Take Control of Your Online Reputation

Posted on March 19, 2013 by

Last week I wrote about the importance of online customer reviews. Research shows that bettering your rating on sites such as Yelp.com can help drive revenue. So now that we know they’re important, what do we do about it?

Get Engaged
Well first off, you should be consistently monitoring online customer reviews on sites such as Yelp.com, Limos.com, Google Places, Yellowpages.com, Weddingwire.com, Citysearch.com, and Tripadvisor.com. Reviews found on these sites offer insight to how your business is perceived by customers and might reveal problems with customer service that you’re unaware of. Although a single review may be unfairly negative, a pattern among many reviews should raise some red flags.
 
Before you can respond to online reviews, you will typically have to “claim” ownership of your business’ listing on each respective site. This requires a verification process but is worth it because it allows you to update details about your business and respond to reviews as the owner. This article by Reputation.com has some good instructions on managing the process.

Don’t Get Angry
The business model for sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are built on the premise that overall, they provide reviews that people find useful. While these sites may not respond to your beck and call to remove an inaccurate review, they do offer tools that many businesses find effective for managing their online reputation.

Remember, a bad review is not the end of the world. Consumers tend to be quite forgiving of occasional lapses in service. However, how you respond to that negative review can often have a far greater effect. Here’s some great advice from that same Reputation.com article:

"Although you may run a good business, you can’t always be perfect, so your business is bound to make a few mistakes here and there. Given that people are likely to make more noise about a slip up versus a great experience, it's important to apologize publicly to a negative comment and then reach out to the customer privately to resolve the situation."

Potential clients that see the care and attentiveness you put into handling a complaint will likely be impressed by your professionalism. Not convinced? One limo operator relayed to LCT a telling experience he had with a bad review. This operator was tipped off by a friend that someone had left a very poor review on Yelp, prompting him to contact the customer directly and address the matter within 24 hours. As a result, the customer followed up his one-star review with a five star review.

By being aware of the review, this operator was able to be proactive in managing his online reputation and minimize the damage done by a disgruntled customer.

—    Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor

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