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You’re driving to the jobsite when you hear a radio ad about reputation management and how it can save you from “Google death.” You’re skeptical, but intrigued. After all, you know your online profile is critical to attracting new customers. What if there’s a negative review out there from that P.I.T.A. client who kept changing his mind about where he wanted his fireplace, and went ballistic when your sub spilled a cup of coffee on his limited edition Darth Vader phone…
It’s certainly a tempting prospect: having a “manager” dedicated to combing the internet for negative comments and reviews about your company, and then, somehow, making them magically disappear (i.e. get pushed to the fifth page of Google results). But is it really worth the thousands of dollars those companies (some of which are suspected of engaging in unethical astroturfing and extortion practices) charge to do this for you? Does it help build business and improve your rankings? Or are there ways to control your online reputation without hiring some possible bad-news bears to fix it?
Should I Respond to Negative Reviews?
Yes. And No. Some online reputation management (ORM) companies claim they can push negative reviews so far down in search that they just dissolve into Google’s ether. But we think that, in most cases, facing your foes is better than pretending they don’t exist.
- There are two schools of thought on how to respond when someone is saying negative things about your company on sites that you don’t own (like Angie’s List or PissedConsumer). One is to address them right then and there. But some believe that this only brings more attention (and higher rankings) to that destructive post. This other view insists that the first rule of engagement is: don’t engage. It’s just like when a criminal is on the loose and the police tell you not to approach him because he’s armed and dangerous—the situation could escalate and you might get hurt.
- However, if someone brings a negative review or comment to your company’s Facebook, Twitter, or other social media page, it’s a whole different ballgame. Or, to use another crime analogy, it’s like…a hostage negotiation. In this case, you want to engage the complainer in a calm, rational fashion, solving their problem as best you can while maintaining your cool, until they defuse the bomb and let your company go. This approach accomplishes two things:
- It shows the public that you care about customer satisfaction and are willing to do what it takes to remedy a problem.
- It lets people know that they can come directly to you if they have issues with your product or service.
In the case that a website has published incorrect information about your company, you can and should ask them to remove it.
The Only Cure for Negative Reviews is…
Positive reviews. How do you get them? Well, you start with being awesome. Then you encourage your customers to tell other people about that awesomeness.
When you build awesomeness into your business, you significantly increase your chances of building a stellar online reputation. In other words, manage your rep by providing outstanding customer service, an excellent product, and remarkable services as a matter of course.
- Don’t want people to complain about your establishment’s filthy bathrooms? Make sure they’re immaculate.
- Worried customers will tell their friends that your receptionist was rude? Make sure she isn’t—and that she knows how to handle a difficult interaction. If you’re not sure how your customer service staff is performing, try call tracking. It will measure your customer service performance and lead generation.
- Want other homeowners in your client’s neighborhood to hire you to clean their gutters? Go over and above on the client’s job, and make sure your service people are unfailingly polite and professional.
A company culture that promotes excellence, proactive problem solving, and maintaining the highest possible standards goes a long way towards building a bankable online reputation. If you haven’t put this kind of thought and effort into your business, well…you clearly don’t care what people think!
Build a Place for Positive Reviews on Your Website
A lot of our clients have found that a well-optimized reviews page on their company website is a highly valuable property. When you add photos, video, and written testimonials from happy customers, it provides credibility and authority to the site and to your business.
Encourage your clients to share their positive experiences with you by creating an easy-to-use online form, emailing simple surveys, or, if you want to get really radical—asking them! Most people who have had a positive experience will be happy to share it.
Blue Corona has lots of great ideas on how to encourage positive reviews. There’s one really bad idea, though: paying for reviews. This is an unethical practice that is not only tacky, but almost always gets discovered…and leads to a bad reputation.
You Don’t Have to Pay to Play
For most intents and purposes, ORM companies are like bra purses or potato forks: products created to fulfill nonexistent needs. YOU can manage your own online rep by providing quality products and services, addressing customer issues, and building out your website to include positive reviews and other optimizations.
If you are swimming in customer compliments, Blue Corona can help you make the most of them! Give us a jingle or fill out our contact form to learn about how we can use our reputation to build yours!
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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