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Think about the last time you were deciding which restaurant to eat at or what salon to see for your next haircut. Chances are, you checked online to find a spot with great reviews and ratings to make sure you find a place that will satisfy or exceed expectations.
Today, reputation is more important than ever for businesses because our globally connected Internet helps information spread practically at the speed of light. While consumers love to rave about their favorite businesses online, it seems that one thing we love even more is critiquing and complaining about businesses with poor services, products, or experiences. In a world when it can feel hard to be heard by the businesses you rely on, taking to the Web is a great way to influence the way a company is perceived by others.
Because of this publicly broadcasted network of consumer opinions found simply with a Google search, it has become absolutely crucial for all businesses to stay on top of their online reviews and reputation in order to stabilize and increase revenue while also boosting public perception.
Here are the top priorities why all businesses should be tracking their online reviews:
Your online presence may be larger than you think.
Simply keeping your website up to date is not enough to manage your full online presence. Whether deliberately or not, a company’s online presence extends deep into social networks, review sites, search engines, forums, and message boards. If you are not aware of all the locations where your reputation is being influenced, then you have no power to control it and it may warp the public’s view of your company. No one wants to be unknowingly thrown under the bus.
Word of mouth trumps all.
When it comes to making decisions about which company to give their business to, consumers most rely on word of mouth, and especially word from the mouth of people they trust. Because we find ourselves in this technological age, the speed of the global Internet makes word of mouth travel faster than ever. Almost instantaneously, people can spread opinions about your company that could determine whether or not someone else will choose you. Don’t take this lightly and keep track of what words are being said about your company so that you can respond accordingly.
It’s not always in your control.
It seems like a business owner should be able to control what kinds of listings are on the internet regarding their company. Yet, other sites (especially directories) can list your company’s information without your knowledge. Information or reviews about you could be compiling in these directories and without thorough reputation management, it could be negatively impacting your results. Sometimes these sites can be hard to find manually, but there are great software programs out that that help to streamline reputation control.
Monitoring the feedback loop will help better your business.
Paying attention to reviews and ratings being left for your business will help you identify weaknesses, threats and strengths. You’ll be able to hone in on what is working for you and what, on the other hand, could use a bit more work.
Rather than relying solely on surveys or marketing data, you can learn what the people honestly think straight from their own mouths (or in this case, keyboards). This will allow you to improve your services or products and better reach your target audience.
Response can make or break you.
Responding to customer concerns, complaints, and even compliments is crucial in maintaining a solidly positive reputation within your target audience. It’s a best practice in marketing to respond to every single comment regarding your company, making every consumer or potential consumer feel like your company cares.
Keeping response rates up will improve your engagement, strengthen your current relationships and forge new ones. When there are negative comments, reviews, or ratings, responding to them professionally and with care will greatly influence the effect of that negative comment on the general perception of your company. It can mitigate further damage and keep issues contained.
Sometimes, the negative things posted about your company are not even true, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make an impact. Staying on top of your reviews will give you the opportunity to intervene when necessary to set the record straight and keep good PR.