RenegadeWorks Named 2016 Rising Star by FinancesOnline

Eric Welke RenegadeWorks Leave a Comment

Its always fun receiving a bit of recognition after a lot of hard work. As a team, we’re celebrating that today at RenegadeWorks.  Our software was recently reviewed by the 3rd party app review site FinanacesOnline.com.

They gave us an 8.0 out of 10.0 and awarded us certificates for a Great User Experience and being a 2016 Rising Star in FinancesOnline customer support software category. We approached FinancesOnline about a month ago and requested an unbiased review without compensation.

As you may know, we’re all about feedback and this was a great way to get some. None of our staff had a previous relationship with FinancesOnline.  It was a good chance for us to get an expert opinion from a neutral source.

Their staff was very professional.  They signed up for the software while most of us were away on Christmas vacation, without letting us know when/if they were going to.  This allowed them to experience the product without any special treatment. Early today we received an email that the review had been posted.  It was an honor to see the results when we checked it out. The review turned out to be very comprehensive.  They included sections on:

  • What RenegadeWorks is
  • Benefits to users
  • Specific features
  • The problems RenegadeWorks solves
  • Pricing
  • Integrations
  • User satisfaction
  • Technical details
  • Support offered
  • Several comparisons to other apps

They also accept user reviews – so if you are a RenegadeWorks user you can rate us there. Now we’re getting back to work and focused on getting that 8.0 pushed up as high as possible 🙂

Thank you to the reviewers and the staff at FinancesOnline. We really appreciate the time you invested in the review! PS – If you’re a RenegadeWorks user or just interested in what we’re doing in general, please feel free to contact us at anytime.  We love hearing your ideas, comments, questions and feedback (good or bad).  Its what gives us the information we need to continue improving!

WordPress Plugin: Feedback Tab / Review Us Button

Eric Welke How to & Tutorials, Online Reviews, Reputation Management, Tools, WordPress 3 Comments

RenegadeWorks has released a new WordPress plugin.  This plugin adds a floating feedback tab / clickable review us button to the side of your website. The tab / button stays in the same position as your visitors scroll down the page, but is not intrusive. It can be linked to:

  • Your RenegadeWorks location page
  • A feedback form
  • A review site profile
  • Anywhere else you wish

The plugin is developed to have a great user experience:

  • No Javascript is used to generate the floating widget, only HTML and CSS
  • The feedback tab button has a hover effect when the cursor is dragged over it to encourage interaction
  • When the widget button is clicked a new browser tab will open to the page you specify. This means the visitor stays on your site in the original tab so you don’t lose any traffic.

Plugin Options

The plugin is designed to be customizable to your website, but takes less than 1 minute to setup. Once you have added your Landing Page URL, the plugin will begin working. You can customize the plugin by choosing from the following options on the settings page:

  • Where you want the floating tab / button widget to appear. Choose Left or Right.
  • What text you want to use. Choose from: Feedback, Rate Us or Review Us.
  • Which color theme you want to use. Choose from 7 options.

Plugin Notes

A RenegadeWorks account is not required is use this plugin.

Download & Setup

Download the plugin from the WordPress repository below, then upload the zip file to your WordPress website and activate it.

Download from WordPress.org

How to Install the Plugin

How to Install the RenegadeWorks WordPress Plugin

How to Setup the Plugin

How to Setup the RenegadeWorks WordPress Plugin

Screenshots

Review Us widget button with orange theme on the left side
Feedback tab button with red theme on the right side
Feedback tab button with dark theme on the right side
Feedback widget button with light theme on the right side
Rate Us widget button with blue theme on the left side
Default settings for feedback / review us tab
Location options for feedback / review us button
Text options for feedback / review us widget button
Theme color options for feedback / review us tab button

Free Download

Download the plugin from the WordPress repository below, then upload the zip file to your WordPress website and activate it.

Download from WordPress.org

How to Respond to Negative Reviews & Feedback

Eric Welke Best Practices, Guides, How to & Tutorials, Online Reviews, Small Business 2 Comments

Receiving a negative review online can be humbling for your business and even you. Negative reviews can come in all shapes and sizes…from constructive criticism to an angry customer who doesn’t necessarily seem angry with you but rather they seem upset with life and are taking it out on you.

