When it comes to consumer decisions online, credibility is everything. Multiple surveys show that most people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
With social media and online review sites, it’s easy for consumers to post comments whether they are positive or negative. Learn how to embrace and even leverage reviews on Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp and My PADI Club to grow your business.
Here are five tips to guide you in managing your business’s reputation online.
1. Create your own positive presence. Customers are going to look you up online, so make sure they find what you want them to know.
- Promote your business via your website, blog and social media sites, and put effort into creating relevant and informational content about what you offer.
- Write short bios about yourself, your company story, what your business does, and include great photos or video.
- Claim free business listings on appropriate online directories and social media networks. There is no cost and you control the company description and general information to present your business in the best light.
- Pro-actively ask customers for positive reviews. This is an essential part of any online reputation management strategy. Often, people won’t think to post a review, but will be more than happy to when asked. Having positive reviews on your website is a great way to generate quality content.
- Positive and optimized content can show up higher than the negative comments on search engine results pages. If you have a dominant number of positive reviews, your chances of losing a potential customer from the few critical comments is much less.
2. Be active on social media. If you have social media profiles, you need to update content regularly.
- Because your profiles are a reflection of your business, you want to ensure they are current and energized.
- Always remember that social media is a public forum. Never post images or comments you don’t want the whole world to see.
3. Listen to what others are saying. People are going to talk, so you need to stay on top of what is being said about your business.
- Reviews or comments don’t go away. You need to take control of what is being said, whether it’s good or bad.
- View your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages and accounts “as public” or “as Page Visitor” so you can see what they look like when someone stumbles upon them
- Set up a Google Alert on your business name, or use another online reputation management tool. This allows you to track any mention of your business and see overall reactions to your brand online.
- Add a feedback form to your website or send customer satisfaction surveys to your customers to hear their thoughts and sentiments directly.
4. Be proactive, not reactive. Negative comments can be addressed in a way that shows potential customers that you care about your consumers.
- Some public relations professionals advise not to respond publicly in some cases, because your response has the risk of fueling more negative comments. On the flip-side, there are also strong advocates of replying and using the situation to create a positive outcome. Carefully consider the potential upsides and downsides of responding to a negative post before deciding.
- Definitely don’t respond if you’re going to be aggressive, and never accuse a reviewer of being fake. Take time to calm down before responding.
- A good guide is to address concerns in a timely manner and actively try to remedy the situation.
5. Respond professionally. Responding to negative comments in a professional and positive manner can actually result in an overall positive experience and outcome.
- Even if you don’t change the negative reviewer’s perspective, a well-crafted response shows others that you care and you want to create positive experiences.
- If you do choose to respond to negative or critical comments, follow these guidelines:
- Acknowledge the issue or complaint by thanking the person for sharing the concern.
- Empathize with the person and explain that you understand the concern.
- Ask what you can do to fix the problem.
- Explain the steps that your business takes to provide the best customer experience possible.
- Share the steps you are going to take to follow up or look into the matter.
- Offer some incentive for giving your business a second chance.
Businesses are more vulnerable to online attacks on their reputation than ever before. Taking proactive actions to optimise positive reviews and manage negative ones will help you minimise this vulnerability.
For more information about best business practices, marketing and customer service, plan to attend a 2018 PADI Business Academy in your area.