In the last few years, you may have noticed a sudden pressure to get and give online reviews. It may seem like a bother. You are busy! “I don’t have time for this,” you may think. “These reviews are unnecessary. It’s just digital bragging rights. No one cares about who has little pixel stars!” It’s easy to be too immersed in your day to give reviews and too focused on improving your business to push for collecting reviews.
However, we hope you’ll pause to consider them more seriously. The idea that online reviews is just for show simply isn’t true! Online reviews help customers and make up a huge part of your business’ online reputation!
What Is An Online Reputation?
Well, if you want to know what online reputation is, try googling your business! Would you say the reviews represent your company fairly? Do the reviews provide an accurate presentation of your customer service?
Your online reputation is the public’s perception of your business. It is how you are presented online. While word-of-mouth has always existed and impacted businesses, now your customers have more power than ever. The materials you put out about yourself are right next to your customers’ reactions. This absolutely changes the public’s perception of you! If your reviews support your claims of excellence, it builds credibility. Unfortunately, the converse is true. If your reviews are negative, potential customers often will not risk a bad experience and avoid your business instead.
Online Reviews Are A Great Way To Manage Your Online Reputation!
Online reputation management is the strategic process of shaping the online perception of your business through various on and offline practices. While no one is in total control of what makes it online, you can absolutely steer the discussion and positively impact the public opinion of your business or service.
Think about it this way. When you need to try a new restaurant or hotel, don’t you usually go for your phone first? The impulse to visit your favorite, trusted search engine and do some research is very common. Why risk your money without getting some assurance first?
Customer ratings are used to decide how likely each business is to come up when keywords – like, for instance, “Best Thai restaurants in San Antonio” – are googled or searched. If your business has a large amount of 1 to 3 star ratings, it is very unlikely that your restaurant will come up at the top of such a google search. These ratings are all a part of a how likely new customers are to try your business.
It can be hard to consider theoretical customers. You don’t see these people walking by so they may have flown under your radar until now. However, when someone does a search like “restaurants near me,” they are ready to pay someone. The only question is who will win the silent auction for this customer. If you have poor reviews online, then you are missing out on countless sales each day.
This isn’t to say that the content on your website doesn’t matter. It absolutely does! Your search engine rankings are impacted by a lot of different things. Once a customer is engaged with your brand, the information on your website will be very important. They might need more detailed information on the different types of products you offer or directions to the nearest location to them.
However, the simplest way for potential customers to gain information about you is through glancing at the star-rating and reviews that pop up when they search your name. Bad reviews are glaring and do impact potential customer’s decisions about whether or not they want to dig deeper into your business. Take these reviews for example.
In both of these reviews, you can see that well over 100 people engaged with these reviews! If you look to the bottom left, in post 2, 136 people found this post useful. In other words, those 136 people almost certainly chose to patron a different restaurant. Can you afford to lose over a hundred customers because of one person’s bad experience? There is a real monetary impact to not grabbing the bull by the horns and leaning into online reputation management. You cannot afford to have people walking into your business already wary!
Now, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, there is impact of positive online reviews. In Post 3, you can see that the customers left very detailed, positive reviews. Potential customers who are researching questions – like “how are their dishes? How unique are their flavors?How fast is their service?” – can all be answered in these reviews. As a prospective customer, you are left feeling like the decision to dine here is not a risk, but an exciting, new experience.
These positive reviews all lead to a high google rating and a stronger online reputation. The perception of your business is positive because customers have reported a great experience from your business.
Repairing Your Online Reputation
Simply put, to repair your online reviews, repair your customer service. Start from the inside out. If you notice a frequent complaint among your online reviews, it would be best to check out the source of the problem. One or two complaints could be just a coincidental bad experience. Three or more is most certainly a problem on your behalf. Addressing and fixing your customer service will most definitely be noted by customers in reviews, and this will naturally be reflected in your online reputation.
Another tip for repairing your online reputation would be to gain more reviews! If customers are not reviewing your business, the few reviews left on your business stand as the entirety of your reputation. If you have one or two 5-star reviews right now, that may seem fine. However, customers will likely disregard the reviews then. If people aren’t talking about you, then those couple reviews could be you tooting your own horn. Also, when a customer eventually posts a lower review, it will be weighted heavily in the average rating. The more reviews you have, the better you will look.
Tools like the One Question Reputation App are great for customer feedback management. This app provides a great method for collecting customer reviews in real time. If the review is negative, a manager will be notified and it can be addressed before the customer leaves your establishment. Positive reviews, however, go directly online so the hard work that you are already doing gets recognized regularly.
Another great tip for repairing your reputation would be to make sure to respond to online reviews, whether they be negative or positive reviews. If they are positive, thank the customer for participating and providing valuable feedback. If they are negative, assure the customer that you have received the feedback, and would love to follow-up with them to make sure the issue is addressed. DO NOT ENGAGE ONLINE. We cannot stress this enough. Do not engage in a back-and-forth conversation about the issue on an online reviews. This is no different than getting in an argument on the public sidewalk outside your business’ front door. It is not attractive or professional. These issues should be addressed in private.
Now that you know why online reviews are important, it is your job to fix them! If you need help repairing, creating, or improving your online reputation, contact us at 210-899-6772 or OQRA@OQRApp.com today!