First Impressions: A Guide to Online Reputation Management

Since so many customers are looking businesses up online before purchasing a product or hiring them for a service, your online reputation is more important than ever. With the ability to leave reviews on Google, social media platforms, and even online shops, you need to make sure customers are getting the right impression from your business. Here’s a quick guide to online reputation management:

What it is

There are a few different factors that go into online reputation management, but by definition, it’s a practice that aims to create a positive look of your brand/business. This means replying to online reviews, answering messages in a timely manner, responding to negative comments, and more.

Where to focus

When a customer finds your business on Google, the first impression they’ll get is from the Google reviews that customers have left, along with your overall rating. 1- or 2-star reviews can really bring down your rating, so don’t ignore them. When a customer does see a negative review or low rating, they’re going to look at what that person said and if/how you responded. If you respond in a positive way and show that you’re concerned about the customer’s experience, it tells the new potential customer that you have good customer service.

Facebook is another social platform where customers can leave reviews for your business, so pay attention to that as well. In addition, social media users can comment their negative or positive feelings on one of your posts, which other followers will see. Customers can also message you privately to discuss a matter— if you don’t respond or respond poorly, they could potentially screenshot the conversation and share it online, warning others about your customer service.

What you can do

One option to efficiently manage your online reputation is to use a brand monitoring tool which notifies you when people are talking about your business online. These tools do cost money, however, so if you’re looking for a cheaper route, you’ll have to manually monitor your Google and social media accounts.

Check your social media notifications daily, along with your Google My Business, to see if you’ve gotten any messages, comments, or reviews. If any of this feedback is negative, you need to address it rather than ignore it. If a customer had a bad experience with your business, but you respond to them and apologize or let them know you’ll fix the situation, there’s a higher chance they’ll take their negative review down. To make sure your response is appropriate and helpful, follow this basic template:

Thank you for your feedback, [Customer Name]. We’re sorry to hear about your experience. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please e-mail [company e-mail] or call our office at [phone number]. We apologize for any inconvenience this experience has caused you, and we would like to make it right. Thank you again for taking the time to share your feedback.

Since not all reviews are the same, you’ll likely need to add a bit more to your response, such as an explanation as to what happened on your end. If you have the customer’s information, you could let them know you’ll be reaching out to discuss the matter rather than asking them to contact you. Make sure that your review includes an apology of some kind, and don’t just defend yourself as this can come off as rude. The customer wants to feel heard, so let them know you care about their experience.

You can be proactive about your online reputation by asking customers to review your business on social media or Google. This way, if a handful of people leave bad reviews, the majority will be positive, which will keep your rating high.

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