Online reputation management is the need of the hour. It can help your business increase the conversion rate and decrease the ill effects of negative press. But if you do not know how to do it the right way, ORM may look like a really difficult task. On top of that, if you try to do everything together, reputation management may become even more unmanageable, especially if you are a small business that doesn’t have enough resources to assign to 10 different tasks.
So it’s advisable that you follow a step-by-step approach.
Engage in a Two-Way Communication
You can easily talk to your customers (and prospects as well) by taking full advantage of the social media. However, you must also use the social media channels to listen to what the customers have to say.
It’s a two way street.
You can tell them about what you offer, and can even share the feedback of others, but at the same time, you must be open to their feedback. If they want to share their experience with you, be all ears. In fact, ask them about their experience proactively to find out if you have dissatisfied customers. Proactiveness can help because dissatisfied customers hardly speak up.
You can use these channels for an effective communication:
You may be really good at whatever you do, but one or two customers might still not be as happy as you want them to be. It’s not your fault, so don’t blame yourself, but learn to accept that you cannot please all your customers. However, if you are not there when they want to talk to someone and vent out their anger, then that’s your fault. If you lose this opportunity, they may talk to other customers. Before you know, the word would spread. You must prevent this situation. Here’s how you can do it:
- Make it possible for the customers to share their feedback with you
- Rectify the issue, if possible
If you succeed in satisfying dissatisfied customers, give them some reasons so that they come back to you in the future.
Give Reviews Their Due Importance
One of the best reputation management techniques is respecting the customers’ opinions. If they express their views, you must listen. Even if you do not, other customers would. In fact, some recent surveys have suggested that close to 90% of customers make their decisions on the basis of online reviews. If that’s the case, reviews are more important than all of your marketing efforts combined. Therefore, they deserve your undivided attention.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do ask for reviews. Just like it is with customer experience, you can be proactive here as well and ask the customers for reviews.
- If they give positive reviews, try and get them to share these reviews on your preferred links. But always ask them first before you send them these links.
- If they oblige, thank them for their support. You can even send a thank you note to get into their good books.
- Don’t offer monetary incentives for reviews. Any such attempt may damage your reputation further.
- Don’t create fake reviews.
- 19 companies were fined in New York last year because of such reviews. You may also attract penalty.
- Do track your reviews online. Chances are that your customers are already reviewing your business on Yelp, Google+, Insider Pages, TripAdvisor and other review sites. Take ownership of your profiles on these sites.
- Do not ignore Google Places. Reviews posted on Google Places can tell you how well you are doing locally.
- If you are asked to look for an ORM company, you are unlikely to search for “Online Reputation Management Australia”, and may rather choose Sydney or some other specific location. Your customers are likely to follow the same approach.
If marketing is all about making the customers aware of your products and services, online reputation management calls for self-awareness.
You must find out how you are perceived online.
If anything is being said about you on the internet, you should know about it. But how’s that possible?
- Use tools such as Google Alerts so that you can obtain relevant information.
- Create alerts and make sure that you receive them on daily basis.
- If you want your ORM techniques to work, think from the users’ point of view.
- While talking about your business, they may unknowingly misspell its name or use some abbreviation.
- Take note of all such exceptions and create alerts accordingly.
Whenever you come across any published information that is either related to you or your business, you must respond to it immediately.
Customer reviews can either be positive or negative. If they are negative, they may impact your business. However, you must not retaliate. In fact, it is in your best interest to apologise.
An apology can make you look good, again.
Here’s WHY and HOW you should apologise:
- Customers are always right. Even when they are not, they like to think they are. You must respect their perception.
- If a customer has wrongly accused you of something, others may still support him/her. That’s because they may not have seen the actual incident with their own eyes. When you get into a fight with one customer, you may end up annoying the rest of them as well.
- Your words as well as actions should tell the customer how sorry you are for whatever happened.
- Don’t just say sorry
- Try to resolve the problem
Take Control into Your Hands
If the customers search for your business online, they should get to see what you want them to see. After all, it’s your business. But as already mentioned, you must not create fake reviews and expect that the customers would believe them when they see such reviews. What you can do is create positive content in the form of blogs, articles and press releases. This content can be educative in nature or may talk about your products and services in general – either ways, it should serve the purpose. If your SEO team promotes the content well and ensures that it shows up on the first few pages of Google (if not immediately, at least in a couple of days), rest assured you can counter the effects of negative press.
Apart from content, an effect social media campaign can also help you in ensuring that the customers get to see the good side of your business.
Minimise the Chances of Damage
Every time disgruntled employees, unhappy customers and jealous competitors get to take ownership of domains that are even remotely similar to your business name, they get an opportunity to defame you online. You need to minimise such opportunities. For this, you can buy a couple of domain names, including all the available extensions. The more domains you own, the better are your chances of getting positive results on the 1st page of Google.
Take one step at a time for better results.