Unfortunately, this is all apart of life and owning a small business. Don’t brush off the reviews and hope there will be no impact based upon one person’s opinion; instead, respond to each review written about your business.

Don’t just respond to the negative, but the positive reviews as well. A simple ‘Thank you’ or ‘We are thrilled you are enjoying our services’ can make the reviewer and other readers’ respect that you are concerned with customer satisfaction and not just focused on challenging the negative aspects of your reputation.

While it is important to respond to the positive reviews, it is perhaps more important to respond thoughtfully and empathetically to the negative comments left on review sites. Responding to the negative reviews can change the reviewer’s mind about your business and even impress potential customers.  The one caveat is that you should reply promptly.  Waiting weeks or months to reply mean you’ve missed your chances.  It a good idea to regularly track and monitor reviews so you don’t miss any.

Just by responding properly, your business can grow and you can turn the negative into positive. Do remember we live in a world where it is difficult to please 100% of the population; however, it is important to still aim high and try to please 99.9% of the population.

It is very important for you to respond professionally and sympathetic towards those reviewers who are unhappy with your business. First of all, by responding you are showing you acknowledge their feelings and troubled experience.

You are also showing potential and current customers you will go out of your way to recognize a concern or complaint. This generally earns your business brownie points. There are some tips you will want to follow when responding to a negative review:

newspaper

The customer is always right

Even when the customer is wrong, he or she is right. Those reading online reviews are looking for what other customers have experienced with your business. They will believe the customer is generally right and their experience reflects on you. Because of this, you must take a cautious approach in responding to reviews. Start with a simple apology and acknowledgment something went wrong on your end…even if it didn’t.  There are industry specifics that may require slight variations on the strategy below.  For example if you are selling cars, you will respond differently that if you are a dentist.

Understand they commented for a reason

In general, customers are not going to go out of their way to make negative comments about your business on a website. Most likely, they have a legitimate reason to be upset or post what they said. Don’t be afraid to realize you or your business probably messed up.

They posted because the public looks at reviews to see what kind of experience others had at your business and if it’s worth their time in pursuing you. Remember, once a comment is made about your business it’s what you do next that will matter most.  This is very important to managing your small business reputation.

Always stay upbeat and optimistic

You want to show customers you are a serious business and are prepared to hear criticism. In your response, be constructive and show you are willing to listen. Always apologize, even if you believe the customer’s experience was not necessarily your business’s fault.

You can simply begin with “we are truly sorry you had a poor experience…” By acknowledging and apologizing for the issue, you have to humble yourself and understand that people are not necessarily looking for perfection.

Rather, they are often times interested in a genuine response and transparency in your business. If this is seen, trust can be built with both the reviewer and the general public reading the reviews and your response.

Do not get defensive

Do not go on the defense, as this will just turn people away from your business. If you feel you may not have the best attitude towards a comment made about your business, take your time in responding and allow time for you to cool down. [But do not take too much time!] No one reading the reviews and comments wants to see a business going on the defense as this just tells the people you are not a friendly place to spend their money. Be sure to be calm and understanding in your response.

Correct facts, not opinions

If a reviewer has given incorrect facts about anything pertaining to your business, gently correct them; however, do not correct opinions. By correcting opinions, you are telling the public their opinions don’t matter to you and you believe they are wrong in their thinking. This will never go over well and you could easily lose business. By focusing on the facts, the reviewer and the readers can learn more about your business and what you stand for.

Be cool and collected

Never reply when a comment makes you feel heated, walk away and find your cool, then reply. The last thing you want your business to represent is your anger or frustration. In the long run, you will regret this kind of response on your end even if it makes you feel better in the moment. Others are watching your response so keep your professionalism with a touch of compassion.

It is understandable that you will feel upset or disgraced by a comment, especially when you poor your life into your business; however, it’s your reaction that is judged. By waiting to respond to a comment that gets you heated, you will have to calm down, think it through and figure out a proper way to respond.

