Reputation is everything in business. If people don’t trust you or if they think that there’s any amount of risk involved in purchasing from you, they’ll click away from your site in an instant. It’s not as if there isn’t a lack of competition just a single search away.
Reputation is important, but it can also be fickle. It’s only something that you can influence and not control outright, and it depends heavily on customer perception, and it can take shape outside of the copy and messaging you’re distributing on your own.
There are plenty of things that we can do, however, to both positively and negatively impact our businesses’ reputations online. In this post, we’re going to look specifically at four crucial mistakes you should avoid in order to best protect your reputation and keep customers walking away feeling good about their experience with you.
1. Ignoring Online Reviews
Online reviews are a powerful currency in reputation management. It only matters a little what you say about your business, after all, but it matters enormously what other people are saying about it. You are, of course, a tiny bit biased, and consumers know this.
Engaging with online reviews, however, is an important reputation management strategy. This is true for both good and bad reviews.
When it comes to good reviews, thank users enthusiastically for their time and their review, and let them know how much you appreciate it. This shows other users seeing the reviews that you’re intentional about maintaining customer experiences.
For negative reviews, respond genuinely but firmly if needed. Apologize for the poor experience, and then follow up with your own information. This is a mature version of sharing your side of the story.
If someone from the customer support team has already resolved the issue for the customer, you can say that, and you can mention if you have proof that the situation isn’t entirely how the customer claimed. That being said, offer to get in touch privately, asking them to send you a message so you can resolve it directly. This shows viewers that you’re dedicated to customer support and will do what you can to make your customers happy. It can also overcome some doubt that they may be having.
2. Deleting Negative Reviews
We’ve all felt that pit-in-the-stomach, sinking-heart feeling that comes when we see a negative review of our business pop up online, and it can be our first instinct to want to make sure no one else ever sees it. Press pause for a second, though, because you don’t want to delete every negative review that pops up.
First, it can cause an issue with transparency. People who have their reviews deleted may start to notice, and they’ll post about it elsewhere and really make sure people know what they have to say. If word gets out that you’re censoring reviews, you’ll be seen as inauthentic, if not downright fraudulent. You don’t want this.
There’s actually documented evidence that people actually like to see non-perfect reviews, because it’s seen as more trustworthy. 95% of customers will even suspect censorship or fake reviews if they don’t see anything negative. As long as you’re addressing negative reviews and you have mostly positive ones, this can actually work in your favor.
3. Not Prioritizing Consistency
Have you ever visited a brand’s Facebook page and noticed that it hadn’t been updated in four months? Or checked out a company blog, and realized that they only have three posts and all of them are more than a year old?
You’re likely using a number of different marketing channels to connect with– and build relationships with– your target audience. You need to make sure that you’re using them consistently, or it looks like your brand isn’t invested in these channels. Whether people assume that you don’t have the skills, the bandwidth, the knowledge, or the budget to keep these channels are going, it’s not great for you.
Caption: This status was from 2016, and it’s their most recent one as of 2019.
Try not to add on new marketing channels until you’re ready to maintain them consistently. You want people to know that you’re up and running and excited about what you’re doing, and consistency will be a big part of that.
4. Thinking No Reputation is a Positive One
Some brands straight up don’t invest in their reputation management, because they think it’s not important. We haven’t had a crisis, they think, so we’re good.
Unfortunately, no news isn’t necessarily good news. You do want to have a reputation– you just need to make sure it’s a good one.
Invest in reputation management.
Actively reach out to your customers or clients and ask for reviews, because if you don’t, the ones you’re most likely to get aren’t quite the ones you’ll want.
Engage with your customers authentically on visible platforms, responding to social media messages, public comments, and even blog post responses. Potential customers will take note of all of this, so it’s a worthwhile investment many times over.
Connect with other members in the industry or key influencers like journalists and bloggers who can start to spread the word of what you have to offer and their experience with you.
Developing a strong brand takes a lot of work, and the hard part doesn’t end once the site is up and you get your first reviews. Reputation management is an ongoing endeavor that should be carefully and consistently nurtured. Avoiding these 4 common traps is a good start, especially in conjunction with offense-driven strategies to ensure you’re putting positive forces out into the world, too.