Taking Charge of Your Online Reputation

With the Internet being so vocal in this day and age learning to manage your online reputation can be very tricky. When compliments are posted online things are good, and as a business owner you want everyone to know hence the reason for (testimonials). But when a negative review or a complaint is published, all you want to do is remove the post.

As your aware you don’t need to have a website to have an online reputation these days. Profiles, reviews and comments about your company, product or service can be found and posted online at any point in time without your permission. What this means is that proactively managing your online reputation has now become apart of your job…

With so many review sites such as Yelp, Google Places, MainMenus etc, the door is open for anyone to post comments about your business as they please. The problem with any negative review is that it cannot be removed in most cases. These reviews then end up staying on the internet for a long time influencing many potential customers decisions. Without a public response from you all these people are left with is a sour taste and a decision to make about you as a company.

Now obviously somewhere along the way there will be a bad review from a frustrated customer that didn’t have his/her way. These uncommon reviews the public and yourself should take with a grain of salt. However if there is a continuing trend of poor reviews, then this becomes reality of your business and you must make a change. (The trend is the truth)

That being said being a consumer for products or services I always looks for how the business responds to poor reviews. In most cases  the lack there of a response tells me that you as a business owner are guilty as charge for a poor experience. Do you stand behind your business, or even care about what people think? If so make an effort, companies consistently fall because of their online laziness.

How to take control

So what do you do?

Claim all your listings that already exist and create a profile for the sites your not on. For example if you were a clothing store, chances are you already have a Google places page. Do the same with all other review sites you can. Claiming your page gives you more control as well as you will now be alerted by email that a review has been posted which gives you a chance to respond quickly.

Sure, you might get irresponsible and illegitimate reviews and comments now and then, which sites such as Google, Yelp and Yahoo work hard to filter out. Those types of comments probably need to be ignored, otherwise you’ll be fueling the fire for those jerks behind the computer to attack again.

However majority of reviews are going to be from someone that legit had a bad experience. In this case you should value the chance to interact with your customers. They took the time to share their experience; you need to acknowledge and learn from it.

Why is this all so important you ask? Well stats show that 80% of consumers whether looking for a product or service consult the web for reviews before making a buying decision. These users typically look for the mass vote from the online community to decide for them.

If someone were to walk into your business and complain about an experience they had I’m sure you would do everything in your power to resolve the situation so they will continue to be your customer. The same needs to apply online, think as though a bad review online is someone walking into your business and telling you to your face in front of other customers they weren’t happy! Whatever you would say in person to overcome this problem should be repeated with your online reputation.

Keep in mind that equally, if someone went out of his or her way to return to your business to compliment a job well done, you’d want to acknowledge that customer’s effort and loyalty as well.

Moral of the story is “COMMUNICATE” with your audience whether the comments and reviews are good or bad. People just want to be heard…