With over 3.5 billion internet users and U.S. adults spending more than 10 hours consuming media every day, what consumers read about you online has a huge impact on your brand perception and, ultimately, revenue. The star ratings and online reviews your business receives affect everything — from where you show up on search results pages to the size of your red dot on Google maps.
And there is ample opportunity for consumers to rate you. With connected devices multiplying at a staggering rate, the option to click on a star rating is always at consumers’ fingertips. Seven of 10 Americans seek out opinions before making purchases, according to Mintel.
To ensure your online reputation accurately reflects the quality of service you provide, you have to get a handle on what people are saying about you across multiple channels and websites. It’s a huge task — one that requires proven strategies.
These six pillars of effective Online Reputation Management will get you on the right path to managing — and improving — your online reputation.
1) Request and Respond to Reviews
It’s important to monitor and respond to all online reviews — positive or negative — in a timely manner. Instead of waiting passively for reviews to come in, have a kiosk in your store or office where people can easily fill out a quick review before leaving. Or your teams can send simple rating requests directly to customers via email or SMS. The easier you make it for people to review you, the more likely they will. Implement a tool that curates reviews from various sources — Google, Facebook, Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Yahoo, HealthGrades, and others — so you can take action.
Make sure your teams respond promptly. If it’s positive, thank them. If it’s negative, do something to alleviate the issue. This demonstrates your commitment to customer service and may prevent dissatisfied customers from complaining on other sites.
2) Use Surveys to Identify and Address Issues
Surveys help you collect information about how customers experience your products or services, identify what you’re doing right and uncover problem areas so you can fix them. Surveys should be brief, readily accessible and easy to complete via tablets, mobile apps or online forms. Some tools help you analyze and report on the data, as well as share insights and statistics online to support key marketing messages and boost ratings.
3) Help People Find You with Accurate Business Listings
With four out of five consumers using search engines such as Google to find businesses, accurate business listings are essential. Erroneous listings lose consumers and affect search results and ratings. If a potential customer gets the wrong address from a business listing, they’ll waste time driving around trying to find you. Such negative experiences lead to negative reviews and damage customer sentiment about your brand.
Google is a good place to start, but your business may be listed on many other sites, as well. Implementing a process for auditing and correcting your listings helps ensure consistency and accuracy.
4) Engage Customers and Prospects with Social Media
No business can evade the influence of social media; it’s critical to monitor social channels and actively engage. Some tools help you track social activity about your business in dashboard format, so you can see the location and content of posts and establish trends.
It’s important to engage via social with the community and influencers to create advocates, drive site traffic and get the word out about positive reviews and feedback. Strategic, targeted social advertisements can help raise brand awareness, as well. Also, make sure you share your reviews to raise awareness of your brand and add credibility to your marketing message.
5) Leverage ORM for Operational Insights
Armed with information about your online reputation, you can make operational improvements across the organization. You may identify a recurring issue — for example, long wait times or multiple complaints about customer service at a specific location. You can use this information to make decisions about needed changes and prevent similar issues from happening in the future. Such operational insights can help you hone employee training, as well.
6) Spread the Word with Flexible Reporting
Finally, reporting is key. Your C-suite needs to see and understand important metrics about how the business is perceived online. The ability to create custom reports will be essential for demonstrating outcomes of your reputation management efforts.
The Right Platform Makes All the Difference
Not all Online Reputation Management platforms are alike. Find one that’s structured around the six pillars, and you’re off to a great start. Learn more by reading our success kit.