Brand reputation and the reviews left online play a critical role in an organization’s ability to grow. They influence not only the number of customers willing to buy a product or service from them, but even their ability to bring in quality new hires that help to strengthen the organization. As many as 69 percent of people would turn down a job at a company with a poor reputation.
When it comes to making purchases, the numbers paint an even starker picture. Only 48 percent of customers say that they would do business with a company that had ratings under 4 stars. Customers trust these reviews to help them find the best options to answer personal pain points with 84 percent saying that they trust online consumer reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Understanding how to nurture a positive brand reputation and building your online presence with positive reviews will therefore influence the success of your organization. Here is what you need to know about reputation and reviews for business.
Know your objectives and how to plan
To begin cultivating your desired reputation and positive reviews online, it is important to plan, understand how customers look at reviews, and the type of factors that influence the overall reputation of your company.
From a B2B perspective, reviews are an important part of the evaluation stage. Leads want to know what influenced other customers to make a purchase and how that aligns with their pain points, needs, and experiences. Additionally, vendor reputation is the top-selling point for B2B buyers, with over half citing it as an important factor in their buying decisions.
For B2C customers, reviews also play a critical role. For local businesses, 97 percent of consumers report reading reviews, and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) report that positive reviews will help them think more positively about a business. Hotels, banks, healthcare providers, and other B2C organizations should place a high priority on building reviews that enable them to bring in more potentially interested customers and improve the chances of them making a purchase.
There are several different factors that can influence your brand’s reputation and the general perception people have of your organization.
- The reviews customers leave. When people search for your organization specifically or for businesses in your industry, the stars they see for your company give them an immediate impression of your organization.
- How you respond to reviews. Neutral and balanced reviews do not have to be a bad thing as all positive reviews can sometimes look artificial. How you respond to bad reviews and customer complaints, however, will influence what others think.
- The overall social communication related to your brand. Outside of basic reviews, customers also pay attention to what people say about your brand in general social conversation. Knowing what people say about you online is critical.
- Your customer service. How people feel after having an experience with your company, such as checking into their room at a hotel, opening a bank account, or signing up to receive your SaaS all will influence your reputation.
To build a quality reputation, therefore, in addition to excellent product and service, organizations need to include reputation as part of omnichannel campaigns that allow them to focus on building positive relationships with existing and potential customers. Here is what organizations should focus on accomplishing, step-by-step.
Establishing a basic workflow to build reputation
To a degree the steps you take to build your brand reputation will be personalized to your specific industry, niche, and organization. However, there are a few overarching principles and steps that you can use to guide the development of your strategy.
- Work with your customer service team to create protocols and systems for delivering excellent customer service. Learn more about common customer complaints, how they are often handled, and the likely outcomes. Inquire with customers about their level of satisfaction with the service they receive and where they see the most opportunities for improvement.
- Build a staff that you can trust to troubleshoot problems directly for customers whenever possible. It is extremely frustrating for customers to get passed from person to person with no one actually able to solve their problem. Having a service team that is empowered to make more independent decisions based on pre-established protocols can improve the service they are able to deliver.
- Build a strong online presence on social media, Google My Business, and a website that ranks consistently for important queries. You want to build these profiles and sites so that they contain engaging, welcoming pictures of your organization, thorough descriptions so customers feel as though they can gain an idea of what you offer, and build yourself as an authority within your industry.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews. When you have a successful customer transaction, let them know you always appreciate feedback and reviews. You can also use links in email communication, business cards, or the website to make them aware of the review platforms where you have a presence.
- When you get negative reviews, engage directly and openly with the customer. If you do receive a negative review, do not allow it to sit without a response. Customers know that sometimes mistakes happen or a consumer is not a good fit for a product or service and might be willing to overlook an occasional bad review, but they will absolutely watch to see how you respond. Work to address the complaints and improve the situation for them if possible.
- Seek to exceed customer expectations by purposely setting and exceeding your own standards. Make it a company goal to exceed customer expectations regularly. For example, if you promise to get back to them with a resolution within 24 hours, try to make it 12. Set benchmarks that are reasonable for customers, but that you can also surpass.
- Keep promises made to clients. If you make any promises to customers, make sure that you keep them. If you promise to deliver a discount, upgrade, or even a return phone call for a customer, get back to them within your given timeframe. Remember that it is not only the final product or service that matters to customers but also how they feel about the experience with you.
- Monitor your online reputation. As you work to build your online reputation, continually monitor your success throughout the process. Set up alerts that let you know when people discuss your brand online and keep an eye on your social media sites and review platform profiles so that you can address reviews, answer questions, and generally engage with customers. Keep your finger on the pulse of consumer perception.
Top review FAQs and tips for success
While building your brand reputation and cultivating reviews, there are a few tips and tricks that you should also keep in mind to help you achieve success.
Which review platforms are must-have? Make sure you have a strong presence on the major, nearly-universal brand platforms
There are a few different platforms where customers can leave reviews and receive traffic from consumers looking for businesses across industries. For example, Google My Business and Facebook should be a top priority for organizations. Profiles on any review platform should include high-quality images, updated and helpful information, and engagement from the brand when possible.
Which review platforms are best for brands in your sector?
Popular ones that people should note include:
- Yelp, particularly for small businesses and local business
- TripAdvisor, particularly for any business related to the travel industry, such as hotels
- Amazon, particularly for e-commerce and retail businesses
- Glassdoor, particularly when it comes to managing your reputation for new potential hires
- G2 Crowd, particularly for B2B tech businesses
- Trustradius, particularly for B2B tech businesses as well
- Capterra, particularly for B2B tech businesses
How fresh do reviews need to be? Work to keep the reviews coming regularly.
A full 84 percent of customers believe that reviews over 3 months old are no longer relevant. Therefore, you need to make sure that you maintain consistent review cultivation practices as you run your business. Building up several 5-star reviews is not enough, you need to keep the reviews coming.
How do you respond to a bad review? Do not give up if you get a bad review
It can be disheartening to get bad reviews and find yourself with a less-than-optimal rating on any review site. However, the work that it takes to improve ratings is worth it. Just a one-star increase in rating on Yelp can increase revenue by 5 to 9 percent
4 most common review and reputation mistakes to avoid
As you begin to nurture your online reputation and build a wealth of reviews, you will find that there are some mistakes that organizations often make that you want to be careful to avoid.
Offering bribes or rewards to people to leave reviews
Some sites will delete reviews or otherwise penalize organizations that attempt to bribe people to leave dishonest reviews. Customers also get too suspicious if there are no negative reviews, so the strategy can work against you even if you do not get caught.
Neglecting to answer or address criticism in reviews
As already discussed, customers watch to see how brands respond to perceived and actual mistakes. They want to see quality service. How you respond to a negative review can actually help improve your reputation.
Not paying attention to different review platforms
Some platforms allow customers to leave reviews even if you do not formally set up a profile. You do not want your brand to accumulate negative reviews without any input or knowledge from your organization. Monitor the different platforms and take control of your online presence.
Not making review cultivation a continual effort. Your reviews from several years ago, or even several months ago, will not influence customers all that much. Make an effort to bring in fresh reviews regularly.
Your brand reputation and the business reviews you cultivate will have a big impact on how customers perceive your business and whether they will buy from you. If you want to make the most of your online presence, consider how you can use these steps and information to help your brand stand out from the crowd.
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