Gone are the days of simple advertising and word-of-mouth recommendations driving a company’s business. In today’s digital world, online credibility is everything. And if a business isn’t proactive about cultivating and repairing its online presence, it can quickly spiral out of control. First and foremost, no stellar online reputation process can fix a less-than-stellar product. Delivering a substandard product or service will be reflected online. If you are receiving negative reviews or feedback or are experiencing a loss of revenue, be honest with yourself about the accuracy of this feedback, and ask yourself if you need to change something. If you’ve got a great product or service, there are still several things that can make or break your company’s online credibility:
1. A fast, safe and secure, well-designed, and mobile-friendly website
An outdated or insecure site will certainly drive people away.
2. A well-equipped staff answering phones
These people are the last step of your sales team and will either book (win) or not book (lose) customers. Prepare staff with a script to answer people’s questions, and train them to set realistic expectations for customers about service and experiences. For example, the person answering the phones for a service industry needs to set realistic expectations regarding arrival time.
3. Always responding to negative reviews
People leave reviews because they want to be heard – hear them! Contact them offline (via phone or private email), and listen to them. Try your hardest to resolve their problems. If you can resolve their problems, ask them to take their negative reviews down. If they refuse, then politely respond to their reviews online, but don’t incite them to continue to criticize your company. Here’s a great resource for responding to negative reviews!
Provide current and potential customers with useful information, but don’t forget to be interesting! Interacting with your visitors is also a plus.
5. Reviews in the right places
The most trustworthy review site in the eyes of many customers is Google Plus local, followed by Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing local, etc. You should be working to cultivate your reputation on several review sites.
1. Not encouraging good reviews
Though you can’t legally incentivize good reviews, you can certainly ask happy customers to review your company through email marketing, handouts, and more, especially if those customers reach out to you to express their satisfaction. Encourage those who are unhappy to contact the company directly instead of leaving a negative review online, ensuring that you will help to resolve their issue.
2. Not responding to positive reviews
Thank every person who favorably reviews your company to show them your appreciation and further engage them in your company. Others browsing reviews will see that you’re engaged and concerned about how your customers feel.
3. A poorly designed website
With the ever-changing landscape of technology and the Internet, websites quickly become outdated. A website that was innovative five years ago is likely looking pretty dated today. What’s most important on a company’s website is easy navigation, a clean design, clear calls-to-action, avenues through which to contact the company, and fast site speed. Absence of these characteristics increases your bounce rate (the number of people who click on your website and leave without engaging or looking around). Avoid building a website that doesn’t load well or fit nicely on a mobile device. Many people surf the Internet on their smartphones or tablets, and websites should be optimized to function cleanly on all devices. It is important to stay on top of your company’s online presence. If you don’t have the time or the know-how, a part-time marketing professional can help you. Underestimating the power of a few bad reviews is certain to make an impact on your business; conversely, good reviews can do a lot to boost your reputation!