Reputation management is a job that’s never done.
In an era when consumers hesitate to make a big-ticket purchase without “Googling it” first, online reviews about your product or service have never been more important. So important in fact, that the sentiment of your online reviews can be a real deal breaker for your customers or clients.
Think about your own Google searches or online activity for a moment:
- When you’re looking for a local restaurant, do you notice the Google reviews?
- Do you follow a brand’s Facebook or Twitter page when you’re thinking of buying their product or service and need a little bit more information?
- Have you ever written a review of a holiday that “went wrong” on a very well-known travel review site?
In some small way or another, we’ve all done elements of the above.
Being an online reputation management agency doesn’t mean we spend our days desperately trying to rid the web of any negative mentions of a brand. That’s simply not possible, but most important for us as professionals, and human beings, it’s just not the right thing to do.
As an enthusiastic brand guardian, it can be easy to take things personally. Seeing a one star review on a prominent consumer-facing site about your product or service truly makes our hearts sink.
When things go wrong, and even with the best strategic planning, staff training, skills and expertise in the world, they inevitably will, those on the receiving end of a bad experience have the right to make their voice heard.
We’ve all done it. The days of talking to a neighbour over the garden fence are gone - if we’re feeling aggrieved, we go online.
It’s actually quite altruistic when you think about it – Our online reviews are doing hundreds and thousands of strangers a good service, because if I had this experience, maybe they will too.
By the same token, we believe the words of an online review as much as a personal recommendation from a trusted friend.
And right there is the key word in all of this: Trust.
Without it, relationships fail. If we cannot establish trust with our customers, clients, prospects and stakeholders, we fail. It can be too easy for a brand to bury its head in the sand when it comes to online reviews. If the business is doing “OK”, then why rock the boat?
In our experience as an online reputation management agency, facing up to negative online noise is the only way to establish true trust with customers. Rule number one, without hesitation, is to respond to negative reviews. It can be difficult to find the words I know, but trust me, not only are you facing up to the problem, you are publicly being seen to face up to it too. That’s really important.
What’s more, customers who have had a bad experience but felt that they’d been recognised and responded to in the right way feel more agreeable towards your brand. Even better, if a negative situation is turned around into a positive experience then that customer is more likely to talk about the outcome to their family and friends.
Trust, if a little shaken, is restored.
Back to the point that almost every buying decision we make is made by “Googling it.” What happens if those results aren’t favourable to your product and service? Then you lose trust.
Online reputation management nurtures the essential feeling of trust between brand and buyer.
Brands see profits increase when negative reviews are proactively addressed. Reoccurring issues can act as a red flag to your customer service and operations teams, plus highlight opportunities to simply get things right, surprise or delight. This has a direct effect on the bottom line.
With the right attitude and strategies in place, online reputation management can turn neutral online surfers into brand advocates within seconds after a Google search.
Being brave, open, honest and transparent in your brand’s online conversations is key.
Yes, there’s a science to it (Google dictates so), but trust is a human feeling, and good online reputation management embraces this with open arms.
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We’re interested to hear your thoughts on this. How do online reviews affect your purchase decisions, and how often do you write a review yourself?
If you have any points to raise, don’t be afraid to comment below, or if you need some help with online reputation management, creating more positive sentiment for your brand on the web, or getting more bang for your buck, contact us and we’ll help you out.