Managing Your Online Reputation
8/10 consumers trust brands that offer reviews, especially if there are bad ones too!
Sounds like an odd thing to say but the reality is in the consumer-to-consumer marketplace, the truth surfaces about products, services, ideas, and companies. For instance, when looking at reviews for bed and breakfast options recently, some friends of mine showed up with a very bad review from a disgruntled customer. I wondered, how could this be? This place is gorgeous and the hosts warm and courteous. I wanted to find out from them what happened so I asked them. They had no idea about this review but had noticed a dip in their bookings and when they looked at the review, they quickly knew what was going on and told me the other side of the story. The reviewer in question had failed to book through the proper reservation system and assumed they would hold a room for him for the same time each year that he had been visiting during leaf-peeping season in Vermont. As the hosts were not aware of a booking they of course gave the room out to another party who had booked properly. He was furious and called them to complain. A few days later, some deeply unpleasant reviews began to surface on Trip Adviser and their bookings dropped during their most important season. Once they had sourced these reviews back, they went on the offensive and reached out to other long term guests asking them to provide some fair and balanced feedback on Trip Advisor. They came flooding and started to push the bad reviews down becoming clear to others that there was a malicious hijacker at work rather than a bona fide review(s). The lesson from this is that you will get bad reviews from time to time – it’s the nature of people’s sensibilities. It’s healthy in fact as it allows you as a business to learn from your customers to make your business better, much like test marketing. However you must keep a close eye on any muckraking and manage your reputation as best possible. Unless people break codes of conduct, then it is hard to have conversations removed from your digital footprint, but you can contribute to the conversations and provide more of the type of content that you want associated with your brand. Encouraging customers to do the same is key, as people love user generated content in a trust based community as the web is. How can you monitor your brand? Two suggestions:
- Set up a Google Alert on your brand, which means that whenever you are mentioned in news, other blogs, customer reviews etc you get emailed a list of these results either daily, weekly or monthly to your choosing.
- Search you brand in Google with Google Suggest and see what Google is suggesting as you type. You will see any bad associations and be able to investigate the search results.
The blogosphere is an open and often candid forum, so being able to smell a rat and respond can help restore that trust that might have been lost either fairly or unfairly, as in the case of my friends at the B & B. Strengthening your community in life and online will inevitably help you create a strong business. Tell me your stories on this. How you have had to manage your online reputation?
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