whopping 46% of customers say that a website’s design is their main criterion for determining credibility.
Another way to look at Online Reputation is that it’s what comes up when people google your business’s name. Do you like what shows up when you plug in your company name? Or are the results filled with bad reviews, links on shady sites, and social media photos from employees that don’t necessarily shed a good light on your business? If you don’t like what you’re seeing, then you need to invest more in Online Reputation Management.
Online Reputation Management is exactly what it sounds like. It’s monitoring and managing what’s being said about your company and what is linking back to your company. If someone says something false or even true but no longer relevant about your company online, it could greatly damage your image and your business. If every Yelp review about you says that your customer service is terrible or that your food was awful, customers aren’t going to be motivated to come and try out your business
This can have a greater impact than you may realize – according to helpscout.net, in 2010 58% of Americans did online research about products or companies they were interested in before engaging with them. As digital engagement has increased, that number has only gone up. If someone does research your company beforehand and finds a significant amount of bad press, or a terrible website, or awful reviews online, they’re going to be scared away from you and head straight to your competitor. This is why you have to monitor what is said about you online – if you don’t, you’re losing customers to your competitor.
As I said above, everything is digital now. This includes word of mouth. Online reviews are the new word of mouth, and they’re more important than ever. News of bad service reaches twice as many people as news of good service does. Yelp, the most popular review site currently in existence, has 145 million unique visitors every month. There are 26,380 reviews posted each minute. Whether you acknowledge it or not, your company has an online presence and an online reputation.
That reputation is reaching more people, too. What used to only be shared with a few close friends and family members can now feasibly reach anyone with a computer or smartphone. If the reviews being left are good ones, this can be a really good thing! It can bring in droves of customers who otherwise would never have heard of you. It can raise awareness for your unique services and products, promote you to other websites who can in turn promote you even more, and overall it can do wonders for your business.
If your reputation is bad, though, your online reputation can do enough damage to put you out of business. If the first thing people see when they search for your company is a list of lawsuits against you, it won’t matter to them that every single one is from ten or more years ago and all were resolved in your favor. All they’ll see is a list of red flags warning them that you aren’t a company they want to deal with.
Obviously, ethical business practices mean that you can’t go onto sites like Yelp and make them hide or delete bad reviews about your business. That wouldn’t do anything to improve your reputation. It would just add to your reputation that you’re dishonest. No matter what you do, your business will be outed as either good or bad. It’s unavoidable. People talk to other people, and you can’t control what is said. So, what can you do to rebuild and protect your reputation, and to make sure it’s good?
First and foremost, the best defense is a good offense. What I mean by that old cliche is that your best chance at avoiding bad reviews is not giving customers a reason to leave them. Provide good customer service, hold your employees accountable to company expectations, and maintain a good image. If there are problems, deal with them effectively and in a way that satisfies the customer and the company. If there’s nothing to leave bad reviews about, there won’t be valid bad reviews. Obviously, there are always bad eggs. There will always be someone upset that you didn’t bow to their whims. People aren’t stupid – they can tell when a reviewer is just angry that they didn’t get their way. Don’t worry about those reviewers. They’ll always be there, screaming angrily into space and being ignored by everyone else.
If your online reputation is already being damaged by bad reviews online, don’t worry! You can redeem yourself with those customers and improve your image. It all depends on one thing – how you respond to the review. The solution is not to ignore it and hope it goes away. Instead, you can reply to their review and request a second chance. Actually address the complaint, give a better experience, and you’ll earn a better review in return. When potential customers see a second review above the bad one detailing a better experience, they’ll want to try you out to! If you prove that you do, in fact, care about your customers and want them to have good experiences, they’ll reward you by sharing your name with other potential customers!
Your online presence and reputation can be a very good tool. It can help you reach people you’d otherwise never have a hope of reaching. It can earn you good standing with your local community, meaning they’ll support you even when other places open up. But it can be a very damaging thing as well. If you care about your business, you have to monitor your online reputation regularly to ensure that honest complaints are being answered and things that can be fixed are. You also have to be sure that the things being said about you are honest, current, and relevant. Make sure your loyal customers aren’t inadvertently bringing attention to a bad piece of press by commenting all over it. Instead, encourage them to ignore it and let it fade into oblivion.
The important factor of online reputation is control. When you’re in control, nothing that’s said can really hurt your business. That’s why with DoBizLo, you’re empowered to control your reputation. The contracts often include reputation management. This means your account manager will be notified when someone leaves a review about you somewhere like yelp. They’ll share that information with you, allowing you to manage your reputation and respond in a fair, helpful way that can improve your image.
The bottom line is this. With DoBizLo, you’re in full control of your online reputation. It’s monitored by professionals, who’ll make sure your customers keep leaving happy reviews and driving other people towards you.
Would you like a free demo of what DoBizLo can do for your online reputation? Click below to contact one of our consultants!