Whether you like it or not, your customers may be talking about you in unflattering ways. Remember the old adage: a happy customer tells one person; an angry customer tells ten. In today’s fast paced online world, this unhappy person can tell hundreds, if not thousands of people in one well-placed rant.
If your business isn’t engaged with these unhappy customers or you are turning a blind eye to these reviews, your business will eventually feel the wrath of this relatively new phenomenon. The internet is used for all phases of the buying cycle, so if a potential customer sees poor reviews, you lose!
How can small businesses protect themselves? Get educated on the basics of Online Reputation Management (ORM). This means engaging your customers online, monitoring your reviews, and creating positive online content.
ORM consists of these basic components:
I. Customer Engagement
- Get involved with social media. Utilize Facebook, by creating a business page and adding the link to your website. Respond to unfavorable reviews by addressing good and bad reviews. You may not be able to remove or restore the unfavorable reviews, but you can let others know that you are engaged and listening to their concerns by commenting below each review.
- Create an atmosphere of caring and understanding of customer complaints. Investigate complaints and address them before the reviewer has an opportunity to leave a poor review. Use surveys or follow-up phone calls to uncover dissatisfied customers.
- Encourage your satisfied customers to leave a positive review on your business. You may have to persuade them to take the time, but certainly worth the effort.
II. Monitor Reviews
- Create business accounts for all the big review sites, like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and others locally. This will allow you to comment on good and bad reviews. Set up a Google Alert to alert you when your business is mentioned on the internet and react quickly when you see a poor review.
III. Create Positive Content
- Create a blog or YouTube channel that delivers positive content about your business and the service(s) you offer. This online content needs to be regularly updated to push the negative reviews down the organic search results page.
Like most business strategies, Online Reputation Management is a task that requires work. The tradeoff for this work is potentially increased sales, but most importantly, not losing potential customers to your competition due to a poor online reputation.