You’ll find that Google lists various details about your company in an information box on the right hand side of the page, giving your firm a sense of cohesion and legitimacy, and putting you in pole position – particularly over businesses with the same or similar name – when people Google your business.
It is however worth bearing in mind that one of the details listed within your business information will be Google reviews, meaning what people say about your business can have a immediate impact on its reputation.
How important are reviews online?
Increasingly, potential consumers are reading reviews about your business online before deciding whether to use your services. Not only are potential customers looking for people who have had first-hand experiences with your company, but the reviews which people write are also seen as a trustworthy source.
A recent study suggests that as many as 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means that the reviews people write about your company – fair or otherwise- are likely to have a direct impact on the online reputation of your business.
Protecting your online reputation
You can’t prevent people from leaving negative reviews and it’s much more likely that customers will take the time to comment on the negatives rather than the positives. Even the very best businesses with the cleanest online reputation may receive a negative review from time to time.
A negative review may also highlight issues your company may have internally which can then be resolved, as well as show the public that you’re dedicated to resolving any customer issues right away. Here are five points which are important to consider when managing reviews:
- Don’t ignore reviews – You should always read and reply to reviews promptly. Failure to handle a customer complaint will probably result in losing them for good. However, responding appropriately may turn their experience into a positive one. This will provide you with a good opportunity to develop a more effective service than those offered by your market competitors.
- Be personal and respectful – Standardised, impersonal responses to reviews will only fuel the customer’s anger. By showing them respect and listening to their complaint, accepting where your company may have made mistakes, you’ll take the steps necessary to address the customer’s concern.
- Be professional – While it’s always good to be personal to each customer, remember you’re representing your company. Therefore, you need to retain credibility and maintain a level of professionalism when responding to reviews.
- Avoid fake reviews – The government is cracking down on fake reviews to prevent companies from abusing the system, while also rewarding those businesses which are following the correct guidelines. Utilising fake reviews almost always does your business more harm than good, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
- Move offline – When conversing with someone online, all of your communications are visible to a large audience. Ensure to initially respond to a review online, so that people can see that you’re taking action. But then it is advised to move communications with the consumer offline to minimise the damage of your reputation. Keep customers updated with progress in regard to their issue and if appropriate post back online once the issue is resolved to “close the loop”.
It’s important to implement a consistent approach to dealing with negative reviews; regularly monitor what people are saying about your business and ensure that you respond appropriately. This way you’ll ensure that the damage that negative reviews may have on your business is kept to a minimum. There is really no avoiding reviews in today’s online world, so acting in the right way could provide significant benefits for your firm’s online reputation.
For more information on online reputation management or review management please contact me on +44 (0)203 542 8689. You can also email me at email@example.com in confidence.