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As Virgin Atlantic CEO Richard Branson said, “Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.” Although word-of-mouth marketing doesn’t look the same as it did 30 years ago, reputation management is just as important now as ever. Technology lets customers share their experiences with vast numbers of people at lightning speed with just a few taps on the keyboard.
Simply getting your brand out there isn’t the only important piece of your marketing puzzle. Maintaining an exceptional reputation among consumers is equally — or more — important to your small business’ marketing efforts. Read on to learn how your small business can win at reputation management and why it matters.
Let’s start with what reputation management is not. Reputation management is not covering up or downplaying mistakes, bad practices, or poor workmanship. The best way to manage your business’ reputation is by providing great service and owning up to mistakes when you make them. Reputation management doesn’t imply perfection. However, the way your business responds when a mistake is made demonstrates your true qualities.
Now that we understand what reputation management is, how do we effectively manage ours in the digital space? The following are some guidelines for what managing your online reputation looks like.
As business owners and marketers, it’s important that we keep a pulse on what is said about us online. The most common channels we should monitor include the following.
These are where most businesses maintain some digital presence. Customers can leave reviews, ratings, complaints, or posts across these channels. Failing to regularly check or respond to what consumers say about your business online is analogous to neglecting your credit history. You want to ensure that your business is properly represented online and that there aren’t any unwarranted “dings” against your reputation. Failing to do so can hurt your bottom line.
In sales and marketing, we like to say: “If someone has a good experience, they might tell one or two people. If they have a bad experience, they will tell everybody.” 9 out of 10 consumers say they’ve avoided a business due to negative reviews. We want to ensure that we respond to whatever our customers are saying — positive or negative. For example, we don’t want to only respond to negative reviews on Google; we also want to thank our customers that leave positive reviews.
Sometimes, we may receive negative reviews or defamatory comments on Google or our social media from people who haven’t done business with us. These reputation-damaging actions can come from competitors, former employees, bad players, or even by mistake. We want to follow the proper steps to mitigate the issue.
When these unique situations arise, here are a few options:
Depending on the platform, businesses may be able to remove a review or comment that improperly represents them. Most social platforms provide this ability. However, other platforms like Google and Better Business Bureau (BBB) don’t allow you to manually remove reviews and instead require a formal dispute process.
In situations where you’re unable to remove a review or comment, you want to respond truthfully and quickly. If you truly made a mistake, respond by apologizing and saying how you’re going to make it right. Get in contact with the customer and give them a resolution to their complaint. In many cases, you can turn a customer’s 1-star review into a 5-star if you address their issue.
If the customer feedback isn’t true, you can respond or seek legal action. It may qualify for defamation of character. Statements that meet the criteria for defamation of character possess the following qualities.
If these criteria are met, businesses can have their attorneys send the individual a cease-and-desist letter to have the review forcefully removed. These situations are usually the last resort, but sometimes this type of action is warranted.
Most of the time, we are reactive about reputation management. However, an important component of reputation management involves proactively encouraging your customers to share their positive experiences online. Thanks to technology, there are many ways to accomplish this goal. Here are a few of them.
The goal is to make leaving a review or comment online as easy as possible for your customers who’ve had positive experiences with your services. Review platforms exist that allow you to send your customers links pointing directly to your business’ review pages. You or your employees may also use printed flyers with QR codes that you can hand out to a customer at the end of a job or project. The old-fashioned way is simply asking your customer to go online and rate their experience.
Having a strategic reputation management plan will help you ensure your business is properly represented online. Our inbound marketing team here at PHOS can help you win at reputation management so you can focus more of your time on running your business. Get in touch with us today to get started.