According to Igniyte, 86% of people will read online reviews of your business before buying from you. That figure rises to 95% for consumers aged 18-34. What’s more, over half of consumers insist on using companies with 4 stars or better. What this means is that your online reputation has a massive impact on your sales and the future success of your business. It is, indeed, one of your major assets and something you should strive to protect. Here, we’ll look at the issues that can damage your reputation and what you can do to protect it.
Poor online reviews
It’s never been easier for consumers to find and leave reviews of the companies they use. In fact, it’s pretty hard for people searching for your company not to find them. If they use Google to search for you, Google will also display any reviews it has received for you. Then there are sites like Trustpilot, Feefo, Reviews.co.uk and a multitude of others. The information provided on these sites includes an overall star rating as well as comments by your customers about your company and the products and services they received.
This is great news for businesses that are getting positive reviews but can be catastrophic when what users say is negative. Indeed, some comments can be downright scathing. For those with a string of poor reviews, it’s likely to drive new customers away.
How to deal with bad reviews
When it comes to bad reviews, the first thing to realise is that the odd negative review won’t do your reputation much harm. In fact, it can do the contrary. If you have nothing but glowing 5-star reviews, it can look a bit suspicious and make customers think they have been paid for rather than being genuine. If your overall rating is between 4 and 5 stars, you’ve no need to worry.
If your reviews are predominantly negative, then you need to take action. The first and, ultimately, the most important step is to address the issues that are making customers give poor reviews. If they complain that deliveries are late, the service lacking or the products poor quality, then these matters need putting right. If they aren’t, the poor reviews are just going to keep on coming. So, dig deeper than the star rating, read the comments and prioritise the improvements that need to be made.
With regard to the existing bad reviews, while you can ask the review site to remove them, this will only happen if a review is proven to be fake or if the user breaks the rules set by the site. In the majority of cases, regardless of how scathing the comments are, this is unlikely to happen.
The only other way to remove them is to resolve the issue that the customer complained about. Reaching out can lead them to change their review. What’s more, any replies you make on the site are published and this can show other customers that you are making an effort to put things right.
Key to success here is the need to act swiftly. Some customers only give poor reviews because they feel it will jolt the company into solving an ongoing issue. The quicker you act, the more likely that they will improve the rating – provided, of course, that they end up a happier customer.
Importantly, the manner in which you communicate with them is also important. As other consumers may be able to read your responses to a review, what you say and how you say it will also affect your reputation. So, be apologetic and sincere and make sure you keep to any arrangements you make.
Dealing with corporate hate websites
Although rare, very unhappy customers or those who oppose a company’s actions can go to extreme lengths to affect its reputation. This can include creating a website aimed at putting potential customers off a business. If such a website appears in search engine results, those consumers will be able to read what that person has to say.
If you discover a hate site, then, as with a negative review, you should try to resolve the issue that the site’s creator has with your company. This, however, isn’t always possible. You might be able to sort out a problem with a disgruntled customer, but if it’s someone protesting about the actions of your business, it could be more difficult to get the site taken offline. Reaching out and negotiating might help, but if not, you may have to seek legal advice. However, unless the site is breaking the law, there is little you can do to get it removed.
What you can do is use PR to get other sites to write positive things about you. This, potentially, can push the hate site down the search engine rankings where it can do less harm.
Handling negative social media
The first thing to remember about social media is that, sadly, it’s a breeding ground for internet trolls. If your company is in the public eye, someone is likely to say something negative about it. In most cases, you can forget about it as it will quickly disappear into the bottomless chasm of old posts.
The problems you should be concerned about are when a negative post goes viral or when you get a constant stream of negative comments. The other problem is that you won’t always know if these things are happening. To monitor what people say about your company, you can use services such as Mention or Social Mention that will notify you when your business has been discussed.
If you are getting comments that are harmful to your online reputation, it is important to act quickly. Some companies deal with this by having their customer service team take care of social media customer complaints. This can take the complaints to private messaging and away from the public site.
If the comments are about the actions of your company, perhaps someone accusing it of acting in an unethical way, then a carefully worded response needs to be given. The tone of the response also needs to be considered. The aim is to dampen fires rather than stoke them.
The reputational damage caused by poor customer reviews, hate websites and negative social comments can have a substantial impact on your business. Monitoring the internet to find these and responding quickly and appropriately is the key to resolving customer problems. This will show other consumers and interested viewers that you put the customer first.
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