Sticks and Stones Can Break Your Bones, and Words Can Hurt Your Business
Most business owners are aware that negative press can hurt a business. Large scale negative publicity, such as that which AIG received over the government bailout and Transocean’s Deep Water Horizon drilling incident, can damage the reputation of corporate powerhouses. Far more insidious, and frequently less recognized, is how negative online reviews impact small businesses.
What people say about you matters. By paying attention to- and actively managing- your online reputation, you protect the credibility of your brand. In the upcoming year, businesses who neglect to watch their online reputation are sure to see a loss of revenue. Mainly due to the speed and ease at which consumers can access online business reviews, managing credibility has become a primary focus for smart entrepreneurs.
The volume of online traffic is staggering. According to recent consumer research reports, nearly 274 million Americans now have Internet access. Roughly 80 percent of those users are searching for information online. Motorola’s Holiday Shopping Study shows that half of all buyers are more informed than the sales associates. This means that consumers are making informed purchases.
So, you know that you need good reviews to build your business. What happens when you get a bad review and how do you fix it? First, monitor what is said about your business. Negative comments don’t always come from consumers. Former disgruntled employees, ex-business partners, and competitors may leave negative feedback for reasons that have nothing to do with your competence or product quality.
People are more likely to vent and spread the negative when they are completely unsatisfied than leave positive reviews when they are satisfied. Many people don’t leave positive reviews when they think you just did what you were supposed to, provided the service or product what they’ve paid for. This doesn’t mean they are unhappy, but most of these costumers won’t go to YELP to leave you reviews. However, dare to deny your client’s unreasonable request, they will surely go to leave negative reviews.
There are reputation management companies that are selling their service for a hefty price. But is there any magic solution? What to do if you can’t pay thousands of dollars for reputation management?
Find The Negative
- Go to Google, Yahoo, Bing and do a search on your company name.
- Do a search with adding the word “review”, or “testimonials” after it. In some case “ripoff” or “scam” would bring up something.
Then go to review sites and search for your business:
- Google Map
- Yahoo Map
- Angie’s List
- Merchant Circle
- Insider Pages
- Yellow Pages
Monitor Social Media
You might have a negative comment posted on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Monitoring sites like these are critical to knowing what- if anything- is being said about your reputation.
Monitor Your Brand
- Monitor your website, brand names, competitors by using Google Alerts.
Both Google and Yahoo allow you to set up alerts based on specific keywords.
What to do when you find negative comments?
If you find negative comments or reviews, sign up for an account and always respond to them. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away. In fact, a bad review that goes unchallenged lends credibility to the claim. Take the time to put your emotions aside and craft a response that will shine a spotlight on how devoted your business is to solve the issue. If the complaint is legitimate, make amends, apologize and explain how you have fixed the problem.
In most cases, you can’t tell the review site to take it down and you can’t sue the person who posts the negative comment. However, you can do some damage control. Many review sites don’t want you to solicit reviews.
Begin building a positive online image by
- Send your customers surveys (survey monkey) and ask for feedback. Tell them you want to use their feedback on your website. Create website pages for positive reviews: name these pages REVIEWS or TESTIMONIALS.
- Try to knock off the bad review sites by buying as many domains as you can keep up with like “companynamereviews.com”, “companyname.net”, “companynametestimonials.com”. Make mini websites with unique content, add your positive reviews. Optimize them right.
- Sign up to Artslant, Formspring, Spotify, SoundCloud. These social media sites appear high on Google along with Facebook, Twitter, Houzz, Pinterest, and Youtube
Be active on these sites, update them, add new content sometimes. If you won’t take care of them, they will fall off the search engines eventually.
The bottom line is that regardless of whether your business is online or a traditional brick and mortar location, offer the very best in customer service. It is far easier to establish a good online reputation than it is to repair a damaged one.