You can thank them for their thoughts, address the issue and your side to the story and of course, add the human touch. People reading reviews don’t expect all satisfied comments, they expect the negative ones too and will be watching your reply. Be impressive and show the public you are worthy of their business.

Turn it around

Someone took the time to review your business, even if it wasn’t in your favor. By responding, you have the ability to turn the review around and highlight your strengths. By bringing attention to your strengths, you are virtually reminding the readers there is much more to your business than one negative comment.

You can also use this opportunity to share your story, like “I’m sorry you had this experience. We have served thousands of customers over the last 10 years and strive to create the best atmosphere for you to feel…”

Own the issue

Because the customer is always right, always let them know you have empathy towards them. Don’t be afraid to say a mistake was made or protocol failed on your end. By stepping up and owning the issue, customers will appreciate this humility and second chances will likely be given.

Do not get personal

Never attack the person or make it seem it is their fault (even if it is). By attacking the person, you are simply pushing away any chance you had at redeeming your company to them and to the readers.

Attacking is behavior for the immature, not a sophisticated business owner. It also shows the people you are not a business for the people; rather, it shows you are not ready to be an owner of a business and their business should go somewhere where respect and professionalism is sought.

If you are attacked in a comment, it may be difficult to not attack the person in return. However, you need to be the bigger person and try your best to not take it personally. Also do not say it is their fault they had a poor experience, stick to an apology and nothing more if you have nothing else to say.

Short and sweet may be your best response

In cases where you have nothing to say or believe a response is not necessary, the best reaction on your end is to simply apologize for their poor experience and wish them a better experience next time. If you feel no response is necessary at all, than don’t respond at all. However, this is not usually recommended as silence speaks louder than words and it does not help improve your online reputation.

desk

Include a specific detail about the review in your response

While a simple apology may be the best response for some situations, it is better to touch on one or more specific details about the user’s review. By doing this, you are acknowledging you have read the comment in detail and take their comments seriously. When a customer feels heard, they are quicker to find satisfaction in your response and more willing to give your business another try.

Change your business for the better

Because criticism coming from customers can actually make you a better business, it is important to listen to the comments and understand where they are coming from. Perhaps they are pointing out problems you may not see.

It is sometimes easier to see issues from the outside instead of from your view, engulfed everyday in the business. Don’t just agree and understand there are things that could change to make your business better, rather take action and don’t be afraid to make the transformations to being a better business.

These changes could be small or large. In fact, it may be in your best interest to have some negative reviews as they can challenge you and make you better in the long run. When you hear what the people want and address it, you are making a giant statement that you are a friendly and community oriented business. With this kind of effort and image, more customers will be willing to walk in your doors.

Share what has been done to avoid future issues

Once you have formatted a plan and are attacking the issue, comment on the review and share that you heard the complaint, agree something needed to be done, and share how you are making changes to avoid future problems.

Once the customer or potential customer reads your comment on the change that took place or is in the process of changing, they will be impressed you listened and they may want to visit you again to see if their experience is better.

Offer to make it right

Find unique and clever ways to make the customer happy. You want to make the situation right. An example: perhaps they didn’t get the sales price, offer for them to come in with the receipt and you will be happy to give them the sales price. They will be more than pleased and want to support you later on.

When you are making the situation right, avoid offering gifts, freebies, discounts or anything that could be seen as bribery. If others see this, it can set precedence for handouts. If a satisfied customer sees someone is getting a handout for complaining, they will most likely find something to complain about as well in hopes of a freebie.

Let them know you are available

Tell the reviewer you would love to communicate directly with them. At the end of your response, leave the best way to contact you. With this personal touch, you are showing the public you care about each customer and their concerns and are willing to go out of your way to please them. You are also opening the door to further dialogue about your business with them.

If they choose to reach out to you, be sure to be grateful they care enough about your business to continue the conversation. With this kind of discussion, you may be able to better understand what the customers are looking for and even build a relationship with another consumer and turn the unhappy into the happy.

Ask customers to edit/update their review

If you are working to resolve an issue or did resolve the problem and the customer is now satisfied, don’t be afraid to ask them to either update or edit their review. With others reading their comments, it is only fair for them to show you are a business willing to work with and for the customer.

