Reputation has always been one of the primary assets for any business – if the word gets out that you cannot be trusted, individuals and other companies will be wary of dealing with you. If you are accused of shady activities, you are bound to lose partners, if only because being associated with you could negatively affect their reputation.
However, in these days of instant communication and always-online connectivity, reputation is particularly important. Social media, instant messaging, and broadband Internet ensure that any bad news about your company will spread like wildfire. A bad review can go a long way: 89% of US customers use online reviews to decide whether or not to deal with a business.
This article covers some ways you can manage your company’s online reputation better.
1. Check your digital imprint
The first thing a potential new client does before making a transaction is to Google your business. What do people see when they enter your company’s name into the search box? According to a recent study, companies on average lose about 22% of business if there is a single negative article on the first search results page. This share jumps to almost 60% if there are three such articles.
What is even worse, negative articles are not the only thing that can harm your image. Rarely updated websites, inactive social media accounts, inconsistent messages across different channels – all these can serve as potential red flags. You may look for them manually or try using special software developed for that purpose.
2. Use the right communication channels
Your business’ reputation depends, to a significant degree, on how effective you are at communicating your messages to clients and other businesses and at responding to communications in a timely and relevant manner. If your company becomes known for having a hard-to-reach customer support team or not responding to queries, you will experience problems. Choosing the right channel plays a significant role in establishing a positive, long-standing image for your business. Texting is one option that has been trending; if you want to know why texting should be used as a communications tool, consider this: 98% of text messages are opened, compared to only 22% of emails. When clients make calls to a business, most are placed on hold for about a minute, and only 14% of calls are not placed on hold. Text messaging may look impersonal and cold, but it certainly beats having a client try to contact you and hanging up in frustration.
3. Manage online reviews
A huge part of reputation management consists of tracking and managing online reviews, because they are the first thing that come into the spotlight when somebody tries searching for your business online. Start with identifying the primary platforms your clients use to evaluate your business, and try to figure out which have the most influence. Create your own accounts for each of them, study the platforms’ policies, and start going through existing reviews. Some of them will be spam, so you should flag them. Thank clients who left positive reviews. If a review raises an issue, respond to it and offer to resolve it – clients tend to value a resolution more than than a non-issue. After that, schedule regular (at least weekly) monitoring of all new feedback.
4. Get more reviews
You cannot just get a certain number of reviews and be done. Sixty-nine percent of customers consider reviews older than three months to be irrelevant. This means that you need a constant incoming flow of positive reviews if you want clients to see your business as thriving and functional. There are many ways to encourage customers to publish reviews: send them an email after they make a purchase, request a review via SMS, design a landing page around receiving reviews. The possibilities are endless.
5. Publish valuable content
The content you publish should be what your clients find valuable, not what you think is valuable to them. You have probably heard “content is king” for years, but here is a stat to give you some perspective: 75% of customers claim that a company’s content makes a significant impact on their buying decisions. If you do not care enough to offer your customers valuable content, they see you as being in business only for the money.
Reputation management is a vital part of any business strategy – especially today when everything you do or say immediately becomes known to everybody.
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