How to Get Started with Reputation Management

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A few years back I was managing 20+ automotive dealers online reputation across more than 15 review sites.
This was quite the undertaking, but it was paramount to the success of the dealerships.
According to Search Engine Land:

  • 59 percent of consumers look at two to three review sites before making a decision.
  • 54 percent of consumers will visit the business’s website, after reading positive reviews.
  • 68 percent of consumers form an opinion by reading one to six reviews.
  • 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation — if they meet their requirements.

The findings from Search Engine Land tell us consumers form opinions quickly. Not just quickly, but their decision is influenced by others opinions.
In order to be proactive with consumer reviews you must develop an online reputation strategy.

Online reputation strategy musts

The strategy is no more than a plan of action to make sure you respond appropriately to all feedback.
“Appropriately” will change depending on whether the review is negative or positive.
Most customers tend to respond if they are either very happy or very upset. There is not usually any gray area which makes sense. If their experience was mediocre, they’re probably not motivated to tell anyone about it.
To help you respond to good and bad reviews, here is the list of strategies I used while managing dealer accounts.

Be quick to respond

Regardless of if the review is good or bad you should always try to respond within 24 hours. Though, the sooner the better. Your customers want to know that a real live person is there for them. To hear their praises and critiques. The quickness of your response could also mean the difference of a negative experience turned positive.

Acknowledge concerns & criticisms

It is your number one priority to acknowledge the customer’s concern. Regardless of if you feel the concern is real or not; that does not matter. It is real to your customer and that concern should be acknowledged.

Respond on behalf of your company

You are responding to reviews on behalf of your company. If a customer is upset, confused, happy, sad; that is on you. It is your job to communicate effectively and represent the brand well.

Don’t let anyone wrong you

There will be a time where someone posts false information in a review. Do not stand by and let them slander your company’s name. Report them, and get the review removed.

Get the entire story

Especially in the case of a negative review, you want to be armed with as much backstory as possible. This added information allows you to better rectify the experience of the customer. By adding additional details it shows you are going the extra mile to resolve the poor experience.

But, where do I look for reviews?

After developing an online reputation strategy, you need to know where to look for customer reviews.
For the sake of this blog, we will only focus on business to consumer (B2C) review sites. However, there are industry specific review sites that you should be keeping tabs on as well.
Here are the top 4:

  1. Yelp – One of the largest review sites where consumers can rate your business. Free.
  2. Google My Business – Helps your organic ranking on Google and reviews will show up in Google Maps. Free.
  3. Foursquare – With millions of users, it’s an important place for business reviews. Being featured is free, but when someone acts on your ad you pay.
  4. Trustpilot – Typically used for company and product reviews. Free and paid option.

The key takeaway – customers are talking about you

Developing a strong reputation management strategy will influence and develop trust with repeat and prospective customers. Further, it will provide you valuable insight into your service, convey and develop a brand personality, and improve your organic ranking.
The internet exists. People are going to be talking about your business. You have the choice to use that to your advantage or disadvantage.

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