It can take years to build up a solid reputation. Unfortunately, it can take just a few moments to bring it all crashing down around you. Every business needs to be focused on their online reputation.
Managing this key area, however, is not as easy as many think.
How many places do customers review or comment on your products or services? There are plenty of review sites nowadays including Google and TrustPilot. There’s also social media which is increasingly used to pass comment on businesses from large corporations to small startups. Then there are personal websites and blogs.
The truth is that many potential new customers will use these review sites and other online locations to find out more about your company and decide if they’ll do business for you.
You may have hundreds of good, five star reviews, but if someone leaves a bad one, it can seriously impact on your business. And that’s doesn’t just mean your marketing and sales – it can have an affect on your ability to recruit for important jobs that help grow your business.
Reputation isn’t just about reviews any more either. Customer service is often carried out online, in full view of the general public, especially with social media. Failing to answer a customer’s query on a site like Facebook can be a red flag to those who are thinking of hiring your service or buying your product.
You may even have to contend with ‘fake news’ put on review sites by your competitors and designed to damage your reputation, especially when you become more successful.
Keeping An Eye On Your Online Reputation
Even for small businesses, managing online reputations can be a complex and time consuming task. For large corporations there are huge departments devoted entirely to this kind of management. There are also third party companies who specialise in doing it for you. The truth is that most small to medium size businesses don’t have the time or resources to engage in 24/7 reputation management and going to a third party is often the best option.
Google Your Business
The first place to start when checking online reputation is simply to Google yourself. This should give you a good idea whether there is any negative content out there about you. If something bad appears on the first couple of pages, you may have some work to do.
Have an Online Reputation Policy in Place
Most businesses tend to have a reactive approach when it comes to online reputation. Being more proactive and having a robust policy for dealing with any negative reaction to your brand can put you ahead of the game or at least prepare you for that inevitability. That might be include how you handle social media, monitor and assess the latest comments and, more importantly, how you interact with someone who has left a negative review.
Don’t Respond in the Heat of the Moment
While negative reviews can be damaging to your business, how you reply is equally important. That’s why you need to do it with a calm and focused mind and not go off into an angry rage because you don’t agree with the comment. Reviewers will take a look at how you reply and that will have a significant impact on your reputation. Getting angry can often end in an online slanging match that can quickly get out of hand. You have to temper that, of course, with replying in a timely manner. That’s why having a process in place is so important.
There are a variety of tools you can use to track when your brand is mentioned online and these should ensure that you stay on top of any potential reputational issues. What you need to prioritise, however, is that this is taken very seriously across all aspects of your business and that you have the processes and procedures in place to ensure you stay on top of everything.