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You likely know the saying, “Failing to plan means planning to fail.” I believe all leaders know this —whether they learned it the easy or hard way — when it comes to their companies, so they map out a career and business plan. But as a consultant, investor and entrepreneur, I’ve seen that despite the importance of online reputations today, not all brands have an actionable plan when it comes to online reviews.
According to a 2018 study of travel businesses, 97% of respondents felt online reputation management was important. A separate study found that more than 90% of 18- to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much a personal recommendation.
I believe one of the biggest problems today is that businesses aren’t asking for reviews often enough or effectively. In my experience, the best reviews are those you solicit from clients. But because not every review is guaranteed to be a good one, it’s important to understand what goes into creating your company’s reputation (and what you can do to ensure it’s positive).
Factors Affecting Your Company’s Reputation
More than just your company’s image plays a role in public perception. A CEO’s reputation, for example, accounts for nearly half of a company’s market value. I believe this shows that not only the business itself needs to manage its online reputation but also those who comprise the company. As a leader, consider making your own online reputations a high priority. This has the potential to translate into positive trends the business is trying to focus on.
Throughout my own professional experience, I’ve seen a few other factors (in addition to a CEO’s reputation) that can also influence the perception of a company, including:
• How exiting employees talk about their experience
• Sustainability and eco-friendliness of the company
• Online visibility and ability to stay top of mind
• Protection or abuse of customers’ privacy and data
Consider these factors as you analyze your company’s online presence. If you find your business needs to build its reputation online (or remedy a negative review), there are a few ways to get started.
How To Build A Positive Presence
1. Follow up with a phone call to connect with clients and past customers. By reaching out, you can be more in tune with how your clients feel while showing them they are valued customers. Always display proper phone etiquette, and if you are concerned about time, try using an automated voice broadcast service or sending a survey in a text message.
2. Respond to online reviews. I believe that what others say about you online isn’t as important as your replies. Potential clients want to see that you are attentive and prioritize handling any issues. Have a system for following up and commenting on each review. Use software and online alerts to get notified of new mentions every week. And if you’re able, consider having a designated team member respond to reviews with the goal of making every customer happy.
3. Reach out to those who left negative reviews. In this case, don’t only respond online. Pick up the phone, and directly contact the customers who had a poor experience with your company so you can find out what you need to do to fix the relationship. If you don’t resolve the issue, more negative reviews could build up. Make appropriate changes to your team and systems to avoid a repeat of that negative experience.
4. Set a frequent publishing calendar. Be proactive, and publish positive content that is rich in keywords and optimized for online searches. Every month, aim to share positive videos and articles that offer information about your brand on social media, a personal blog, company blog and press releases. To know where to set your publishing goal, take a look at your competitors. If a competing business is posting press releases twice a month, aim for your company to share twice as much. But most importantly: Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.
I believe consumers today don’t know who to trust until they consider reviews. By developing an effective online reputation and review plan, I believe everything else can come together, including your marketing, branding, customer acquisition, retention and referrals. The big question is, are you focusing enough attention, time and investment on this pivotal factor that has the potential to impact everything else you want to achieve?
March 13, 2019 at 08:53AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs