When was the last time you checked your business on Google? If you haven’t done so in a while, you may be in for a surprise.
If you haven’t invested in building an online reputation for your business, you wouldn’t probably see anything about your business (maybe a Facebook page if you have one). In the worst-case scenario, you would get a shock to see the harmful content severely damaging your online reputation. Online reputation management is an essential aspect for businesses to maintain a positive vibe online. The process of online reputation management is quite similar to the search engine optimization (SEO) process. It aims to populate the online space with positive content about your business to suppress any harmful content and build a positive reputation for your business.
Online reputation management is also essential because most of the time, it is impossible to remove the harmful content (user-generated reviews or malicious attempts by competitors) from the web, and the only way left to maintain the reputation is to suppress or wash out the harmful content with positive content.
Why is online reputation management important for your business?
Negative publicity is a slow death for your business. With the increasing number of review sites like Yelp.com, it has become essential for companies to monitor the content generated under their name continuously and take measures to wash out any negative publicity.
It may sound immoral to wash out user-generated negative reviews; however, this is essential in a broader context. The fierce competition in the online industry has left users spoilt for choices. This means that they are continually looking for ways to claim some freebies by threatening a business’s reputation with a negative online review. Also, various companies deliberately run defaming online campaigns to push competitors out of business. Thus, the business’s sustainability and growth need to invest time and resources in monitoring and managing the online content generated under its name.
Combating Negative Reviews
Combating the negative reviews isn’t the easiest of a feat to achieve for online businesses. In essence, the larger the company, the harder it becomes to monitor and manage the harmful content. This is a multi-faceted effort where you would have to find the harmful content at first, and in the second step, you would either have to remove the content or wash it out with inundating positive content. Since many review sites like Yelp.com or Google make it almost impossible to remove any user-generated content, most of the time, the only option left with businesses is to wash out the content.
In this blog, we have come up with seven effective ways to protect your brand’s online reputation today effectively:
- Offer Superior Services
The first step towards maintaining a positive online reputation is to keep your customers happy. As we discussed above, customers today have become spoilt for choices and are consistently looking for better service standards (which is not always a bad thing).
Thereby, when you are looking to protect your brand’s online reputation today, you would need to start by offering customers superior standard services, which meet and exceeds customers’ expectations.
An important tip here is to ensure you can deliver what you promise and never overcommit with customers. For example, if you are a digital marketing agency, you should walk your customers through the entire path to achieve their desired results. As a digital marketing agency, don’t make fake promises with customers for instant ranking; instead, give them a realistic timeline (even keep a month or two extra cushions).
By going this way, you may lose some business; however, those who get along with you would be happy with your services and give you positive reviews for honesty and transparency. Remember, it’s impossible to keep all customers satisfied. However, you need to give your best to keep as many customers happy as possible. And in the gist of time, if you have unhappy customers, you should always make it to him by offering them free services or refund or any other offer to make up for their frustration.
And lastly, remember that customers are always right (even if that’s not the case literally), and you shouldn’t fight back with customers. Just try to make them happy as much as you can to stop them from creating harmful online content; however, if you fail once in a blue moon, you will still have many positive reviews to overwhelm one or two negative reviews.
- Encourage customers to leave a review.
Unfortunately, certain professions are more prone to get negative reviews than others. For instance, dentistry is one profession that, for some reason, always had a large number of bad reviews.
Now, it may be because people going to dentists are already in pain, and the substantial money they have to put up for the dentists further exacerbates their anger, resulting in negative reviews.
Nonetheless, the issue is that most of the time, satisfied customers (all professions included) tend not to give away any reviews. In contrast, unsatisfied customers are more willing to exhaust their frustration with a negative review.
This brings us to our second point, which is asking for a review.
Honestly, it’s easier said than done, and any wrong approach towards asking for a review may backfire big time, resulting in either a negative review or loss of customers.
Remember, how many times have you seen an online app asking you for a review and rating?
Even some of the biggest apps like WhatsApp ask for reviews or ratings. However, they tend to keep it subtle enough not to frustrate the users.
The key here is to identify the right time and frequency to ask for the reviews. Generally, if you see a customer returning for a second product purchase or willing to upgrade his plan, it shows his satisfaction with the service standards. It represents an ideal time to ask for a review.
Also, don’t push customers to leave a review, or you might get a negative one. Give them choices by asking them politely if they would like to leave an excellent review or rating for the services with the option of “maybe later.” Then after weeks, you may ask them again (remember, the frequency shouldn’t be higher).
This way, you are more likely to receive a positive review of your services and keep customers engaged with your product/services.
- Offer some freebies for Reviews.
Ok, this may be controversial because it goes against Yelp or other review sites; thereby, if you decide to go this way, make sure you only go with it verbally and never in writing. That’s because if you are reported for doing this, you are either going to get a warning or demotion in the ranking.
Nonetheless, you can always ask customers for a positive review against a discount for products or services. And just like we said above, since customers today are increasingly looking for some freebies, most of them (if they aren’t seriously offended by your services) will be happy to leave you positive feedback for some freebie or discount.
- Compensate dissatisfied customers
If your customers are dissatisfied with your services, you shouldn’t stop going to any lengths to fix the issue. However, if your efforts fail, then offer them full or partial refunds or offer them other monetary incentives like promo codes or gift cards as compensation.
Also, package the refund with an apology. Don’t hesitate to accept your mistake and assure them that you will resolve the future issue.
This way, you won’t just help yourself avoid a negative review but also repair your relations with customers and maybe even convert them into loyal customers.
5 Monitor online mentions
As we say, it’s not possible to keep every customer happy, which means no matter how hard you try, there would always be some negative comments.
Thereby, it’s essential to keep track of all online mentions for your brand, including social media pages, blogs, forums, and other places. This will help you to identify any negative comment/review generated online in time and take necessary actions to wash out its adverse implications before it impacts your business.
- Protect the brand’s name on social platforms.
Social media offers the best platforms for businesses to interact and communicate with their clients and keep up with their online reputation management.
While many businesses invest time and resources to manage their presence on Facebook (which is understandable given it is the biggest social media platform), this doesn’t mean they should neglect other platforms altogether.
Thereby, it is crucial to maintain an active presence across all social media platforms and keep strict vigilance for the content generated under the brand name and take necessary actions to wash out or dilute its impacts.
- Build your brand’s Authority Online
Last but not least, you need to establish the brand as an authority in the market. Remember, according to statistics, customers like to buy from businesses that they consider reputed and reliable. And the best way to become trustworthy for customers is to build your brand’s authority. In the online industry, this can be achieved by continually creating high-quality and informative content (blogs, press releases, interviews, Infographics, videos, etc.).
Over to you…
In today’s online industry, it is essential to protect your brand name and reputation online. And when you have to face customers spoilt for choices, your only way out remains to take a proactive approach. Ensure you invest in online reputation management to better control what customers think of you and how they get to read your brand.