The Ultimate Guide to Building Online Customer Relationships
“I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation / You’re living in the past, it’s a new generation” – Joan Jett

 

Ah, if we could all be as fearless and rebellious as the early 1980s Joan Jett! But unfortunately, we ARE living in a new generation – a generation where everyone is more connected than ever and opinions about a company’s product or service, positive or negative, can run rampant online.

Users are relying on online reviews now more than ever to make purchasing decisions. According to Hubspot.com, “Customer Reviews” placed in the top 10 factors in influencing a purchasing decision, which is why online reputation management is so important for businesses. Reputation management (sometimes referred to as rep management, online reputation management or ORM) is the practice of attempting to shape public perception of a person or organization by influencing online information about that entity.

So how does your company get started building (or repairing) your online reputation? We’ve got a few tips to guide you in the right direction!

“Customer Reviews” placed in the top 10 factors in influencing a purchasing decision (HubSpot)

Be proactive the first time around

The hands-down best way to avoid negative online reviews is to not give the reviewer any ammo to begin with. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs, states that news of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. Make sure your in-person and online customer service is up to snuff to avoid or quickly resolve any issues that might pop up on an online review down the road.

Claim your business

By claiming your business (for free) on sites like Yelp, Google, Foursquare and Apple Maps, you will be able to access and edit all of your company information that users see when they perform a search. Additionally, you will be far more searchable on location-based sites, rank higher on search engines, be able to respond to any negative reviews that might be posted and offer to resolve the issue or continue the conversation offline.

Keep your online ears open

You wouldn’t ignore a voicemail, email or phone call, right? Monitoring your company’s reviews online is no different! Check your company review sites and social media accounts daily and respond to any negative (or positive) review within 24 hours, just as you would reply to an email or return a phone call. Listen to the problem, offer a solution and fix the issue quickly.

Become a resource on social media

Building online relationships with social media followers can greatly boost your online reputation. Share content with your followers that will solve a problem or help educate them on a topic they may not know a lot about. By becoming a resource through your social media channels, rather than always pushing self-promotional news, and you will build credibility and trust with your customers in no time.

Ask for feedback

Want to know what customers really think about your product or service? All you have to do is ask! Send out a short email survey asking your customers what they love about your business, what they don’t love and what they feel could be improved. This feedback method can provide a wealth of information you would have never uncovered otherwise. Plus, in general, people are happy to offer their opinion. If you’re wanting to boost your response rate, offer a little perk in return for their honest opinion.

Checklists to get you started

Here are daily, weekly and monthly checklists to point you in the right direction:

Daily:

  • Check social media accounts for comments and messages and respond accordingly
  • Check review sites (such as Yelp and Google) for new reviews and respond accordingly

Weekly:

  • Share helpful and relevant industry content online via your social media networks
  • Check in with your on-site team to get feedback on customer complaints, concerns or praise

Monthly/Quarterly:

  • Reach out to a few of your best customers and simply thank them for their business. Also ask their opinions on how your business can improve or what aspect they love the most.
  • Distribute brief surveys to your customer database to keep the pulse on what’s working and what’s not in your business

When you follow these simple steps to boost your online reputation, you’ll not only gain the trust of your audience, you’re also potentially building relationships for life. Of course, if you need a little help getting started, just let us know and we’ll get our digital team to help you out. Then, in the words of our sassy friend Joan Jett, you’ll be singing:

“An’ I only feel good when I got no pain / An’ that’s how I’m gonna stay”