Today, when customers are deciding whether or not to do business with you, the easiest place (and probably first place) they’re going to check is online review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. In fact, if you don’t think your online reputation means anything, look at these findings from the BrightLocal 2013 Local Consumer Review Survey: 79 percent of consumers surveyed say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Keeping Up With Company Mentions
So how can you stay on top of what is being said about your business online? First of all, make sure you set up a Google Alert with your name and your business’s name. Google will send an email to your inbox when these keywords appear anywhere on the Web (you can tell Google how often you want the alerts so you aren’t inundated every five minutes). It’s also a good idea to set up a Google alert for your competitors to keep tabs on what’s being said about them.
You can also use an online service like Postling, which not only helps you manage your social media accounts, but also helps you monitor what is being said about your business on social media. And always remember to check any and all review and ratings sites like Yelp and Local.com.
Handling Negative Comments
Try not to get defensive; take time to think about your response before you write. Always answer the critics with facts rather than letting emotion enter the picture. If you respond publicly, you will be judged in the future by your response, so make sure you can stand by it. Offer to make amends and do everything you can to win back the business. If too much damage has already been done and you need a fresh start, consider contacting a company like ReputationDefender, which can move the bad review further down in search results, most likely to a second or third page where few people bother to look.
However, the best way to deal with negative reviews is to prevent them before they happen. If someone takes the time to review your business, it usually means either they had a wonderful experience and can’t wait to tell their colleagues and friends, or they had a horrible experience and they want to get back at your business. Always follow up with customers to make sure they were satisfied with their experience and if there is anything else you can do for them.
Last, but not least, make sure your website clearly posts your contact information so clients can quickly get in touch with you about any problems instead of taking their complaints public.