What does your family-owned Business have in common with the pizza joint next door and the antiques dealer across town? All of the above are the subject of online searches. In 2011, one in three smartphone owners used their phones to search local businesses according to MobiThinking.com. Of those searchers, 61 percent called and 59 percent visited the business they searched. These statistics are a good indicator that your company needs a website, social media presence and a stellar online reputation. Otherwise, your customers will take their search elsewhere. You can’t afford that, so consider a few tips that help you take control of your online reputation.
Your Online Reputation Levels the Playing Field
The Internet is accessible to every Small Business, so take advantage of it. No matter how large or small your marketing budget or employee roster is, your online reputation puts you on the same level as big budget and big sized companies. Consider your online reputation as a tool you can use to gain word of mouth referrals and build a loyal customer base.
Manage Online Directories
Your customers can find your business information by simply Googling its name. Have you tried that? If not, do it now, and find out which sites list your business. Chances are, you’ll find dozens of sites like Yellow Pages, Manta, Yelp and Angie’s List that list your business information and maybe even customer reviews. You can’t manage your online reputation until you know what details online directories showing about you, so check them and claim your profiles today.
Google the names of key players in your business too. The results you find when searching for the names of the President or Vice President can reveal what customers are saying about your company. You’ll also want to search for key products because they are the backbone of your business’s economic health. Of course, you might not have time for all that searching. In that case, focus on your company’s name only as you save time without sacrificing your online reputation.
Monitor Customer Reviews
Online directories and even your website sometimes include customer reviews. What do they say about your business? If you don’t know, find out. Those reviews are what potential customers see and use to make a judgment about your business. If possible, check your online customer reviews every day or hire a company like Reputation.com to do that for you. Only when you know what your customers are saying about you, can you respond to that feedback.
Respond to Feedback
Now that you know what customers are saying about you, take time to respond. Your customers deserve a response, and you need to interact with both the positive and negative reviews. When responding to negative reviews, wait until you’re calm, and then reply with an apology and desire to make things right. If necessary, respond in private.
Take time to solicit positive reviews as well. After all, you must have some customers who love you or you’d be out of business. To obtain positive feedback, ask customers if they would be willing to write a review. Brick and mortar businesses like yours benefit from positive reviews on Google Maps, for example, since it’s an interactive and popular smartphone app that’s easily accessible to customers.