You can’t run from managing your reputation online. You can’t ignore what people are saying and hope they just go away. Now more than ever your online reputation could mean life or death for your small business.
When it comes to managing your online reputation there are 3 main areas of concern that you must manage diligently in order to maintain your reputation both online and offline. Your reputation can take years to develop and only a day to destroy… Your time should be spent on (1) Listening to your customers (2) Responding to good and bad reviews and (3) Rewarding loyal customers.
Online reputation management begins with listening and ends with… listening! To get started listen in on what customers are saying online. Do a Google search for your business, search Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/srch.php) and Twitter (http://search.twitter.com) to see if customers are talking about your business. Once you find out what customers are saying you can start putting a plan together to improve or maintain your positive business reputation.
After you have listened in on what people are saying, be sure to put a plan together to check-in and communicate with customers online consistently. Whether its daily or weekly, you should be checking social networks, business review websites and search engines to make sure your business is maintaining the image and reputation you desire. When bad reviews or comments are made, address the issue promptly, but not defensively. Bad reviews can lead to loyal customers, but it’s all in how you react! Be sure to thank them for their input and see if you can fix their problem immediately. After fixing their problem go beyond their expectations by offering a coupon, discount or some other form of a reward so they can give your business another opportunity. Remember, good or bad, thank the customer and reward the customer, a little reward goes a long way.
And finally, be sure to reward your current customers. So often businesses offer discounts and coupons for new customers, yet totally ignore their current customers. Be sure to take care of your current customers. Your goal should be to turn your current customers into a loyal audience that is ready to support you in any way. In order to create a loyal following you should think of creative ways to have customer loyalty events, customer-only coupons, etc. Be creative! Your current customers are the lifeline of your business and by pleasing them you can create great word-of-mouth marketing to gain new customers. Statistics always show that it’s much easier and cheaper to keep a customer than it is to get a new customer, so think of ways to keep your customers, think of ways to reward them, and make it easy for them to refer your business to their network of friends and family.
If you have any questions or need specifics, don’t be scared to email Mama!