Once others see this, they will be more inclined to bring more business in your door. It is important to show you are not afraid to change for the customers’ satisfaction. Be sure to not force them to edit/update their review, simply ask and let it go. Use common sense when addressing them for their edit or update.

Best Practices for Small Businesses to Get Better Online Reviews

Eric Welke Best Practices, Online Reviews, Small Business Leave a Comment

A potential customer is looking for a place to purchase lumber and a hungry family is looking for a new restaurant to try, and they are all looking at online reviews. When opening an online site or app that lists all local businesses, customers want to find a place with mostly positive reviews and a decent number of ratings.

Clients and customers want confidence in your business when they first walk through your doors and online reviews help boost that confidence. Whatever your small business, you want to keep focus on ensuring your customers are happy and therefore, more willing to leave you positive reviews online.

It is well known that these reviews are read by the public and can bring you more business. Unfortunately, it is a bad experience that often prompts a consumer to actually leave a review. Hopefully, it is a fluke for someone to have a poor experience when they walk in your doors.

Because these reviews can bring down what should be a stellar online reputation, placing a focus on getting and keeping positive online reviews should be your next (and continuous) goal. When it comes to getting and keeping more business in your doors, you need to remember the power of the Internet. With the Internet at everyone’s fingertips 24/7 these days, anything can be said and anyone reading it can believe it.

Understanding the importance of getting better online reviews is vital for you to succeed in this area. The general public want to spend their money wisely so they often to turn to review sites for assistance and suggestions from strangers for the best place to go with their cash.

If you aren’t yet convinced of the importance of online reviews, take a look at the numbers:

In a recent survey, two-thirds of consumers reported reading online reviews. And 88% of the consumers reported they not only take the reviews seriously, but also will listen to them and make their decision on your business based upon what others say and how they rate you online.

In a Harvard study, they found that a one star improvement on Yelp increased business 5-9% for restaurants. Cornell University even discovered that with each point increase in hotel reviews, these hotels were able to increase prices up to 11.2% and keep a happy cliental.

Review sites and mobile apps are syncing

When customers are looking for a place to spend their money, you obviously want their business, which means you need to be mindful of your online reviews. When searching for a particular local service on Google, reviews on maps will show up first in a search, generally followed by review sites like Yelp or Citysearch all before an actual website for a competitors or your business.

The majority of people will not scroll down too far to look for a website, but rather begin their search right there with the maps and reviews. Review sites to mobile map apps are also becoming syndicated. Yelp is one of the most popular review websites and attracts millions of visitors a year.

Apple maps, the iPhone integrated GPS system, has joined forces with Yelp to pull up their reviews when an Apple map user is searching for a particular business category in their area. With the merging of websites and Apps, the effect of online reviews is multiplied.

table-meetings

Improving your online review standing

To help boost your online reviews, there are several practices in which you can and should partake.

Never pay

First of all, never pay for fake reviews! There are several reasons for this. First, it is unethical and illegal. Imagine what would happen to your reputation and numbers if your reviews were found to be a fraud?

With all the new investigations and crackdowns, it is simply not worth the risk. There have been lawsuits with Yelp and the NY attorney general against businesses and fake reviews, forcing many to pay thousands of dollars.

Good businesses understand that real reviews by actual customers are the ones that count. Without these reviews, businesses cannot identify places of success and places that could use some work to make themselves a better business and bring in a happier cliental basis.  All types of businesses have gotten caught doing this.  Whether you are a dentist, restaurant, or any other type of business, there are always better options.

Along with paying for fake reviews, never use incentives or anything that could be seen as a bribe for reviews. The reasons for this are similar to the ones above. While actual cash may not flow from hand to pocket, the cash value does. If you offer coupons, free products or services, or discounts, you are simply bribing for a review and you are breaking the FTC’s and Google’s legal policies.

Don’t be afraid to ask

While you should never pay or use incentives for reviews, it is still ok to ask your customers for reviews. Businesses with repeat customers and businesses that have been in existence for several years are doing something right. Let the world know this by asking for reviews from your customers. New businesses will want to grow in the media world as well.

