- Create a Google Alert for your business, and yourself if you’re a professional. It’s free. It takes just a few minutes. It will help you learn about what others are saying about you, and it’s free.
- Be honest. It may be difficult sometimes when things go wrong. It’s better than getting caught covering something, up or lying; which can both do serious damage to your business.
- Don’t ignore what people are saying about you. You may decide not to respond to negative information, or to address a negative review by demonstrating your concern, care, and quality. Just don’t pretend that nothing is being said about your business.
- Encourage your happy customers to post reviews online.
- Don’t argue online.
Why Care About Your Reputation?
Very little today is invisible. My business partner at URWA Consulting in Denver says that “you have to think about every action that you take as if you were performing the half-time show at the Super Bowl. People are always watching, talking, and sharing information about you and your business.
Opinion Research Corp. (June 2008) reports that 83% of consumers say that online customer reviews influence their purchase decisions.
According to Harvard University research, a 1-star difference in reviews on Yelp may result in a 5% to 9% gain or loss in business (2011).
Your prospects are looking for information about you online. If you are not aware of what’s being said you can’t minimize public concerns about your business, or optimize all of the good things that are said and shared about you. If you choose to ignore what other people post about your business online, at least consider that if it’s negative it may be found when people are searching for your business by your name.
Monitoring Your Online Reputation is not Enough
Just monitoring top review websites like Yelp, Google+, and CitySearch is not enough. When you successful generate positive reviews online, and address negative concerns internally you will increase your online reputation, and provide high quality customer service. This is one reason why virtually every reputation management article recommends that the first rule for managing your reputation is to be transparent. If you’re not, people are likely to find out that you are not honest, and let others know. Yes. There is risk in being transparent. The risk is far higher in not being transparent though. Are you prepared for the consequences of not caring?
Negative Online Reviews
Yes. You can often get rid of them if the poster has violated the terms of using the website that they have posted on. However, it’s often not that easy. It’s a much better practice to build your reputation by generating positive reviews, and encouraging customers to provide you feedback directly. Sometimes, despite your best efforts people will post negative reviews, information, photos, videos, and even websites about you. Beware of scams and companies offering to remove negative reviews and information. They may have even posted the negative information themselves. Businesses are even creating websites to post negative information and reviews, and then sending emails offering to remove the information for a fee.
There is much content about responding to negative information and reviews. The argument for not responding is that you can extend the rankings with new entries, and drive the results higher in the search engine results. On the other hand, the increase in rankings might not be so bad if your response helps prospects see that you care about your current customers, and you stand behind your product or service.
Bad stuff happens to every business now and again. You choose what to do about it. Proactive reputation management will cost far less than repairing a damaged reputation. Your business will be stronger when you implement a reputation management program. Call URWA Consulting if you would like to see how reputation management can help your business thrive.