Do You Really Need to Manage Your Online Reputation?

Have you ever gone to Yelp before visiting a restaurant in your area? Read a review on TripAdvisor before making vacation plans? How about checked out a mechanic on Google to read their reviews? Read Amazon’s customer reviews before buying a product? Unless you care absolutely nothing for quality and like to gamble with your hard-earned cash when looking for new products and services, you’ve likely done at least one of these things.

This is called the online reputation and it can be found for companies, brands, products, services, restaurants—even teachers in college on a site called Rate My Professor. The internet is the Great Equalizer when it comes to putting the power back into the hands of the consumer because how you interact with your customer today might just end up plastered all over the internet tomorrow.

Getting Good Online Reputation

Think about the last time you checked out a company’s online reputation. Were there good reviews that helped with the decision? Having a good online reputation is rarely something that happens by accident. In some cases, the service provider is just so absolutely amazing, their customers are thrilled to run home and write rave reviews.

In other cases, companies will hire people or firms to manage their online reputation. We’ll get to what that means for getting rid of bad reputation in a second, but for now, let’s focus on how to build good online reputation.

An online reputation management campaign will likely consist of a very simple practice: asking your clients to review you online. You can do this in person, you can send them an email; you can even give them a call up or send direct mail. The point here is that your customer base might not even know you care about online reputation, but if they know you want it, they’ll likely be more than happy to oblige (providing you are a good service provider or have top-quality goods!).

Of course, if you really want them to help your online reputation grow in a positive manner, you can reward your customers for helping you out. “Review our business on Yelp and receive 10% off your next order!”

Dealing With Negative Online Reputation

On the other side of the coin, you might also have some negative online reputation out there. Maybe it was a completely irrational customer who you tried to please in every manner possible, but they went completely insane, called you every name in the book and stormed out of your store kicking the gumball machine over in the process.

Do you think that person is going to go home and write what really happened on your Google+ page? Nope, they’re going to make you look like an old lady-kicking antichrist. And when other people see that, they are going to think twice about choosing you over your competitors, who have only glowing reviews from their customers.

So, what do you do? Well, the great thing about reviews and your online reputation is that it gives you another chance to remedy the situation. Perhaps a few days later when cooler heads have prevailed, you can reach out via private message, or respond publicly. Do what you can to make amends with the disgruntled customer and who knows, you may turn them into an evangelist for your company.

Further, when a company or individual takes an active interest in their online reputation, it shows other potential customers that the company cares. For example, if you saw a rant ripping into a dog groomer on Yelp but then saw the groomer replied with a pleasant apology and an offer to make things right with the reviewer, wouldn’t that negate the negative feelings you had for the groomer after reading the review? That’s why online reputation management is so important.

Online Reputation FAQs

Q: What happens if I don’t manage my online reputation?

A: Any number of things, mostly starting with a decrease in new acquisitions. You might also see your existing customer base drop off as bad online reputation has a tendency to go viral when left unchecked. Other sites and publications might pick up the poor reputation comments and run with them, especially if your competition has anything to say about it. In short, don’t neglect your online reputation.

Q: How serious can online reputation really be?

A: Consider the fact that online defamation has put companies out of business, resulting in lawsuits that when proven (not a high percentage here), millions of dollars in payouts have been awarded. Online reputation can make or break you and if left unchecked, can do so without you ever having a fighting chance.