When you ask for a review, many people will understand the importance of you growing your online reputation. A simple way for customers to review your site is for you to have a link on your online social media sites and actual website to the site you wish to be reviewed on. Please remember to ask kindly and to not be pushy.

Gaining feedback through the Net Promoters Score will help you better assess your customers. By simply asking your customers how likely they are to recommend your business to others on a scale from 1-10, you can better understand how others view your business and divide your customers into 3 categories.

  • The Promoters: These customers score a 9-10. They are the most loyal to your business, will be repeat customers, and refer others to you.
  • The Passives: These customers score a 7-8. They are satisfied with their experience with your business, but they do not have the enthusiasm of the promoters and are vulnerable by competitor’s offering.
  • The Detractors: These customers score a 0-6. They are not satisfied with your business and they can hurt your brand, reputation, and obstruct growth through negative word-of-mouth advertising.

The detractors can damage your image the most, so reaching out to them may help you in the long run. If you come across a customer who is unsatisfied, talk to them. Find out what the issue(s) was and how they would like to see it resolved.

Apologize and get as much information from them as you can. Remember, the customer is always right. Accommodate to them how you see fit. Customers will remember when they were not happy but the business owner wanted to resolve the issue as best as he or she could. Totally resolving the issue may not be possible in all cases, but you won’t know until you try.

If you can turn an unpleased customer into a promoter, you will hopefully bring in more business. Not all detractors can or are willing to turn into a passive or promoter type customer. Because of this, you should focus on promoter customers. The more promoter customers you bring through the door, the better business will be for you.

They can be used as a grassroots marketing strategy as they spread the word of your business and recommend it to others in the community. Remember to encourage them to leave a review on a review site. Because passive customers can easily walk out your door and into a competitor’s, make a strategy for turning them into promoters.

Turning passives into promoters is the most challenging area. They are not passionate about your business whereas the detractors and the promoters already have some kind of passion towards you. It is very possible to turn negative passion into positive passion and skipping the passive stage all together.

There may not be many things you can do to turn passives into promoters, but there is a technique you can try. Talk to them. Find out what they are looking for in your business and ask if there are any improvements they would like to see. They may just have a great idea to turn other passive customers into promoters as well.

Make your business known

Make your business known online. Some customers may not realize you have a website, Facebook page, or twitter account. If you have a building or space customers may come into, put up a simple sign that says ‘Like us on Facebook’ or ‘check out our Twitter account’.

When people look at these sites, be sure to have a link for them to click on to allow them to easily review your business.

Focus on your review sites

One practice to follow in getting better reviews online is to limit your review sites. Don’t spread reviews across too many sites at once.

You need to build a foundation on the most important 2-3 review sites for your business industry. Wait until this foundation is solid before focusing on another batch of review sites. It will become too challenging trying to do all the sites at once, but by focusing on 2-3, you can build trust with your current cliental and potential customers.

If you are unsure which sites to start with, consider Yelp, Google, Facebook, or Twitter as these are the most popular review sites by the average consumer. Set up a business account on the site so you can access your page and edit the information (hours, location, logo, etc.). This will also help you comment on reviews customers leave. Remember the more review sites you are on, the more you have to manage.

When a review is left on a review site, pay attention to it. This includes the reviews that may already be there. When a review is negative, comment on it or reach out to the customer. Do what you can to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Those reading the reviews will see you commented on it and realize you care about your customers and desire to have strong customer service.

library

The posting customer may even change their mind about your business and leave a more positive review. When you know what people are saying about your business, you have a better idea of what you did right and what needs improvement.

Take these seriously and be open to change to keep the customer happy. Remember, it is a numbers game in a sense. As you receive reviews, you gain popularity. However, with the more reviews you get, the higher the chance the reviews won’t all be positive. It is nearly impossible to please everyone.

Don’t let this scare you away from focusing on the importance of reviews as the more reviews you get in, the more positive ones you will get too. If you get 8 positive reviews and 2 negative, that is better than 1 positive as the majority show you are a great business. Just remember the more reviews you have, the more people will pay attention to your business.

