One thing you can’t control about your business is people’s perception of it, or worse yet, what they say about it.
People love to complain, and they love to do it behind a faceless avatar on your company’s profile or social media platform, which makes online reputation management a dirty job. But somebody’s gotta do it.
It’s important for companies to make monitoring their profile’s online comments a priority before it gets to the point where you’re spending all your time doing damage control.
You want to be the first to know when someone leaves a terrible review on Yelp, Google, or a one of your social media platforms, and know how to best handle the situation by using the following online reputation management best practices:
Create a company profile for reviews
Establish your online profile on various review sites including Yelp, Google Business, Facebook, etc. Assert that it’s your profile just in case an imposter tries to make a duplicate.
Be sure to include high-res images, company descriptions, contact information, videos, and a link to your website in an effort to optimize your business profile and create a sense of ownership.
Create a specific email address that’s only associated with your review site so that you see every alert that reaches your inbox. Be sure to check it regularly just in case a negative review is added that can be addressed immediately and efficiently, and before it causes too much hype.
Mind social media
If your business has a social media presence, which, if you want to be considered a legitimate business, you must participate in at least a couple, you also need to closely monitor your comment threads, reactions, and shares of your content.
Over the last 10 years of social media’s uprising and popularity, the comments section has gained quite the reputation, and not a good one at that. Many social media users have admitted they skip to the comments in a post or an article just to see everybody’s interaction on a controversial topic. It’s become somewhat of a spectator sport.
Keeping that in mind, the last thing you want is for your company to be at the center of an online spectacle. Either you or whoever you appoint on your staff to monitor your social media activity should have all notifications turned on so you can address your so-called “haters” and see if their concern is actually something you can remedy or if they’re complaining just to complain. If it’s the latter, just delete the comment.
Whether the comments are positive or negative, always be professional. Don’t use a canned, generic response approved by your legal department because your followers will pick up on that right away. It’s better to cater to each response on a case-by-case basis providing honest, thoughtful, caring feedback, further perpetuating your business’ commitment to excellent service.
Don’t let the haters bring you down
There’s no cause for panic or stress if you receive a bad review. This is a chance to respond to your dissatisfied customers and ask what you can do to make the situation better. Or maybe you can show your customers that the review has no merit.
For example, my husband and I moved into a new house earlier this year and the moving company we picked was based on not how they handled good reviews (because they did have a very high rating on Yelp), but how the owner took charge and confronted all of the people who left bad reviews, telling his company’s side of the story. The one that most impressed us was the owner’s reply to a “customer” who complained about how bad of a job they did and awarded them just one star. The owner responded by explaining that they hadn't moved anything for her and that she was just a disgruntled ex-girlfriend of one of their drivers. He totally called her out. Another customer blamed them for damaging her furniture. The owner responded by saying they warned her it wasn’t going to fit through the doorframe, but she insisted, and blamed the movers, giving them one star. The transparency was refreshing, so we called them and hired them that day. For the record, they did a great job!
Having bad reviews, whether erroneous or not, can sometimes help your credibility. Customers who see one positive review after another could get the impression that your profile isn’t sincere. If someone looks on your profile and all they see are 5-star reviews, they’ll most likely assume something’s not right and lose trust in your business.
Bad reviews can yield candid, honest feedback that can be used to improve your product or services. You just need to ensure you’re monitoring your comments section at all times and responding to as many negative reviews as you can.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback
Encourage your sales and marketing teams to ask satisfied clients to leave online reviews. Once they’ve bought a product, follow up with them by providing links to your Yelp or Google profiles and ask them to leave their feedback. You can also sweeten the deal by offering a gift card or making them eligible for a raffle to win a really cool prize as an exchange. If they had a positive experience, they’d probably be happy to oblige.
Do this on a case-by-case basis. Don’t send out a mass email to all customers asking for feedback at the same time. It will look highly suspicious if your customers see reviews all left on the same day. You want your profile to be as authentic as possible.
Don’t buy reviews
I’ll say it again. Don’t buy reviews. It’s highly disingenuous and the reviews often look forged. Even if you’re trying to combat some negative reviews you’ve received, it’s better to be genuine, you can’t please everybody, and your customers will take that into consideration when they see a variety of responses.
If you’re running a small business and you’re not exactly sure how you should be handling some of the negative feedback that’s coming in, there are many online reputation firms you can consult that offer tools to effectively manage your reviews, whether good or bad, and generate more reviews from legitimate customers.