The online reputation of your business is so important that you literally cannot afford to sit idly by while it develops on its own. Here are four ways that you can be proactive in managing your online reputation and help steer things in the right direction.
Actively Monitor Your Reputation
You should be constantly monitoring your reputation online, not waiting to hear about the buzz after the fact. Actively monitor your reputation by frequently (every few days or so) checking each of the review sites your business is located on, including Yelp, Google+ Local, and other niche websites. When you claim your listings by joining a site, you can usually opt to be notified by email when a new review or rating appears, so always take advantage of that feature.
Also, set up Google Alerts for your business, and Google will email you each time it indexes a new page with the search terms you specify. Set up several Alerts. You should use your business’s name, of course, but also use any variations of it, your name, your employees’ names, and other terms and names that are unique to your business.
Encourage Online Reviews
Positive online reviews are like gold for your business, but you can’t just sit back and hope that you’ve pleased your customers enough that they’ll get online and write reviews for you. You should be encouraging online reviews any chance you get. When you speak to customers in person, ask them to consider writing a review and include the name of a review site in your suggestion. When people make a purchase online, have an email automatically sent that includes a link to exactly where they can write a review. Remind people through your website, blog, and social networking pages that you encourage reviews, and you should get lots more.
Promote Your Reputation
You can also be proactive by helping people read about your business online. If you want to generate more positive feedback and more customers, take advantage of chances to encourage people to check out the positive reviews that others have already written about you. Include the links to read your reviews in emails. Create a separate page on your website that lists all of your reviews, and update it frequently. As long as your reputation online is generally positive, keep that momentum going by being proud and getting everyone else to see why your business rocks.
Respond to Reviews
Whenever you get a new review, you should consider responding to it. Customers like to know that their voices are being heard (or their reviews are being read), and you can show them that you’re listening by thanking people for their comments, whether they were good or bad. In the event of a bad review, try to turn it around by responding with an apology, and when possible, something that can help make up for a person’s poor experience, like a future discount or refund. Your responses will help offset the negativity as well as further encourage the positives.
Garrett Payne is an online review management professional with a special interest in review tracking. Garrett suggests those involved in review monitoring tips for handling their online reputation correctly.