Recent studies have shown that 4 out of 5 consumers change their mind about a recommended purchase based on negative reviews found online. These are comments from people they don’t even know. Today, over half of the people online actually seek out and rely on online reviews. What’s more, when the product/service has a moderate to high cost, this percentage skyrockets to 89% of people searching for more information online.
Online reviews about your business are becoming increasingly more important. Consumers may be searching for something as simple as your address, map to your location or your phone number. Other times they may already have the intent to purchase and are requesting a quote. Whatever the reason, consumers are now handed personal testimonies about the experience they had with your business. Monitoring and responding to this online conversation has been recently been labeled the practice of “reputation management.”
The term reputation management is relatively new, coined only within in the last 6 years. It was initially intended to broaden public relations outside of media relations. However, with the emergence of social media and online search engines, it has transitioned to the basis of online reviews. The best and most simple way to describe reputation management is that “it bridges the gap between how a company perceives itself and how others view it.”
So what happens when you “google” your business? Is your website the first result? What are people saying on the other sites? Think of reputation management as another opportunity, working in tandem with social media, for you to interact with your customers. If customers give you great reviews, thank them for their business. If they give you negative reviews, politely ask for more information so that you can take action to correct the situation.
Developing an understanding of how to use reputation management can provide you with a competitive advantage. You’ll quickly find out what you are doing well and what areas need improvement. Keep in mind that there are unethical approaches to reputation management that can affect your business. Keep it real, keep it honest and keep it truthful. You’ll discover that past, current and potential customers will appreciate it and help your business grow.