The Key to Unlocking a Better Brand Reputation Online
Developing a positive online reputation for your brand relies increasingly on word-of-mouth. As consumers rely a lot more on what others are saying about you - and now that everyone can see what they are saying, even if they have never met or connected - it's more important than ever to explore your online feedback. The only way to control your brand reputation, as much as that's possible in the digital world, is to understand what's out there and make sure as much of it as possible reflects positively on your business. Whether you call this reputation management, brand stewardship or any other buzz term, it comes down to one thing: digital credentials. How you handle feedback online makes a huge difference to how new customers see your business. It's often likened to a ringing telephone: if someone is trying to communicate with you, you're not going to let that call go unanswered. That truth is only amplified online, where anyone with a connection can see what others think about your business.
Online Reputation is an Extension of Overall ServiceIt's easy to look at a negative review or comment online and write it off as "trolling." Unfortunately, the reality is that poor feedback is rarely limited to one disgruntled customer or someone with an axe to grind against your business. Just as importantly, everyone can see it. Even if you're in the right regarding a disagreement with a customer, you can't offer your side of the story if you ignore negative feedback or, worse still, if you never see it. That's why monitoring your online reputation is so important -- and why seeing it as an extension of your real-world service will go a long way to developing a positive feedback. When you treat an online complaint with the same level of service as someone standing in front of you, that commitment comes across online. Prompt responses, a desire to hear the customer and help resolve their issue (however unreasonable), means that you give yourself every opportunity to win back their business. Even if the complainant isn't listening or has no intention of coming back, other potential clients will see your responses and appreciate that you're trying to help. In some cases, you could actually win new business through this "bad press," simply because you showed up online. Conversely, if you normally deliver outstanding service in your daily business but fail to encourage and share that fact online, you're missing out on a huge opportunity. A bad review here or there is inevitable. Remember, you can't please all of the people all of the time, no matter how hard you try! But surrounded by a raft of positive reviews, negative feedback loses much of its power. Encourage your most satisfied customers to leave feedback online, recommend review sites they can use, share their stories, and you'll soon have a base of positive support for your reputation that you can build upon. Start with our guide to sharing five-star reviews and turn your best clients into ambassadors for your brand.
Check Your CredentialsBeyond better connections with customers and building a base of positive reviews, there are many other ways to develop recognized online credentials for your brand. Positive associations also come from respected organizations, industry awards, and, as we discussed last week, the importance of earned media. These are some other areas that you can explore to develop positive associations with your brand, and credentials that you can display strategically across your online assets:
- Awards and honors, especially from recognized industry trade groups,
- Memberships, partnerships and associations,
- Testimonials from clients, usually expanded versions of existing reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook,
- Recognition of quality training programs and/or expertise of employees.
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