Best Practices for Reputation Development
Successful implementation of ethical reputation development strategies require the direct focus of a business on its clients’ interests.
With the advent of Internet and Google, almost all businesses now have an online presence, giving tremendous leverage. Online companies have both advantages and disadvantages over bricks and mortar stores. Instant, worldwide accessibility is a huge advantage. Credibility based on online customer reviews and ratings can be a vulnerability. Online reviews from customers have become one of the key metrics for prospective customers in making purchase decisions. Thus, reputation development and maintenance is as vital as the initial setup of the presence, without which the business model will go nowhere.
Popular trip review website TripAdvisor is a repository of reviews of hotels, flights, restaurants, pubs and sightseeing places from across the world. Hundreds of hotels and restaurants have benefited from increased footfall via positive reviews from satisfied customers, and many have lost customers because of bad reviews and ratings. In the digital age, reputation development is a crucial strategy for every business to amplify their business reach and profitability.
Online review websites like Google Reviews, Yelp, and Facebook TripAdvisor are enabling customers to voice their feelings on products and services. The online reviews are directly impacting businesses, positively or negatively.
Best practices for reputation development
Implement an Online Reputation Development Strategy
Building an online reputation goes far beyond delivering best business value to customers. Many companies confine themselves to knee-jerk reactions and patch-up remedies in response to negative customer comments, without ever looking into the underlying causes of the complaints. In ignoring the opportunity negative feedback affords in pinpointing endemic flaws in the business model, these entities lay themselves, open to repeated (and probably increasing) customer dissatisfaction. The approach to negative comments must be aggressively proactive, and work in tandem with a coordinated strategy to business reputation development.
Businesses can choose to set up an in-house team to undertake this task or can bring in external agencies. Reputation development agencies often offer a time effective and ultimately economical solution to what is, after all, a specialist job. A cohesive business reputation development strategy will leverage the business model in degrees of magnitude hard to achieve by almost any other means.
Use Social Review Platforms
Current social media scenarios must be understood, and sequential steps taken towards reputation development. Log in to the social media platforms like Google+ Twitter, Facebook, Quora or any online consumer forum websites and product/service review blogs. All too often, a haphazard clutter of consumer concerns and grievances lie mostly unaddressed on a company’s site: a trail of mismanagement and bad publicity. Many businesses spread themselves over numerous social media platforms and fail to keep on top of all the rapid changes.
Twitter, trending as a quick support platform using hashtags and business handles, is acting as a complaints boomerang. Being an open platform where anyone can access and view anything using hashtags, its impact on businesses can be positive or negative. Businesses failing to match up to customer expectations and subsequently receiving negative online reviews will inevitably see a downfall in profitability. Reputation development is sorely needed here. This is no easy task, as it involves not only addressing the initial concerns but also taking them several steps further to satisfy and go beyond customer expectations.
Proactively Respond to Customers
Keeping the communication channels open and active them is lifeblood to an online business. Despite irrefutable and damning evidence that neglect of complaints directly impacts the bottom line, swathes of companies forge on without any remedial steps, as this Forbes article notes. An unaddressed Google review is a gaping wound in a company’s reputation. The statistic that 89% of customers who have a negative experience with a company start doing business with a competitor should be enough to raise the hairs on the back of any entrepreneur’s neck and galvanize them into action.
This case of air ticketing website BudgetAir.com on Trip Advisor has a thread currently 317 posts long on an initial bad review, without any intervention from the company. This is hardly a good example of online reputation management. An airline ticket costing hundreds of dollars is a significant purchase, and customers will be almost guaranteed to shop around and read reviews prior to shelling out; even more so in the customer base looking for cheap seats. The negative impact on Budget Air’s bottom line this unaddressed comment will have had is enormous.
The journey of profitability improvement through reputation development is one of persistence. It involves being vigilant and aware of your brand identity. All tarnish from negative online reviews must be rubbed with care into burnished, satisfied resolutions. In the cut-throat environment of the online rating war, none can afford to lay down arms for any length of time.
Immediately Deal with Fake Reviews
Unscrupulous sabotage from competitors is no novelty in the business environment and has transitioned naturally from the physical world into the online. Rivals posting as anonymous or fake users can and do leave devastating reviews, groundless in the foundation, solely to damage the business. One of the remits of reputation development is to identify, confront and eliminate these serious threats to the health of an organization. The process may at worst involve litigation. Press releases can act as a precursor or alternative to this unpalatable but sometimes necessary step.
The process of reputation development is not a one-off exercise, and requires a considerable amount of planning and framing strategy. Deepening understanding of its workings and value is crucial to the development of an online business presence, just as much as ignorance or neglect of it will most surely inflict harm.
Reflect on your business operations and let us help you improve your business’ reputation.