Your online reputation is often the first thing a potential customer will look at when considering doing business with you, so making sure you have a strong one is more important than ever. Online reviews, testimonials and feedback all influence people’s buying decisions.
Most people do a quick online search before doing business for the first time with a new provider. Finding nothing bad about you online is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s an indication that no-one has been upset enough to post a poor review but if your competitors have a good, visible positive presence then it may convince your potential buyer to use them instead.
Visible indicators of your good customer service have an impact. A study by Harvard Business Review found that a difference of one “star” in the average rating in a typical online business profile can lead to a 5-9% difference in revenue.
But how can you influence customer feedback and pro-actively manage your online reputation?
1: Listen to Your Customers
Your customers are your best people to help you discover how to make improvements to your business, so listen to them. Set up a system to genuinely listen to and engage with what your customers are saying about you. You may even want to be proactive from time to time and ask for their opinions by doing a survey, but be sure to respond to the answers by posting results or updates about what you learned from the exercise. More importantly if change is needed, let your customers know you’ve listened and what you’ve got planned.
2: Target Relevant Review Websites
You can refine your monitoring process by focussing on the review websites that matter most to your target audience – knowing which review sites are most influential will help you plan an appropriate reputation management process. Whether it’s Google business pages, Facebook or industry specific directories, it’s important you have reviews where it counts.
3: Gather Customer Feedback
Don’t wait for people to decide to leave feedback. Often people only head for the keyboard when they’ve had exceptional or very poor service; that’s just the way it is. So don’t leave the review process to chance – ask for customer feedback from both online and offline customer touch points. If you’ve done a good job, or provided a good service or product most people are happy to leave feedback when asked. When asking, be honest and polite.
4: Share Your Customer Feedback
Positive customer reviews make an impact on your online reputation and can also make excellent marketing content. When customers help by leaving their comments be sure to publicly thank them for their comments and their time. Social media profiles are an ideal place to share your customers’ praise and spread the word.
5: Learn and Improve
Whilst we’d all like to think every review will be a great one, we are all human and mistakes happen. Be ready to accept and learn from negative feedback; make improvements where necessary and be honest. Remember to respond quickly and positively to poor reviews; how you deal with a negative comment could have a major impact. Quick and effective action can often enhance your reputation rather than damage it as people see you are willing to engage and listen.
Customer feedback has become a major factor in consumer buying decisions and online review sites continue to grow as a result. Don’t get left behind or leave it to chance – take action to manage your online reputation and benefit from the marketing advantage it can bring.
If you’d like help establishing a process to listen, gather and share reviews to improve your online reputation, get in touch.