Why Online Reputation is the New Business Currency
BY: MATT SHEALY ON THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2016
You’ve spent years and years building your local business to where customers love you. All that love comes from reliable service and personal relationships that have fostered trust and credibility with those you do business with. Now imagine all those businesses have started to struggle to keep the lights on. It’s not because they stopped providing great service or their customer relationships have gone astray. The phone has just stopped ringing with new customers on the other side. One day that business owner got a call from an existing customer saying “your company has some negative reviews online and people are talking about you in social media.” For years if a customer had a problem with your service they would tell you to your face. Today that conversation is happening online - with or without you.
Business Listing Reviews Impact Perception
Have you ever gone online on a Friday night and searched for “best Italian restaurant” only to find yourself digging through each of the restaurant’s reviews to try and distinguish which place had the best pizza? Yeah, me too. This is the same thing that happens when someone is searching for your business whether you’re an accountant, insurance broker or doctor. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Like it or not, one bad review can significantly skew how potential customers perceive your services. If you’re not proactively dealing with your online reviews you are most likely losing customers. Here are a few tips on building your online reputation:
Range – Where your business is listed and the accuracy of the information on those listings plays a huge role on how people see your business online. Only being found on Yelp and Google Local is missing the boat on potential clients who use other listing services or who find incorrect information where you are listed. Imagine sending potential customers to a competitor because your address is wrong in a bevy of listing sites.
Authenticity – There are a ton of unethical fake review services out there who will help you game the system by writing glowing reviews of your business straight from India when your business is in Chicago. Fight the urge to do it the easy way and focus instead of encouraging actual customers to write authentic reviews about their experience. Real reviews are easy to distinguish and help to shine a light on what makes you different. Once you obtain real reviews make sure to respond to negative reviews that will inevitably happen.
Recent – Not only do people like to see recent reviews of a business but search engines will rank businesses higher who continually get reviews. Continually ask customers to review your business. A great way to do this is to include links to review sites in emails that get sent out to confirm appointments or thank you emails after a visit to your office.
Quantity – Think about it, if one lawyer has 1 review with a 5 star average or 58 reviews with a 4.5 star average who are you going to call first? Consistency help prove your businesses ability to be reliable in servicing a lot of customer and not just a few – even if not everyone is 100% satisfied.
Quality – This is pretty self-explanatory. The better reviews you have the better your reputation online. As long as the reviews are honest from real customers quality is sure to result in a great reputation and more business.
It’s up to businesses to manage how people perceive them online just like it’s the consumers’ responsibility to research businesses online before working with them. Keep an ear to the keyboard so you can manage any negative comments while continually encouraging your customers to give honest and thoughtful reviews of your service. If you are truly providing a great service, your customers will be happy to tell the digital world and your soon to be customers will be excited to find a quality business to work with.
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