Review to a kill: How important are online reviews of your business?
Reputation is a measurement of how much you are trusted by a relevant community – your customers, suppliers, the public and other businesses.
But since the invention of the internet, it has never been easier or quicker for a brand’s reputation to be damaged – and bad publicity can have a serious impact on revenue, with corporate reputation estimated to equate to 4-5% of yearly sales.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffet
From dissatisfied customers leaving angry reviews to a hashtag gone awry, how can you guard against PR disasters and reputation bungles which could lose you clients?
5 practical tips for maintaining your business’s online reputation:
- Interact with customers
45% of senior executives believe a brand’s reputation is tied to its online sociability. Favouriting tweets and replying to Facebook messages validates customers’ interactions with you, encouraging them to share your business with others – and proves you are staffed by real people.
- Respond to reviews
Word-of-mouth is still the primary driver of a customer’s purchasing decision, with 85% of consumers reading up to 10 reviews before they decide to trust a business. Even if you’ve nothing more to add than a polite ‘thank you’, replying to comments makes the reviewer feel valued. If they’ve left an unhappy comment, simply apologise for their experience and offer to make it up to them – it looks better than getting angry in the long run.
- Know what’s going on
It might sound simple, but staying active on social media shows your page is up-to-date and ensures you’ll be the first to know of any negative publicity. Regular use can even help your pages stay higher up in search results.
- Share success stories
If you don’t want others to be in control of your reputation, make sure you’re leading the conversation. Identify “good news stories” from within your business, share press releases and blogs across your online presence, and encourage discussion with your own hashtag.
- Look for opportunities
Need more to talk about? It’s no coincidence that getting involved in your local community or lending a hand to a good cause will get you noticed, and give you something positive to build into your brand.
Too little, too late?
Whether it’s an employee accidentally tweeting from the corporate account, or a very vocal attack from a dissatisfied client, here are 3 tips to turn a bad situation around:
- Assess the damage
Look at how much harm has actually been done. Is it just hurt feelings, or reputational damage which might cause a problem with your other clients? 1 bad review among 50 nice ones is not worth getting stressed about, but something offensive which gets picked up by the press is going to require action.
- Take time to cool off
Talking of action, it’s easy to panic and react immediately. While it’s important to be aware of the problem quickly, letting the heat die down can often give you a better impression of the damage that’s been done. Sometimes doing nothing can even be the best course of action, rather than engaging in online battles. Far from looking complacent, it can help you look calm and controlled.
- Admit mistakes and commit to fixing them
If you are at fault, or what a reviewer says is true, it can look best to graciously admit your mistake and apologise. If you can, offer a complementary visit or service to make up for their experience. But remember, don’t admit liability to anything which is likely to result in a court case or insurance claim, and never discuss internal procedures regarding employees.
More than just a bad review? Insurance can offer vital protection if you are accused of causing financial loss or physical harm through your work.