Business professionals and executives today value online reputation management. This is because they have come to know how important it’s to maintain their reputations. Companies with a strong reputation attract more customers than those that either haven’t established or maintained theirs. Consumers see brands with a well-managed reputation as better. Furthermore, they associate more value with their products and services. This encourages repeat customers, long-term clients, and brand loyalty that will garner a following.
Whether it’s a large corporation, a simple brick-and-mortar store, even a mom and pop local service, online reputation management is a challenge to any business. Responses varying from thanks to corrections of information, to apologies is time-consuming. If you’re the owner of the business, it is even more difficult. It’s because of how personal that business to you.
According to a Forbes report, 90% of consumers check reviews and comments about a business before they become a patron. Reviews and reputation on Google, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook and other pages can make a big difference in your bottom line. It also affects how people perceive your company.
A Poor Online Reputation or Damaged Brand Causes Lost Trust and Credibility
Bad or negative reviews and comments come in for multiple varying reasons. It regards employee performance, product quality, shipping issues, pricing confusion and more. Usually, businesses boast of their capabilities and raise consumer expectations through advertising and marketing. The problem is expectations get overblown easily. If a consumer feels the business has made empty promises, this can cause disappointment and complaints. When customers feel disappointed, they often share it online. This can not only damage the business reputation, but it’s revenue as well.
When a business is unable to follow through on their promises it will break the brand trust built up by them if it is not properly rectified. Any complaints and issues shared on social media and review sites can take a long time to overcome. It is only remedied by online reputation management, improvement of service and encouraging more positive inbound feedback from other clients.
Negative Reviews Can Lose Sales & Impact Revenue
Long before Harvard Professor Michael Luca’s well-received research on the impact of reviews and reputation on the revenue of businesses, companies across the country already had the gut instinct that their reputation influenced their leads and revenue. The professor found that so much as a 1-star dip in reputation could affect the revenue by up to 10% for a small local restaurant. These initial findings lead to further research showing the significant impact that reputation has on a business’ revenue.
From a logical standpoint with internet marketing, we can look at this from the perspective of conversion rate and optimization. When people are looking for a company to fit a need, they look at your business first. If it has a poor reputation, they are less likely to convert from the stage of impression or initial traffic to a site visitor or lead. Their initial lower perception of your business will lead them to pursue other options before “settling” for a mediocre solution.
Businesses that are otherwise enjoying a booming growth could suddenly plummet after a series of bad publicity and negative feedback. Poor online reputation will damage the long-term success and goals of established businesses. This could potentially put smaller companies completely out of business.
Companies can even lose product vendors and shelf space. It is because retailers see a lower return or satisfaction. Retailers then put up fewer of their products or stop buying them altogether. Thus, potential consumers will have fewer chances to buy from them. Thus, making the road to rebuilding more difficult. A good guideline for any business that is in it for the long run, is to have a plan. They also need to process for reputation management or to hire a service to handle their online reputation management.
Gradually Lose Your Online Presence
Any business that doesn’t consider online reputation management can gradually lose more than just its reputation. Search engine rankings are negatively affected by a poor reputation as well. A poor online reputation is the same as telling Google and other search engines that consumers don’t like this business. So, it might not belong on top of search results. It would be difficult to rank regardless of the other numerical statistics that may lend it ranking credibility.
If you have a company that doesn’t maintain its reputation, Google could oust your website or Google My Business listings. It would be thrown into the abyss in the future if you don’t improve your online reputation. On the other hand, if you have a poor reputation and begin to manage it effectively, it could lead to large gains. You’ll have gained in converting more leads to clients. When there are bad reviews associated with a business, it will influence the number of consumers clicking on the website. This is an influential factor when ranking websites on Google Search Engine Results Pages.
Aside from Google, a business’ ranking on review portals like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and others would slowly decline. It could affect 3rd party referral leads and traffic. Every negative review and rating can drag a business down. If it’s not addressed properly by an effective business reputation management practice, the business could eventually land at the bottom.
Damage Bottom Line
For many businesses, everything boils down to the bottom line. After all, they are in the market to make money and any negative review will be a hurdle in their quest to make money. According to an article from Moz.com, businesses can lose 22% of their customers because of a negative review or article appearing in their search. This means a business could lose almost a quarter of their customers just because of a single negative result. If there are 3 negative reviews popping up after a search, the potential loss increases to 59.2%.
Brand association is the deep-seated feelings of a customer towards a certain brand, product or service. Unfortunately, a negative reputation damages it. If brand association becomes negative, consumers are more likely to have a negative attitude or outlook instead of a positive one because it’s what the crowd feels.
It will take time for a business to deal with, even with proper online reputation management in place. Moreover, it will be costly because businesses will have to invest in additional advertising and marketing campaigns. They invest in more campaigns to improve or correct the negative sentiment of their online reputation. Worst of all, a damaged brand will allow the competitors to more easily move in. They will then take lead share and even clients.
Handling Negative Reviews & Poor Feedback
Whether the negative review is extreme not, it’s never a good idea to leave them alone. When other consumers see this, it could appear like the business were ignoring the previous customers.
When there’s a negative review, businesses should investigate further and attempt to rectify the issue. If a particular type of complaint appears multiple times or appears to form a pattern, then it means the business, product or service has to improve. Businesses should address the cause of these issues and help the clients affected. Most of all, businesses should consistently practice responding to reviews.
If it’s an isolated case, then it’s easy to resolve the matters privately. It will give the two parties more freedom to discuss the issue. It will make it easier to see whether there’s a problem with the company that needs addressing. Of course, no matter what issue is, it is always a good thing to offer a gift or compensation to the customer. It is a good gesture that may change their mind about the company. It can even convince them to give the business a second chance.
Given that positive reviews will improve your online reputation, it is important to encourage all clients to leave feedback. But the happy clients should always be asked and sent a follow-up. This will help in improving the business’ reputation and at the same time, dilute the negative reviews. Thus, making online reputation management easier.
As the old adage goes, “Prevention is better than cure.” Businesses should focus their time and effort in making sure their reputation will remain crystal clear instead of acting when it appears. Do this by refining business systems, including follow-up. Install an automatic follow-up that sends upset clients to you directly to resolve it, also sending the happy clients to sites the business wants to earn feedback (reach out to us if you want help with this, we will be happy to help set up the funnel). This is mainly a reactive approach on limiting damages.
What businesses should do other than online reputation management is to start or continue to build brand image. Aside from that, they should build customer trust and reputation immediately. This will lead to improvements in conversion, leads, sales, revenue, and even rankings.