Let’s walk through a typical scenario: Your car’s check engine light just came on and you’re heading out to one of the local mechanics nearby to get it looked at. You do a quick check on Google maps to see what’s around to find several Yelp reviews integrated into the search you did that are quite telling of the quality done at the two different locations you’re considering.
For location A there are 8 five star reviews with positive comments and for location B, you see the opposite, there are 8 one start reviews with negative comments. Of course, you want the best possible service, so you simply go to location A, and forget completely about location B.
Unfortunately for location B, the negative reviews were either old/outdated or completely incorrect as the store actually does perform top notch service. This is a pretty typical story for many businesses or even people that don’t consider managing their reputation online.
Does this really matter though?
When we ask our friends if they have an opinion on whether or not a store provides excellent service and they say “yes, indeed they do” most of us generally trust that opinion. According to modern research, 88% of people trust online reviews the same as if they had asked their friend for their opinion.
This isn’t limited to Yelp reviews, it is entirely possible to have angry customers yelling at you from all fronts. Facebook, Twitter, and even your own website are some of the most impactful channels in which these reviews can be seen. Through the megaphone effect, anyone can create a review that can drive thousands of potential customers directly away from you.
Of course, there are exceptions to these rules like when the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO received an astronomical amount of bad reviews on all of his sites because of his statements about who his store’s clothes were meant for. The strange part is, he had planned all of this out and wanted the bad reviews to make his loyal customers even more loyal, thus creating a highly exclusionary brand. We highly recommend not using this tactic, though, for many obvious reasons.
Where to begin with reputation management?
You begin by putting yourself in the know. Even if you’re under the impression that everyone loves what you have to offer, check all your online profiles regardless. First find the numbers that mean the most by using an analytical tool to see what review sites are giving your website the most traffic. These sites will probably be able to tell you what you’re doing right, to give you a picture of what you want.
From here you want to take a look at all the big platforms like what was previously mentioned, Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, and the independent review sites that bring all the reviews about related products into one space.
Choosing how to react
This is the most important part of the process. Remember, no matter what you do, you will always receive negative reviews at some point. Here at DSA we have seen quite a few debacles arise simply from a manager that was angered by some reviews and responded to the reviews with that angry tone. This will absolutely do nothing but hurt your brand and sales, in every instance.
If you prioritize being empathetic, sincere, and quick, you will have an easy time with your reputation management because you’re alleviating the biggest issue your angry customers are having – being heard.
However, remember that with reputation management you can never fix a mistake that happened in the past, but you can help to fix the bad memory that was created in your customer’s minds. One way to do this that many companies adopt is offering an in-store credit or percent off next time they come in to repair do the job right. This gives you a second chance, if they’re willing to take up your offer.
What else you can do?
If your bad reviews are still dragging you down and you know your service is top notch, you can try to promote your business in a positive light over the internet with the positive reviews that you do have. Dedicate pages to hold only the positive reviews you’ve received and make that page easy to find on Google so that people searching for you will see a more accurate picture of what you stand for.
Another way to manage your reputation is to encourage those that do value your service to give you a positive review through a medium of your choosing. This can be made easier by giving an incentive for writing a review, like a discount on their next purchase with the writing of a review.
Whatever you take from this, never forget that people are talking about you, for the better or for the worse. If you’re willing to take a few minutes a day to hear out your customers, it can be extremely rewarding. With 88% of people trusting the online reviews about your company as much as hearing their friend say it, online reputation management has never been more important than it is now.