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Reputation Management 101: Reviews

How does your business look online? What are people saying about your products or services? How does your company respond to customers? These are very important questions all business owners should as themselves.

Building your company’s brand is not always 100% in your control.

You can have a perfectly crafted logo, engaging website, incredible ad campaigns, and stellar products or services. These things will certainly help you convey personality and grow your brand. But one of the most critical components of branding is your company’s reputation. Reputation, or the public perception of your company, products, and services amount to what a brand ultimately becomes. This is why reputation management is a valuable skill to develop as a business owner, especially in the foundation repair business.

Ask Yourself These Questions:

  • How does your business look online?
  • What are people saying about your products or services?
  • How does your company respond to customers?

These are very important questions all business owners should ask themselves.

Reviews are the cornerstone of your company’s reputation.

Research shows that 86% of consumers will go to Google before contacting a business for goods or services. It’s likely that you do this before going to a new restaurant, seeing a movie, or hiring a plumber to fix the leak in your shower. Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social media and review websites have made it easier than ever for real people to share good and bad experiences with businesses and products.

If your business appears online with lots of negative reviews, you’re likely missing out on tons of potential customers. It’s often even worse if your business isn’t appearing online at all. It’s a lot like credit ratings; it’s much easier to acquire new credit with a bad history than it is without any history. The details and how you handle situations matter.

Read and Respond to Existing Reviews First

If you’ve been in business for a while or have had a lot of customers, chances are at some point one of them has left a review somewhere. If you’re already managing social media or business pages on Google or Yelp, you should be able to easily find those reviews. You can also track keywords that directly tie to your business, such as your company’s name or the names of prominent figures within your company. This can help locate mentions throughout the web, even if they don’t appear on a review platform. Savvy consumers will often do their own research before committing to a significant purchase and may look to less business-focused social sites such as Reddit or Quora for recommendations. It’s highly recommended to do this anyway, as it provides insight into how frequently your business is being searched for or referenced across the web.

Make sure to read the reviews you receive and respond to each of them, whether they’re negative or positive. Customer service is a very large part of reputation management and how you respond to your customers can go a very long way. Always thank customers for taking the time out of their day to leave a review. It’s good practice to say thank you first and address any specific comments or concerns afterwards. Remember when responding to reviews to avoid being negative or combative, even if the customer is being rude. Keep your responses factual and as positive or polite as possible, and if it’s within reason to do so, offer to have them contact you at their convenience to work on a solution.

Bad Reviews Aren’t A Bad Thing

Contrary to popular belief, bad reviews aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They’re realistic and provide you with a valuable opportunity to show how you handle a negative situation. It’s not possible to please everyone and sometimes things just go wrong with a product, service, or job. How you choose to handle problems can be one of the most powerful ways to increase your positive reputation. Do you argue with your customers and tell them they’re wrong? Or do you apologize and offer resolution?

A shining example of exceptional customer service and reputation management is this one from a popular pet product company called BarkBox.  A customer had a serious issue with a dog toy they’d received from BarkBox. They understandably expected the “Super Chewer” toy they purchased to be safe for their dog, but unfortunately something had gone wrong in the manufacturing of the product and the dog was able to chew and consume the product, resulting in illness and a sizable vet bill. The customer contacted and left a negative review with the company. BarkBox followed up with the customer immediately and provided an explanation. Not only did they explain to the customer what went wrong, they refunded her purchase and sent a replacement box of treats and toys for her dog. They also went as far as to compensate her for the dog’s vet bill and continued to follow up to ensure that the dog was okay.  This is customer service that truly goes above and beyond to make things right. This may not be applicable in every scenario, but it’s an excellent example of how to turn a bad situation/review into a good experience.

Mediocre and negative reviews can also make your business look legitimate. Customers who look at businesses or products online and see nothing but 5-star reviews are often skeptical and will choose a an option that’s had some less positive customer experiences reported because they appear more authentic. Experiences are often not universal, so it’s reasonable to expect that no matter how good of a product or service you’re providing, it won’t be a 5-star experience for every customer you encounter.

How Can I Get Reviews?

It’s simple. Just ask for them! Customers are often happy to provide their feedback when asked directly, especially if it’s convenient for them to do so. To start, it’s a great idea to ask your past customers how they felt about the product or service you provided them. One of the best ways to do this is to send out an email blast with a direct link to your review platform of choice or create a social media post with the link. You can also send out traditional mailers, but the easier you make it for your customer to access a form to submit their review, the more likely you are to receive the feedback you’re looking for.

It’s also a good idea to start automating your review process. Add a link to any sort of templates you may use; your invoices, email signature, social posts, and any thank you or newsletter emails you send out. Add that same link to your website and social media pages. Make it easy on your customers and yourself to send and receive reviews by adding a quick call-to-action wherever you’re able to.

Last but not least, ask customers directly when you’re face to face with them. For example, if you’ve just finished a sale or job out in the field, it’s a great time to ask the customer you’re working with if they’d like to leave a review. This is even more effective if you can offer them a means to submit the review right on the spot with an iPad or similar device. Some services even allow you to send text messages to your customers with links to your review platform, so they can submit their feedback right from their own mobile device. This is by far one of the most effective means to capture those important reviews, as people are more likely to complete a task when asked directly.

Reputation is the Heart of Your Brand

It matters what people are saying about your company, so it’s critical to monitor what they’re saying and respond accordingly. Reviews are a great way to give yourself a little more control in this arena because they allow you to easily access feedback from the customers you’ve worked with and respond publicly to show how you accept criticisms, solve problems, and show appreciation. Doing these things effectively can give your company a positive reputation and, in turn, help your company develop a solid brand.

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