Now it’s time to start building your online reputation. We’ll use the facts we just learned to establish, build, improve and maintain your business’s online reputation and review strategy.
Your Step-by-Step Guide to Building and Managing Your Business’s Online Reputation
1. Audit your online reputation.
Start here: Let’s start with the most popular places people can review your business:
Once you’ve found your business on these pages, claim the listing if you haven’t already and follow the below steps to find your business across other review sites. Once you have a list of sites to work on, ask yourself the questions listed a couple steps down.
Next step: Google your business and see what people are saying about you.
You should probably just start with “[business name] reviews.”
Find all the websites you’re listed on and answer the below questions for each. You will also want to check industry-specific sites like TripAdvisor, The Knot, UrbanSpoon, Cars. com, Angie’s List, HealthGrades, Zillow, etc.
If you’re not sure which industry-specific review platforms are the most important, you can search Google for “[industry] [location] reviews.” Think “plumber Columbus Ohio reviews.”
Prominent websites will show up in the search results.
Almost done: Ask yourself the following questions:
Is your star rating positive?
If you have a 1-2 star rating across directories, there could be a bigger problem. We’ll get into exactly why people leave negative reviews in a bit, but for now we need to start burying those negatives with new positive reviews.
Do you have enough reviews, and are they recent?
If not, make a note of the things you need to work on. You’ll want to check your Google listing as well as your listing on the most popular review websites and local listing pages.
What’s the general sentiment from customers?
If it’s negative, can you use this feedback to improve your business? If it’s positive, let’s keep up that momentum and start getting more positive reviews so that you constantly have new, relevant reviews for potential customers to read.
Complete your audit: Find the top 3-5 sites that need the most work and start there. Keep track of your star rating and the general sentiment of your reviews so that you can track your improvement.
2. Start getting new reviews.
Even if your online reputation is looking great and you’ve got plenty of reviews, you’ll want to continue to get new reviews, since they are only relevant up to three months ago.
And, if you don’t have enough reviews, you’ll need to focus on this step as well.
Here’s how to get started:
Start here: You’ve identified the important review platforms where you need more reviews or an improvement in your star rating. (Remember that getting new positive reviews will also help improve your star rating.)
Next step: Write up an email and/or text message template that allows you to ask customers for reviews on the websites you’re focusing on for now.
Use what you already have: If you have a list of customer email addresses or phone numbers, use those to start asking for reviews. Depending on the size of your list, you should break this into small segments and ask each segment for reviews weekly or monthly.
Your ongoing reputation management plan: Begin or continue collecting customer email addresses or phone numbers so you can keep asking for and receiving new reviews! This probably sounds like a hassle and like you might annoy your customers, but as it turns out, 70 percent of people would leave a review if you just asked.
I know this all sounds like a lot, so if you don’t have the time to manage your online reviews, we have a platform called Renown that can do all this for you.
3. Take advantage of the power of review marketing.
Getting new reviews shouldn’t be the end. Make the most of your positive reviews by sharing them on your website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anywhere potential customers will see your business.
4. Monitor your online reputation.
Now that you’re working on your online reputation, you should also monitor what people are saying about you. Here are a few ways to do this:
Set up a Google Alert
Go to https://www.google.com/alerts to set up an alert for your business. Just type in your business name (add your location if necessary) and you’ll get an email when Google finds a mention of your business on the Internet.
Find Out When Someone Complains About Your Business
Use this complaint search to find out when someone complains about your business. You should probably check back weekly to make sure there are no new complaints.
Monitor Your Social Mentions
Pay attention to your social media profiles and reply to customer messages and comments quickly. You can also keep track of social mentions of your business using a tool like socialmention to find when and where your business was mentioned across social media.
5. Reply to your reviews.
Customers expect a response from your business within a week, so you need to reply to your business’s reviews. Make sure to reply to all your negative and neutral reviews as well as some of the positives.
Here’s how to get started:
How to Respond to Positive Reviews
Start by thanking the customer. Tell them you’re glad they had a great experience with your business.
Don’t make it all about you, but do use this as a chance to promote new specials or let them know if you have new products or services. “Did you know we just revamped our customer loyalty program? Come in and get your new loyalty card soon!”
Use keywords. This will make it more likely for the review to show up in search results. Insert relevant keywords and your business’s name. “Thanks for choosing Steve’s French Bistro! We’re glad to hear you enjoyed our croissants and rustic French décor.”
Don’t go crazy with your keywords, though. Mentioning your business name and industry once should be plenty, and stuffing too many keywords into your response will make it look like spam.
Get some extra marketing power out of this review by sharing it on your website and social media. (P.S. Renown, our review marketing platform can do this for you!)
How to Respond to Neutral Reviews
Start by thanking the customer for their review. Thanking someone for feedback, even neutral or negative feedback, is always a good place to start. Let them know you appreciate their comments and you use them as a chance to improve your business.
Repeat the positive aspects of the review. “Thanks so much for your feedback! We’re glad to hear you enjoyed your breakfast sandwich.”
Apologize for or explain any negatives. “Our prices are a little higher because we pay our servers a living wage so that they don’t have to depend on tips!”
Invite them back. “We hope to see you again.” Or take it offline. “If you’d like to discuss how we could’ve made your experience better, please call or email us. We look forward to hearing from you!”
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
Before you start replying to bad reviews of your business, you need to know why people leave negative reviews in the first place.
Let’s look at the facts.
A study found that these are the reasons that unhappy customers leave negative reviews:12
- They want you to say sorry
- They want to save other consumers from bad experiences
- They want you to be more honest (remember what we said about them craving transparency)
- They want financial reimbursement
- They want revenge and they know it will harm your online reputation
Now it’s time to reply to negative reviews. Follow these steps:
Calm down first. Never reply when you’re still angry, because you may say something you don’t really mean if you’re emotional when you reply. Walk away from the computer for a few minutes. Don’t wait too long, though; 52 percent of consumers expect a response within seven days.13
Remember why you’re replying. You want to win back the customer and show other consumers you care enough to make things right.
Apologize, even if it isn’t your fault. “I’m sorry you had a less than stellar experience.” Or, “Whoops, we’re sorry! Looks like you caught us on a bad day.”
Remind the reviewer (and anyone else who’s reading) that this experience is unusual. “We usually get food out to our tables within 30 minutes!” Or, “Our sales assistants usually receive compliments on their excellent customer service skills.”
Repeat the positives. Again, if there are any positive comments in the review, repeat those so that you can reinforce the idea that your business is usually on top of things.
Take it offline or offer to make it right. Ask the reviewer to email, call or visit your business so you can fix the problem. Offer a coupon or discount for their next purchase. Don’t try to bribe them for a better review but do genuinely try to make things right.
Finally, you’ll want to bury this negative review by getting new positive reviews.
Remember that you can’t please everyone. Some unhappy customers just won’t return to your business, but that’s okay. Focus on building better relationships with happy customers.