By: Bayshore Solutions Digital Marketing Team

Over the years we have been asked to help guide customers in making decision on how to describe their products and services, organize the information on their websites, and craft responses to customer service issues.

In this article, we are going to give tips on how to manage your online reputation.

The days of having complete control over the public information about your business is over. Because of the advent of social media sites, rating sites, forums, and blogs there are more ways than ever people can interact with information about your business that you don’t have control over.  How do we protect our brand in this new Internet environment by reducing the risk our potential customers encounter when considering doing business with us?

The solution is a 4 step process:

1)      Monitor

2)      Claim Listings

3)      Respond

4)      Engage

 

1)      Monitoring for the web for “Risk”

Web directories have discovered including customer reviews in their listings helps users make informed decisions.  Monitoring these directories manually can be a daunting task. Luckily there are some tools we can employ to monitor the internet for us. One free one is Google Alerts (http://google.com/alerts). Once setup, this tool will send you an email when Google’s crawler finds new information on the web. At a minimum you should set up a Google alert using your business name and the key principals within your business. Other specialized ORM tools that can help you monitor the web landscape are: Reputation.com, trackur.com, and rankur.com.

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2)     
Claim your business listings

Most of the online business directories, like manta.com, allow you to claim your business listing and update the vital information for free.  Search your business name in Google and Bing, go through the top few pages and anywhere your business name shows up in a directory, click through and make sure your information is correct, completely and consistently filled out. Not only will this eliminate potential confusion for people looking for your business but it will help your local search results because the search engines will now have more confidence showing your information.

3)      Respond to customer feedback

The questions we get most often about managing online reputations have to do with responding to negative feedback in reviews and star ratings. The basic rule for this is to never ever respond with a negative tone regardless of the issue. Try to take negative conversations offline as well. Ask the customer to contact your customer service team directly so you can more efficiently address their issue.  Remember everything you are writing is helping others form an opinion of your business and brand so the goal is for potential customers to be assured they will experience an expected level of quality when they do business with you.  Notice we didn’t say “high level of quality” most businesses strive for high quality however some strive for other things like high volume or something else such as offering a unique experience. The most important thing to remember here is for customers to get the experience they expect to have based on the “buzz” or image your advertising has tried to portray. The best possible scenario is when someone has initially reported a negative experience and then comes back to report to the world that you corrected the issue.  Finally, also respond to positive feedback about your business. Thank your customers for taking the time to give the great feedback and share these successes with your staff.

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4)      Engage

Studies show internet users rarely browse past the first few pages of search results. When managing online reputations, this fact can be used to help improve a damaged reputation. Incenting your customers and prospects to interact with your company on social media and in ratings sites can help move old negative reviews down and off the top pages. There are other great marketing benefits to this strategy as well. When someone “Checks in” it broadcasts their post to their followers so you are able to get brand impressions with the peers of an existing customer. With this said, it is important that the incentives are never dependent on a positive review. Feedback must always be authentic in order for this content to reflect positively on your brand.

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When in doubt remember: your future customers want to know that you are “aware and care” about the feedback given by existing customers. Following the steps outlined above can help lower a potential customer’s perceived risk of doing business with your company and therefore increases the strength of your brand.

Online Reputation Management is an ongoing process that requires dedication and management in a professional manner. Many companies enlist the assistance of a digital marketing partner to ensure a strategic and professional stewardship of their brand exposure on the web. Bayshore Solutions has helped many customers with guarding their online reputation and growing their business.  Contact Us today to learn more about how we can help with your brand’s online reputation management.

 

 

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