by Curtis Boyd
Dealing with bad reviews online can seem overwhelming and defeating. It seems these days every business, big or small, has a review floating around somewhere online. The ubiquity of Yelp and the ease of posting on an individual social media page has turned every consumer into a reviewer. To start, 92 percent of consumers read online reviews. The same study revealed that 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This means that we are approaching a point where word-of-mouth is not the most effective marketing method.
The online reputation of your small business goes far beyond a website and social media accounts. What people are saying about your small business is an important factor in online reputation and can carry significant weight. Consider these points:
- Why spend money on digital advertising when your online reputation is horrible or nonexistent? Potential clients will use your bad reviews—or even lack of reviews—as a reason not to do business with you; that is a fact.
- People sharing great experiences about your company online are selling for you.
- The ant theory: If you see one ant there are generally thousands you cannot see nearby. If one person choses not to do business with you because of a bad review—or because there was not enough information available about your company—there are likely hundreds or thousands of people you never got the opportunity to meet because of the bad review or lack of information.
- Regardless of an amazing guarantee, people want to envision themselves being satisfied with your company and not running into future dilemmas. They would rather hold off on spending money until they feel comfortable.
- People are generally willing to spend more money with a company they recognize as more legitimate and trustworthy that consistently demonstrates high levels of customer satisfaction. Ensuring your small business has good reviews, then promoting those reviews, may help boost business in a positive direction.
- Your company will not grow if it is not being conscious about providing an amazing customer experience. Online reputation and amazing customer experience go hand-in-hand.
More than ever, people are conducting online research before spending their money. People want to see high ratings and low prices. Statistics show that people will read two to six reviews before they will trust a business, according to the Bright Local survey. Getting six reviews should not be difficult, and is practically a requirement in today’s digital climate.
Big businesses tend to not have an issue gathering reviews from consumers, however small business brands are generally not well known, leading to less consumer confidence in the name itself. People are more hesitant to spend money if they can’t get certain reassurances. If you Google your business, what do you find? Comfort and reassurances can come in the form of a stellar online reputation, which can be used to increase consumer confidence in your product or service.
Regardless if your business operates on referrals alone, in order to truly thrive in today’s competitive marketplace, businesses’ need to constantly work on their online reputation.
As a general rule, the more money your product or service costs correlates to more time consumers will spend researching your company. They want to see if they can spend less money and find a more qualified company to fulfill their order.
Here are a few more reasons why online reputation management for small business is a must:
- Increasing revenue: Arguably the most important aspect. It has been proven that increasing your reputation online has a direct relationship to increasing your revenue.
- Credibility: When a lot of consumers and clients are raving about you, your credibility goes up. The more credible your small business is, the more confident the organization becomes.
- Setting the bar higher: When people hire you due to good reviews, they have high expectations for a great experience. This means quality control, which is making sure your business’ fulfillment has benchmarked standards that meet the high expectations of your customers.
- Identifying common trends: Use your reviews as a tool to identify common complaints, issues and critiques. Be constructive with the feedback and use it to identify solutions that can be implemented to prevent these things happening in the future.
- Value propositions: Using good reviews is another tool that is very effective when building value for your product or service.
Online reputation management is a proven digital marketing component that will convert more sales, improve company confidence, improve consumer confidence and allow a company to thrive in a competitive marketplace.
Online reputation management is also a proven method to improve internal processes with your company. If you want more reviews, you will need to implement solutions that will improve your customer experience. Review website memberships steadily increase each year as our society is making customer experience more and more important. If you goal is to get five-star reviews, you have to earn them by making sure more and more of your customers are getting the treatment you want described in your reviews. Our recommendation is to use a survey-based system that reminds them of the employee that provided them a memorable experience. Ask the customer to grade the employee, then ask them to share their experience online. Customers are more likely to share their experience online if they remember an employee providing an amazing experience.
Curtis Boyd is the CEO of Future Solutions Media, a firm specializing in online reputation. They connect the link between high quality customer service and online reputation, work with business owners to address bad reviews and hidden reviews, and advise on best legal practices to generate new reviews from customers who are willing to share their experience online.