For many industries, the Internet changed every communication in every possible way.
From understanding how customers prefer to shop to how a corporation keeps track of their many locations in various regions, digital has become the norm for public relations, marketing, and corporate communications. Many channels are now being monitored, managed, and measured for effectiveness.
One of the most important changes in this shift has been from a marketer-driven brand image to a consumer-driven brand shaping, which dictates how a business is perceived and accepted. Learning how to bank on this trend will most likely determine the success or failure of many small and medium enterprises.
With almost 80 percent of Americans reading reviews prior to making a purchase or hiring a service, business organizations can no longer relegate online reputation management as a secondary priority.
To do it right, a business organization must focus on grassroots-based initiatives that focus on quality and excellence in all facets of their product or service. It starts from the bottom, from each employee relationship to how the consumer experiences the business and brand.
Start Here. Yes, Right Here.
There is no denial that everyone will eventually get an anomalous negative review. And it might not be reflective of the quality of the business.
But truth be told, a bad online reputation does not happen overnight. The types of negative trends likely to blemish a brand are often the result of passivity and neglect that goes on for a long time. Making internal assessments that gauge customer service is a great way to prevent online blemishes.
After all, 61 percent of customers are reading reviews to make sure the product or service works. It seems everyone is starting from the same place.
A great example of responsive customer-service surveys can be found in how Square allows users to automatically generate a post-transaction survey that allows businesses to address process, service, and product flaws before the customer decides to rant online.
Studies indicate that the majority of negative reviews are the result of customer escalations that were improperly handled on the first or second attempt. Replace your passivity with customer-focused proactivity, and protect your online reputation from the start.
Reputation Management is Important for SEO
If you outsource your marketing, then you have probably allocated budget for search engine optimization. Because customer-driven opinion is on the rise and many of the popular review websites tend to rank higher than branded URLs, you may want to consider shifting your energy and resources into a review- and reputation-management-heavy strategy.
Work diligently to ensure that every profile for your business is up to par in content and images, and provides as much information as your website to facilitate the customer’s shopping experience.
Engage in responsive review management, and make sure multimedia is updated frequently.
Use the Right Tools to Manage Your Reputation Efficiently
When it comes to reputation management, time is of the essence. With hundreds of sites capturing, syndicating, and distributing reviews, having a centralized platform like ReviewTrackers, which allows you to capture trends and see activity in real time, is essential to the success of your reputation management strategy.
Doing this manually is inefficient and often results in costly oversights and decreased brand image. Getting the full picture will equip you to make agile business decisions and correct trends before they snowball into a public relations and reputation crisis.
Dominate Through Diversification
A quick search for a generic category will show you that those in the lead show up more than once for a particular search. You will see links to their social profiles, their review site profiles, and more than one page within their domain.
By making sure there is ongoing review flow in the more popular review websites for your segment, you stand a good chance of having page domination through diversification. Make an effort to have consistent quality across the board, and clear messaging with the most updated information about your business on every single site.
Create a Healthy Feedback Loop
Don’t let great business intelligence go to waste. Use consumer reviews to support organizational changes aimed at improved products and/or services. Unsolicited feedback found in consumer reviews can give you a worst-case scenario picture that lets you focus on the most dangerous pain points of your organization. Tackle issues promptly to avoid getting dinged for a particular scenario more than once. It’s not all bad. In fact, online reviews can be good for your business.
Keep your chin up!
Align Your Responses with Your Brand Standards
Make this the year of improved standards. Define your brand voice, and make sure your responses and remedies are consistent across all review sites.
By having guidelines on how each scenario is likely to be handled, as well as the tone and style of responses, your business can avoid embarrassing faux pas. Simple moves such as reminding everyone tasked with responding to reviews to use branded names and spell-check their work can have tremendous impact on how shoppers perceive your business.
Track Trends, Embrace the Good, and Correct the Bad
Go beyond the feedback loop and take a look at what makes your customers happy. Capture those trends and embrace them as best practices for your organization. Improving on what you do best while correcting problematic aspects of your business is without question a recipe for online reputation success.
Include Syndicated Networks to Amplify Your Brand Voice
When it comes to customer reviews: the more, the better. Many review sites have become part of networks that syndicate content.
For example, Insider Pages shares content with multiple smaller and local websites, amplifying your online presence through a variety of channels; while other reviews show up on services like Yahoo Local, Google’s Knowledge Panel and even Apple Maps.
Take time to make sure you are working with these networks. you can be confident these networks will work for you.
Integrate Your Reviews to Your Overall Online and Offline Marketing and Branding
If 8 out of 10 consumers rely on reviews when making purchasing decisions, then why not integrate your reviews to every aspect of your marketing?
Look for your best reviews, and include them on printed media as customer quotes, or consider highlighting menu items as customer favorites as conveyed on review sites.
Look for widgets that you can easily incorporate to your website in order to have real-time review feeds. Don’t forget to include your social pages as channels to display your hard-earned five-star reviews.
By serving this information in a one-stop-shop format, you significantly increase your chances of conversion.
Be a Promise Keeper: Deliver What Customers Expect and More
If your goal is to achieve (or sustain) a five-star online reputation, then work to deliver on your brand promise and then some. By exceeding expectations and finding ways to surprise and delight your customers, you are likely to garner customer loyalty, and you stand a great chance of getting an online shout-out. Be sure you audit your deliverables often, and create realistic expectations through your marketing copy. Stick to the old adage of under-promising and over-delivering. Your online reputation will thank you for it.