Online Reputation Management
Word of mouth has always been a determining factor in the success of a business. This is even more true in the era of online ratings and rankings, where your customers can be your best ambassadors or worst critics.
Online review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Citysearch – among others – are gaining popularity among consumers, who consult other consumers’ opinions online before buying a product or service.
This is a new challenge for business owners, who must manage the reputation of their online business.
“Today, in the virtual world, everyone is a critic,” says Patrice Béchard, one of the vice-presidents of Montreal-based ID-3 Technologies, which offers social media consulting services.
The evaluation sites generally offer a five-star rating system and display customer feedback as well as photos and general business information. Any social media business strategy should incorporate a management plan for evaluation sites, recommends Patrice Béchard.
“You have to think of all the sites, like Facebook Places or Foursquare, not just the specialized evaluation sites.”
Here are some tips for managing your company’s reputation in evaluation sites.
You must know what they say about your business online. Check your business records regularly by searching Google. Schedule a Google Alert to be notified by email whenever your business name is mentioned online.
“If you do not follow what customers say about you, your business could be denigrated without your knowledge,” says Patrice Béchard.
You can also hire one of the many companies that track and analyze conversations on social media.
2. Take part
Responding to assessments can be tricky, especially when they are negative. But sometimes you just need a little common sense.
If the evaluations are positive, it is best to thank without any sincerity. It’s important to avoid the temptation to close a sale, rectify evaluation details, or offer rewards such as a coupon, discount, or event invitation, according to the Yelp Guide. to help answer the assessments.
“If a gift or an invitation seems like a good idea, it can also be interpreted as a bribe or a way to pay a commendation,” says Yelp. Do not forget that this customer already appreciates your business – just take the opportunity to thank him and introduce yourself. ”
In the case of particularly complimentary evaluations, you could ask the client for permission to reproduce his assessment on your website or in a presentation of your services, adds Patrice Béchard.
Responding to a negative assessment is much more difficult for your company’s reputation. It is important to respond quickly and maintain a polite, calm and neutral tone, regardless of the language used by the other person.
Be honest and transparent. Correct any fact reported incorrectly – by you or the client, but do not delete the bad evaluations unless they are offensive, defamatory or petty.
Since the evaluations are anonymous in many websites and the information is neither verified nor filtered, “some comments should not be taken literally,” says Patrice Béchard. Readers will judge the validity of negative comments based on their intrinsic value and other comments on the site. An investigation reveals that a negative comment may actually reinforce positive comments, as consumers are wary if the overall assessment of a business is positive.
3. Be honest
Do not post false positive ratings. The trick will eventually be stale and you will be really in trouble.
4. Take note of the comments
Customer ratings are an excellent source of business information. Opening yourself to what is said about your business gives you the opportunity to improve your products and solve problems. Do not forget to look at what customers say about your competitors – there is also a lot to learn.