Consumers have always relied on word of mouth and reputation when deciding what brand of an item to purchase or whether they will visit a business. Today’s consumers rely heavily on virtual word of mouth, via social media or online reviews. Business owners have to learn to communicate with consumers in new ways to promote and grow their businesses.
According to the Harvard Business Review, with only a
The first step in reputation management is to listen to what your customers are saying. If you have a great product and excellent customer service, people are probably talking about it. Check out your social media outlets. When customers take the time to post, take the time to respond, regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative.
Determine which review sites are most relevant and beneficial to your business and create profiles. Facebook is an excellent B2C forum while LinkedIn is primarily B2B. Your target audience might be influenced most heavily by Google+, Yelp or another local review site. Once you have set up your business profile, be sure to check back for activity so you can engage when customers reach out.
In addition to responding to your customers, take time to post consistently on the social media profiles. You create a persona for your business and begin to gain influence in your target community. Tools like Hootsuite or Likeable Local can make it easy to set up regular posts in advance. Just be sure you continue to monitor the outlets regularly for feedback.
Many customers have great things to say about you and just need a little reminder to do so. Remember the difference that one star can make? Be willing to ask customers to write a review about their experiences. Online and offline feedback is valuable in two ways; feedback can encourage others to buy your product or service, and can inform you of areas your business could be improved.
Thank your customers for their time and comments. This small step shows that you value your customers. Share your customers’ compliments on your social media outlets because they have great value as marketing content.
When you do get feedback, make sure you are actively listening. Both positive and negative reviews are opportunities for growth and improvement, if you handle them properly. Proper responses to reviews are always positive, professional and polite.
Monitor your review and social media profiles and when you get feedback, respond promptly. Thank the customers for their comments and let them know that you appreciate their business. Subsequent views of your interactions can influence other potential customers. Always respond in a positive way, even if you feel that criticism is unjustified.
If the customer has a legitimate complaint, take responsibility for the problem. Admitting that something went less than perfectly gives you the chance to keep communication open with the customer. In addition, your response will encourage other customers to trust that when something goes wrong, they can count on you to hear their concerns.
Maintain a professional tone. The customer may be wrong or unreasonable, but your professional manner could be the difference between a positive resolution and a lost customer. Again, future potential customers will be impressed with your respectful treatment of your customers and your availability.
When a customer is unhappy, offer a solution. That solution may be a simple invitation for the customer to call your company to talk in person about the situation. Personal conversation and attention can make all the difference in a conflict situation because they show that you respect and appreciate your customers. Once again, the interaction is recorded on social media or a review site for all future customers to see. Your business may be judged unfairly on the basis of one unpleasant exchange, so consider your response carefully before you post.
Evaluate all of the conversations that you have on social media or on review sites. Think of ways to improve future customer dealings and if necessary, improve your product or service. Preparation can reduce future misunderstandings or conflicts.
All business owners would like to have 100 percent of their customers leave happy and provide return business. However, that scenario is unlikely. Since 89% of people say that their purchasing choices are influenced by online reviews, a crucial component of your marketing plan should be to create and nurture a positive online reputation. Reputation management is especially vital for a successful business in this era of online purchases and communication.
For more information about reputation management or assistance with other digital marketing aspects of your business, contact one of the SEO Experts at WSISimplyROI today!