Managing Your Online Reputation Critical to Success

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More and more I am seeing businesses in denial, defensive or destroy mode about their negative online reviews. Why is this? I think it is easy out of sight out of mind.

 

We see it all the time. Small business owners don’t realize how important their online reputation is until someone or several people give them negative reviews. Usually they don’t even see the review until someone else mentions it too them, but at that point the damage is done.

 

I get phone calls all the time from business owners asking for help in responding to negative reviews. They feel vulnerable and realize they have little or no control about what people say about their business. The online world is a new and different world for many small businesses. There are three types of responses we typically see from business owners, denial, defensive or destroy. I’ll cover these three response types later, but all three are not the way you want to respond to negative reviews.

 

Why You Need to Manage Your Online Reputation

 

The big question is understanding why it’s important to manage your online reputation for your business. The short answer is everyone is researching companies online before making a buying decision. It’s easy, fast and very informative. Ninety two percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising when making a purchase decision.

 

Seventy one percent of consumers say they check an online review before making a buying decision and that number is growing exponentially (175 percent year over year). Online review sites like Yelp, Google+ Local and Yahoo Local are increasing in popularity everyday and more and more people depend on these site more than ever. Yelp gets over 50 million monthly visitors, and almost a million reviews per month.

 

The good reviews outweigh the bad (66 percent good, four stars or higher) and restaurants seem to have the most at stake on these review sites accounting for approximately 26 percent of all reviews with shopping a close second with 24 percent. One of the biggest reasons for the growth is that 97 percent who made a purchase based on an online review found the review to be accurate, so people are trusting these site even more, and now with the proliferation of smartphones and apps that are geo-location sensitive, its making looking up reviews easier and easier.

 

The Wrong Way to Respond to Negative Reviews

 

Small businesses are desperately trying to figure out how protect their reputation. Some are even turning to fraudulent means to bolster reviews and sites like Yelp are answer back by flagging businesses that have been caught red-handed with a “consumer alert” status and posting screen shots of infractions. From our perspective we feel the key to successfully protecting one’s online reputation, whether personal or business is to be proactive, be consistent and always be positive.

 

Small business owners are too close to the reason for the negative review that they typically go into “denial” and just ignore those reviews that they don’t agree, telling themselves that people will see through the negative review and in the end they take no action in responding to the negative review.

 

The second type of response is the defensive response, they take an action by responding but take on a defensive tone, which never works to the advantage of the business. The third type of response is the “destroy” approach. The business owner or employee respond by attacking the reviewer and their reputation, this approach is even more damaging to the business than the actual negative review. Here’s an example on how not to respond.

 

There really are only two choices out there for small businesses when it comes to managing their online reputation. To do it or not to do it, but in the end everyone does it. You see if your reputation is damaged enough you will pay for it in the end and it will be more expensive than to take a proactive approach. Look at it like business insurance, it’s essential and you wouldn’t put your business at risk.

 

Dave Meholovitch, Excellence in Customer Service. dave@exics.com, 541-312-4183.

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