85 percent of consumers surf the net for information on businesses, and 70 percent trust online reviews. So a shrewd entrepreneur takes steps to get a high consumer rating. Here are a few tips on developing a good reputation online.
1. Get Online Reviews from Walk-ins. Get the opinion of walk-in customers online immediately. Keep a laptop handy at the counter and invite them to write quick reviews of their own. But please don’t pay anyone to give you good reviews! That’s not only unethical, it’s illegal. You can get caught very easily, and fined.
2. Maximize Your Social Media Advantage. Having a Facebook fan page lets you grab the chance to give prospects a great first impression of your business. But it’s not just about attracting potential customers, it’s also about establishing a community and relationships. In fact, many people have no intention of buying anything through Facebook. Your fan page is where vendors, prospective employees, media people, or anyone else can learn all about your business and the products or services you offer.
3. Handle Criticism with Care. Any business is bound to get its fair share of criticism. Resisting the urge to respond to negative comments is difficult. But the best response could be none at all. See what kind of comments you’re getting first. Bad language or outright insults are inexcusable and should be ignored, and you could have the comments removed if they’re on a review site. But never make the serious mistake of ignoring legitimate criticism and hoping it will just go away. Face the problem, instead of denying it’s there. Handle it promptly and tactfully. Remember, responding angrily could hurt you in the end because words stay on the net permanently.
4. Search Your Own Company Online. Want to know what your consumers and competitors both say about you and your business? Google your business name as well as your own. What you see might surprise you. Using tools such as Google Alerts, TweetBeep, and Social Mention are great ways to update you on what people say about you and your business online.
So once you’ve gained enough information and insight about your company’s reputation online, fix what your customers don’t like, and try to give them what they want. To get a good online reputation for your brand, you have to earn it.