We used to say that one happy customer will tell 10 of their friends; one unhappy customer will tell 100. This concept is magnified in the age of social media, where anyone can post anything, any time, anywhere. Are online reviews a bad thing?
“If you think of the new connected online world as ‘Real Time PR’ and realize that having people talk about your business is a great thing, then online reviews can become a powerful ally in building your business,” says Online Strategist Caroline Melberg. “It comes down to knowing how to be proactively strategic and how to handle them correctly that determines whether they will be an asset or a problem for your business.”
Caroline’s tips for managing your businesses reputation online:
1. Provide outstanding customer service
We recommend utilizing something known as the “Net Promoter Score” … simply, ask 10 of your customers at random, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely would they be to recommend your company to their friends and colleagues – and why. Anything less than an average of 7 or 8 and you may have some work to do in improving your customer service.
2. Offer your clients and customers an easy way to give you feedback – good and bad.
Would you prefer to hear about problems first-hand, or learn about them in an anonymous posting on InsiderPages.com or Yelp.com? Offer your customers and clients an easy way to leave you feedback on how you are doing. If you have a retail location, post a “suggestion” box or provide a survey with every transaction. Allow a spot on your website for customers to leave you a note telling you how you are doing. Provide easy access to contact information so that if there is a problem, a customer can get in touch with you directly. Participate in social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to give your customers another easy way to connect with you. All of these methods are preferable to hearing about a problem via anonymous posting on a site you have no control over.
3. Encourage positive reviews from your satisfied customers.
Most businesses that plan to stay in business have many more positive, happy customers than they do unhappy ones. Encourage your satisfied customers to leave a review for you on their favorite review site. When they tell you about a great experience they have had with your product, service or staff, ask them if they would do you the favor of going out to Google Places or Yelp.com and telling others so they can benefit from your services as well. Most happy customers are enthusiastic about telling others when they have received great service, and they like to help business owners who have helped them.
4. Engage in an ongoing online marketing campaign to get the positive word out about your business.
Do not rely solely on your clients to leave good words about you online. Proactively engaging in an ongoing online marketing campaign where you are consistently putting information out about all the good things you do creates a positive reputation online that will balance any negatives if they do occur.
This can include a regular blog, posting press releases with newsworthy events mentioned, uploading video of your services and products in action, writing and publishing articles about your expertise or participating in social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google+.
Make sure your program includes a systematic approach to “listening” online – that is, monitoring everywhere for mentions of your name, your company name, your products and services – so you are aware immediately when something is being said about you online.
5. If you do receive a negative comment or review – do not panic!
Treat the comment seriously and address it quickly. Do not become defensive or respond to the comment in anger. Investigate what happened, get the facts, and then post a response that explains what happened and what you are doing to fix the problem.
Oftentimes, the way you respond to a negative comment does more to help your business than all the positive accolades you achieve. People know that everyone has a bad day, and by showing how you handle it when something does not go quite right demonstrates your character as a business and will help to build your reputation in the long run.
Here’s the bottom line: online reviews can be very powerful, and you need to think carefully before reacting to them. Customer feedback is an excellent way to learn suggestions for improving your business. In order to improve, you have to be able to take both the good AND the bad reviews into careful consideration.