Your business is as good as the internet says it is and the internet does not forget. A few years ago, this statement was debatable but this is 2016 and true to the word, your online reputation as a business will determine whether this digital generation will let you earn their money. This is an era where brands are actively fighting to make it right with the customer before that customer reaches the internet because one bad review online simply means a weaker balance sheet.
These are the key pillars of online reputation:
By choosing to be online today, businesses are slowly losing control of the client acquisition process; they no longer choose who decides to interact with them and instead have to rely on their online brand to do the work for them. While online targeting and customer profiling is a must-do in digital marketing, the main question here is whether your gains on reaching this potential audience will be influenced and negated by your online reputation.
What constitutes online reputation?
1. Online reviews from customers
What are your customers saying about your product? Most online shoppers are extremely discerning; they go through each review with a comb, they find similarities, repeat occurrences, trends, anything that can help them determine if you are the right choice. They find you in every possible channel and they take their time to analyze your business. You must work on collecting positive reviews and managing negative ones.
2. Business responses to reviews
In regard to negative reviews, you may need to know that internet users are a forgiving lot, but the question is, are you forgivable? Are you learning and improving? Understanding and accepting the complaint, comprehensively addressing it and communicating measures that you have put to avoid a future repeat is the key to turning the tide. Open the door to a second chance from that particular customer and others.
3. Involvement in online conversations
You have seen businesses being dragged into social conversations online that could build or break them. A single comment on a social networking site can be the end of your business. An employee saying the wrong thing online gets your business attached by default. Businesses have been bullied by online communities into cutting ties with partners, business associates, or even employees. This automatically means that online conversations both social and business must be managed with extreme care.
4. Offline customer service
Are you supporting your online reputation with offline business improvement? It makes no business progression sense to get a negative review and do nothing about it on the ground. You need to implement measures and recommendations through training, changes to business policy, operational amendments among other requirements. A review does not end with a full stop; more are coming. Seal the loopholes.
5. Online Brand Ambassadors
Good service, correcting mistakes, going beyond the expectations, measuring client satisfaction – these are just some of the things that turn your customers into ambassadors. These are the people who unreservedly appreciate what you are doing and they happen to be your strongest reputation allies. As a business, do not stop at just satisfying, ask these customers to tell others within your strongest customer circles.
Support through the Business Operation
Once you understand what online reputation constitutes and what it means to your business growth, the next step is to align the business operations to support a culture of positivity in the online sphere. You need to take the next step of anticipating the needs of your customers, joining them in online conversations and encouraging them talk to you first before they talk to your future potential customers in form of negative reviews.