Don't let the phrase intimidate you: Online Reputation Management does not need to be difficult to be effective. Learn how to do it for your business by following these steps.
Oh, if it only it had been this easy to manage your reputation in high school. It may have been impossible to shake an embarrassing nickname or win the acceptance of the cool kids back then, but today you have the power to shape your own narrative - at least when it comes to your business reputation.
In today's tech-focused world, people trust what they read online. There are certainly plenty of downsides to that, but it's good news for you.
All you have to do is get people talking about all the great things about your business, and customers will come running.
Impartial Is Important
Say you run a coffee shop. You can spend all day, every day posting on social media about how yours is the greatest coffee in the city. You can hire a PR firm to tell strangers about your incredible prices. You can take out an ad in the paper, raving about the flavor of your biscotti. Ultimately, though, many people will remain skeptical.
They'll think, of course you would say that your business is the best. But you're hardly impartial. You can't earn trust of new customers until they try out your service or product ... and yet, they won't try your service or product until they know that it's trustworthy. It's a bit of a catch-22, but there's a loophole...
The Easy Part
Prospective customers will listen to current customers.
Research shows that most people trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Many trust online reviews even more than personal recommendations, actually, because of the larger sample size.
Think about how this might look in your own life. You ask a friend to recommend a contractor, and she gives you the name of the company that worked on her house. All you really know is that one person (your friend) had a good experience with that company.
But when you head to Angie's List or Yelp, you may find that your friend's recommended company has middling reviews. A different contractor has dozens of five-star reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars. Wouldn't you choose the second contractor?
It's the same with your company. Getting a lot of positive reviews from your current customers is the most effective way to attract new customers.
Then those new customers can post reviews and attract even more customers, and soon you can take over the world. Or, you know, just run a really successful business.
The Hard Part (Plus, the Solution)
So, great! All you have to do to improve your reputation, or maintain your solidly positive reputation, is to get your customers to post a steady stream of positive reviews on all the major review sites.
You can't pay them to do it or offer any other financial incentive, because that would be legally and ethically hairy (and may not work, because review sites use sophisticated algorithms to identify and filter out inauthentic reviews).
No problem, right? Just devote a few extra hours each day to soliciting reviews. Who needs sleep?
Just kidding. Getting valuable reviews is actually pretty straightforward. It comes down to two things: identifying customers who have positive impressions of your business and using the right technique to ask them to write reviews.
It might look a little like this:
- A customer transaction ends. In your business that may happen when the person finishes paying for an item, picks up an item they previously paid for, pays the final bill for your services - basically, it's the final moment when you're done interacting professionally.
- You (or the employee handling the transaction) asks a polite question about the customer's experience - something like, "Did you find what you needed?" or "Were you happy with our service?"
- If the customer responds positively, follow up with, "That's awesome! If you have a chance it would mean so much to me if you wrote us a review on [insert review site of your choice]." (If the response to your question is negative, apologize or change the subject, but don't mention reviews.)
- Monitor all the sites on which you have reviews so you can respond to complaints or compliments as you see fit.
Make Life Simpler
Using the above script should yield you some reviews. Most customers, however, won't remember to write a review later, and you or your employees may not always have the time (or confidence) to have the review conversation with each customer.
But by using an automated system like ReputationStacker, you'll remind all the willing customers to write those all-important reviews after they leave your business.
Enter an email address or phone number for your customers into the ReputationStacker system, and they'll each receive a one-question survey. ReputationStacker then automatically directs the satisfied customers right to the review site of your choice, while unhappy customers are directed back to you.
No matter how much time and money you spend promoting your business, you're missing a major opportunity if you're not leveraging your current customers to win new customers.
Getting a steady stream of positive reviews is an easy and impactful way to convince new people to take a chance on you. When an automated system like ReputationStacker does all the heavy lifting for you, growing your business takes no time at all.
Ian Kirby has been working in digital marketing for over 15 years. Having worked both with and for digital marketing agencies and in-house with multiple companies, he has a specific interest and expertise in online reputation management, online reviews, and the implementation of business systems. Ian’s writing, videos, and interviews have garnered millions of reads, views, and listens.