Having a good reputation is fundamental to running a successful business. A good online presence is important - that is, your website should portray your business, products and services accurately, and you should appear in the appropriate online searches. But once those basics are in place, you're not done. Managing your online image is an ongoing job.
Below, a summary of our perspective on how to build that image and manage it.
Be an Active Participant in Your
Online Marketing Presence
Your social media channels should reflect what your top customers think about, and share with others, concerning your business. Ideally, you'll solicit (and receive) reviews online from satisfied, regular customers. (There are many ways to do this, and we can help.) Legitimate reviews from your customers will paint an accurate, helpful image of your company for your prospects, and will help show yours as a trusted business.
Some customers are reluctant to provide online reviews, however. Don't despair! You can create many positive online posts from your customers' perspective that can give prospects and vendors an accurate (and positive) understanding of what it's like to do business with you.
When a customer says they have been referred to your business by a friend, that alone is worth posting on your Facebook Page, Instagram feed or other channel. Something as simple as a thank-you message can highlight that positive feeling of doing business with your company.
Photos lend authenticity to the post - a simple snapshot of an item that the customer purchased or commented on is fine -but if you don't have a photo, a smiley emoji will do. Consider a short and sweet message like, "It's so nice when our customers refer others to our business. Thank you!" That kind of positive message encourages your customers to think of their own positive experiences with you and your business.
Tag your vendors in social media posts, as well, with messages of appreciation or to recognize their achievements. When one of your vendors joins a Chamber of Commerce or reaches a milestone, create a post with a shout-out to the company. "Proud to do business with XYZ company for the past 5 years," for example, will also highlight the fact that your company is a trusted partner in the local business community.
When a Customer is Unhappy
It happens - your return policy, being out of stock of a certain item, a price increase from a vendor means you have to raise prices. There are a million ways to upset customers - including making an honest mistake. What can you do to avoid a poor online rating or review? The key is to respond as soon as possible after a customer posts. (This goes for positive reviews, too - but it's especially important to monitor and respond quickly to negative mentions.)
How to respond? As soon as possible, take this three-step action:
First, thank the customer for bringing the matter to your attention, on the social media tool (or tools) where the comments are posted. In the same post, apologize for their less-than-stellar experience, and ask the customer to contact you directly so you can work out a solution that is acceptable to everyone.
This accomplishes several things: A quick response shows that you pay attention to your customers and their concerns, and a polite, measured response tells prospects and customers (including the upset one) that you're serious about conducting business the right way. And, very practically, it takes the conversation offline. Very little can be accomplished with an upset customer at a distance. Speaking with the customer on the phone is the best way to resolve a problem. Once the problem is resolved to the customer's satisfaction, it is ok to ask the customer to remove the bad review (or add a line noting that the problem has been solved). With the right response and just a little bit of luck, you may win a new fan for your business, online and off!