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How To Manage Your Small Business’ Online Reputation

New business owners often make the mistake of not caring enough about what is said about them and their brand. This is a big mistake, as your online reputation is a critical part of your business’ image and should always be monitored.

What is online reputation?

Your online reputation is the perspective that is projected online regarding your business’ brand and its services.

This image or perspective – be it true or false – is what Internet users will see when they search for your business or services. Needless to say, having a sterling reputation will help attract more customers, while a tarnished one will have the opposite effect.

How is your online reputation affected?

There are many ways your online reputation can swing from one extreme to the other. Common reasons include:

  • The quality of your products and services
  • The delivery method of your products and services
  • The time it takes for your service or product to actually reach your customers
  • How easy it is for customers to use your goods and services without a steep learning curve
  • The support you offer customers before and after they have purchased your products and services

These things can positively or negatively affect your online reputation in a direct correlation. In other words, if you deliver poor quality products, you earn a poor business reputation.

How is your online reputation expressed?

Today, the Internet has become a technological monster with nooks and crannies many of us will never see. However, there are still thousands of well-known sites and platforms that could potentially alert others to your business reputation.

In these places, messages used to make or break the reputations of small businesses like yours get maximum exposure. Examples include:

  • Social media platforms
  • News and gossip websites
  • Chat websites and messaging apps
  • Forums, blogs, and article directories or archives
  • Review sites that are set up for the specific purpose of reviewing businesses of all sizes

Your clients will head to such platforms and sites to write and post about their personal experiences with your business and products. These pages are then picked up by search engines, and whenever “review” is included in a search phrase with your business name, these pages are the ones served high on SERPs.

Therefore, you should keep track of these websites and platforms whenever your brand name (or your product name) pops up. A simple Google alert should help you easily stay on top of things.

What can you do once you get negative reviews?

If you’re unlucky enough to find yourself at the end of a negative review, don’t panic. Think of it as a learning experience and immediately begin alleviating the problem. Steps you should take include:

  • Don’t delay: nip the problem in the bud by addressing it in the shortest possible time. Whichever action you take, do it as soon as you find out about the negative review.
  • Analyze the review: take a close look at the review and see if there is any truth in the claim. Look at it from a client’s perspective and see if you can arrive at a reason why they would not be happy with you.
  • To reply or not to reply, that is the question: some reviews will be so outrageous that you won’t even need to bother with an answer. If you’re lucky, your other clients will stand up for you and defend you. Only reply if you are sure you can address the issue convincingly and can do so with a cool head.
  • Dig deeper: if you keep records (as you should), try to trace the exact sale to figure out what could have gone wrong. Go through your documentation to see if the issue was avoidable. At the very least, this step will help you clearly isolate the problem. You can then make sure it doesn’t happen again and can take the necessary steps to make amends with the complainant.
  • Give a public response: once you have arrived at the root of the problem, give a public response detailing how you handled the issue and try to rebuild any trust that you may have lost due to the bad review.
  • Repair the damage: once the problem has been addressed you can use two methods to get the review removed. First, ask the poster (your unhappy client) to remove the review as you have both reached a favorable solution. Second, ask the review website to remove the review as the problem has been addressed. It will be much easier if you can prove that the review is slanderous, happens to be a false accusation, or is against the website’s own policies.

Always aim for positive reviews

The easiest way to avoid negative reviews is to get positive ones. Therefore, always aim to deliver the best quality of service. That way, the negative reviews will be far outweighed by the positive ones to cause any damage.

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