To cultivate a healthy online reputation, companies need to constantly demonstrate why people should come to them as industry leaders and trustworthy partners. With a focus on trust, integrity, and consistency, companies can create customer interactions online and in person that enhance their digital reputations.
The web has made it possible for everyone from prospective customers to business partners to potential employees to see at the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen what companies have to offer. If upon first glance they see unhappy customers or poor reviews, there’s a very real potential of permanent damage to a business’s bottom line.
Companies’ online reputations reflect how the businesses conduct themselves and how they operate on a daily basis. Increasingly, customers are turning to the information they find online when deciding whether to engage with a brand.
To cultivate a healthy online presence, companies need to constantly demonstrate why people should come to them as industry leaders and trustworthy partners — both in daily customer service interactions and in their online presences.
Optimize Your Online Reputation for the Long Run
With a focus on trust, integrity, and consistency, companies can create customer interactions online and in person that enhance their digital reputations. Follow these five strategies to strengthen your company’s online reputation and to get the most out of your digital presence.
1. Perform a self-audit to see where you stand.
Do some research: What are people saying about you on Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn? How about Yelp or Google reviews? Once you’ve learned how people view your brand, check out your competitors. How does your company compare?
From there, set up goals to boost your digital brand. Try to make these timely and specific: Focus on two or three for the next quarter, for example. Perhaps you want to get a dozen more Yelp reviews in the next two months, or maybe you realize your blog hasn’t been updated in a year. Use your self-audit to set achievable, detailed goals.
You’ll want to schedule these self-audit check-ins throughout the year. Pay special attention to community-contributed sites such as Yelp or Google reviews; search engines often weigh those more heavily in results, making these more valuable to your online reputation.
2. Regularly interact with customers online.
A successful, positive influence requires an online content strategy with an emphasis on interacting with customers.
Show off the company’s personality and expertise by regularly publishing shareable, relevant content such as blog posts, social media posts, cases studies, testimonials, press mentions, or other materials.
Then, interact with customers who like, comment, or otherwise engage with your content in order to create the kinds of positive interactions that win over customers and enhance customer loyalty.
3. Open the door for customers to complain directly to you — then fix the problems.
Maintaining a good reputation online requires a proactive approach, not a reactive one. If you find yourself mostly hearing from customers only after they’ve complained publicly (on social media or Yelp, for example), you aren’t doing any favors for your online reputation.
Make sure there’s an easy system on your website for customers to provide feedback (and hear back from) you in a timely fashion. Peter van Uden, owner of Quexcel Software Asset Management and Marketing Services, summed it up nicely when he said, “People are looking for reassurance that this issue [they] experienced has been corrected, that someone is listening, responding, and takes proper action.”
If you catch a dissatisfied customer early enough, you might be able to turn a potential public complaint into a glowing review about how your company went above and beyond to make things right. These feedback experiences can become valuable case studies and even satisfied customer endorsements.
4. Develop thought leadership in your field.
Speaking engagements, panel opportunities, networking events, awards, and collaborations are excellent ways to build a reputation for your company.
With these opportunities usually come online chatter and recognition that will make a stronger case for why customers should trust your expertise.
Get your brand out there as an industry leader, and your digital reputation will reap the rewards.
5. Make customer satisfaction a priority.
Every potential customer interaction can become fodder for online conversation, so make sure customer service isn’t relegated to only your customer service department.
To make the most of your online presence, make consistently pleasant customer experiences your goal. A good strategy is to assume that every customer you interact with in-person will leave online reviews — so ensure that they’re positive.
In today’s world, your online reputation is your reputation. It takes only a handful of bad customer experiences to change the conversation surrounding your company completely.
That’s why strengthening your online reputation has to include more than an SEO strategy and a social-media manager — it has to be an effort from everyone in the company and an authentic belief in a stellar consumer experience.