Reputation management is not always the first thing people think of when they hear the word “marketing.” However, what your company does after the sales process is over is just as important as what they do leading up to the sale. We know that consumers perform tons of research before they even make the first connection with your company, so having a strong online reputation is essential for any business today.
We’ve discussed how to gauge your customer’s opinion of your business through using a NPS survey. The next thing to consider is the information that is already present online about your company on social and peer networking sites.
How to Manage Online Reviews
When consumers are performing research about your company before making a purchase, they will take into consideration the experience other shoppers have had when interacting with your business. Often times, customers who have had either a great experience or a negative experience will share about their encounter with your company.
It is important to monitor what is said online about your company, whether it be good or bad, and respond to it in an appropriate manner since 65% of new business comes from referrals. We’ve included some dos and don’ts for responding to online reviews that discuss your company and your client’s experience.
DO: Monitor areas where you have identified that your target audience “hangs out” online for mentions of your company
As we’ve mentioned before, buyer personas are essential to your Inbound Marketing strategy. After you have figured out your target audience, you should be able to perform some research to determine where these people “hang out” online and where they receive and discuss business information.
Once you have done that, you can then monitor these areas for mentions of your company and business. By being aware of your online reputation, you will run a much lower risk of being caught off-guard by an online review.
DON’T: Try to brush negative reviews under the rug or make them disappear
One of the worst looks for a company is when they try to remove negative reviews or brush them under the rug. This makes it look like the company has something to hide and it comes across as inauthentic.
It also doesn’t give you the opportunity to make a situation right if you just try to avoid the negative review. Although negative circumstances are never ideal, how you react to them is what truly shows customers what kind of company you are. If you hide from these reviews, you will never get the chance to make things right.
DO: Reach out to customers with negative reviews with contact information to try to remedy their situation
Building off of the last point, negative reviews are something that should be dealt with. Unlike the NPS survey responses, these reviews are out on the Internet for the public to see. The best response to that is one that answers the review publicly as well.
By reaching out to your customer through a public forum with an apology and an offer to make the situation right, you come across as a professional who takes responsibility for their company. Others will see that and respect your business for your awareness and willingness to go above and beyond to fix a negative situation.
DON’T: Argue with negative reviews in a public forum
The old adage of the customer is always right applies to you when you’re dealing with online negative reviews, no matter how frustrating that may be. Best practices dictate that you apologize and reach out with information on how to contact you to fix the problem. Arguing with them that the situation did not happen or that you are in the right is not what you want to be doing online.
If you truly feel like you are in the right or you are being trolled, you can still respond. When dealing with a situation where you feel as if you are in the right even when there is a negative review, we recommend something along the lines of the comment below:
“(NAME), we appreciate you taking the time to provide your feedback on your experience with us. Both our office staff and our management team are normally known for our exceptional customer service and we regret that we missed the mark during your experience with us. If you wouldn’t mind giving us a call at (phone number), we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further. We look forward to speaking with you!”
In this scenario, you acknowledged the reviewer’s feelings without necessarily acknowledging what they said happened. You reinforced that this situation is out of the norm for your company and offered to discuss the situation further. You provided contact information and just left it at that. No arguing, no defending yourself, just a response to acknowledge the situation.
DO: Create a positive online space for your company
Having the opportunity for guests to review your business directly on your site or product page is so important to managing your online reputation. As we mentioned, people perform tons of research before making the decision to purchase. One of the first places they will look is your website. By having the reviews from peers directly on the site, you create an authentic and positive space that encourages people to purchase.
Another way to achieve this is by blogging or posting about your company. You are a reviewer for your own brand just like everyone else and you are the best source of information, so make sure you are putting positive information out there for others to see.
DON’T: Ignore positive reviewers - they are your advocates online
Often times, you will see companies responding to negative reviews and not the positive ones. However, the positive reviewers are your online advocates and should not be ignored! Be sure to acknowledge them, thank them, and encourage them to share their opinion all across the board.
Communicate with these people and engage with them, whether it be on social media or by featuring their review on your website. By appreciating your advocates and making them feel like they are part of your community, you build not only brand loyalty, but an army of customers who will fight for you online.
You can’t hide from online reviews. While most people understand that people usually won’t take the time to leave a review unless they are very upset or very happy, they are still something that needs to be monitored and managed.
By having a plan in place to manage these online reviews, you will be able to deal with them professionally regardless of the content. Reputation management does not mean you only have positive things said about your business online; it means that your reaction to whatever is said about you online is professional and serves to boost your online reputation.
Want to learn more about using Reputation Management as a part of an Inbound Marketing strategy? We'd love to chat! Get in touch with us to get started.