Reviews and testimonials have always been a major factor in building the reputation of a business. But because of the internet the need for online reputation management has become a true necessity for local small businesses. There are a ton of websites such as Yelp.com, Citysearch.com, and MerchantCircle.com where customers of your business can go and write a review of their experience with you. And those reviews can be both good and bad.
Local search can be a huge benefit for local businesses that want to be seen but you have to remember that customer’s reviews have also become a big factor in determining local search results. Of course not every review is a positive one but the more positive reviews you have the better. The key for small business owners is to be active with online reputation management.
What is online reputation management? Essentially it means keeping track of what people are saying about you. If someone writes a positive review great but if someone writes a negative review then find out why and see what if anything you can do to make that customer happier or at least what can you learn to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Your customers can tell you a great deal about how you are doing as a business and how well your employees are doing for you. You just need to listen.
Here are a few tips to help with your online reputation management.
Listen to what your customers are saying.Go online and do a search that brings up your business. In Google if you come up you’ll see a spot that lets you read reviews. You can also set a Google Alert to tell you whenever someone mentions your business. Read the reviews. And see what sites those reviews are being written on. Google draws on multiple sources for reviews. Visit those sites and if you’re not already, consider becoming a member. Then you’ll have a voice too.
Ask your customers to rate you.The more reviews you have the better. Search engine use reviews as a factor for displaying local search results. Ask your customers to write a review for you on their favorite site. If you have an email list of past customers use that and ask for reviews. You might be surprised at how many past customers will be more than happy to do so for you.
Don’t ever fake a review.Maybe you think you need more reviews. Faking them is not the answer. Ask your customers to write real ones. Building them up might take some time but they’ll be worth it while fake reviews will come back to bite you.
Not every review is positive.Don’t worry that not everyone thought you were perfect. If every review was five stars people might start to think something was up. Getting three stars shows you’re not perfect it provides balance. And an opportunity to improve that customers experience.
Reviews are an opportunity for your business. But they do require a little online reputation management. Be active in learning what people are saying about your business. It’s a chance for improvement and can help you build customer loyalty.