Some final tips to make note of

  • Reviews do not usually go live right away. If a customer tells you they wrote a review and you want to read it, don’t be surprised you can’t see it immediately.
  • There are some review sites, especially Yelp, that heavily filter reviews. They do this to try and ensure the reviews are not fake. Even a legitimate review left for your business, may be filtered out and not show up. This is one of the major reasons getting reviews is a number games. You want to get as many as possible to make up for those that are filtered out.
  • Don’t expect instant results when building better online reviews. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Take the feedback seriously, don’t just ignore the bad, but take note of both the good and bad to better know how to improve your business and know where to keep shining.

Reputation Management for Small Businesses

Eric Welke Reputation Management, Small Business Leave a Comment

Small businesses often face a huge variety of problems when it comes to both advertising and online reputation management. The main cause for bankruptcy is a poor business plan, as opposed to economical and outside factors.

You will also find that many business owners under price their products in an attempt to get sales, and this can often lead to price surges and unhappy customers. With 9 out of 10 small businesses failing within the first two years, reputation management is crucial if you want to stay on top of your competition.

How Reputation Management Can Help Install Success in Small Businesses

So how can reputation management help small businesses succeed? Reputation management allows you to charge a higher rate for your products or services by installing confidence in your users. Customers often lack confidence when shopping with a new provider and prices remain to be a fundamental part of the thought process.

With small businesses also plagued with rising energy costs, liabilities and taxes, undercutting the initial price may seem like the ideal solution to get customers through the door. With reputation management however, customers already have confidence in your products and services, meaning that they will be much more likely to purchase your products or your services without the need for low or discount prices.

Reputation management can include anything from feedback control, customer retention and so much more. By encouraging the customers to refer friends, as well as giving them a positive shopping experience themselves, you can charge prices that keep your business afloat and competitive in the existing economy while also increasing your chances of them coming back.

As you can see, reputation management certainly plays a vital role in terms of small business operation, and it continues to fuel the success of many businesses across the world.

Best Business and Company Online Review Sites – A Cheat Sheet by Industry

Eric Welke Cheat Sheets, Online Reviews 2 Comments

Online review websites are gaining more and more traffic as customers and travelers seek the best businesses for their money and families to go. As the Internet world of reviews becomes more and more common, more review sites are popping up and it can seem overwhelming for the average customer and even small business owner to know which sites are best to focus on.

As a rule of thumb, it is best to stick to the bigger, more known sites. There are two types of review sites:

First, there are the general websites that offer a place for reviews of all kinds of businesses and even medical professionals. And second, there are designated reviews sites for specifically focused industries.

There are probably several review websites you have already heard of and even used; however, there are some you may have forgotten or did not know existed. RenegadeWorks has compiled a list of reviews websites that receive higher numbers of traffic.

GENERAL

Better Business Bureau The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reviews all sorts of businesses. They base their evaluations on how businesses should treat the consumer; they do not endorse any businesses or products. Their goal is to provide communities with the best information they can about a business and will evaluate accredited and non-accredited businesses. They rate their listings with the A-F rating system.

bbb.org

CitySearch

CitySearch is a free, local review site for users and businesses. Reviewers can write a comment for their review as well as rate the company on a 5 star rating scale. Customers may or may not go directly to the Citysearch website, but reviews posted on the site can show up in search results using the SERPs.

citysearch.com

DexKnows

Dexknows is a free to use site that allows for users to rate and review businesses. Businesses can either have a basic free profile they establish or pay a subscription fee per month to have stronger profiles and connections on other review sites like Yahoo Local and Superpages. They have a 5 star scoring system.

dexknows.com

Facebook

One of the biggest social media websites allows for people to leave reviews for a business. It is known as Facebook Recommendations. These recommendations will show up on Friends’ timelines, although this can make it easy for them to blow right past the recommendation. It is important to keep up a strong Facebook reputation because it is such a popular site.

facebook.com

Foursquare

Foursquare is a unique local business review site that caters to the user. Having a profile on foursquare allows for the site to get to know the user’s likes and ratings so it can better recommend places for the user to go. The consumer also leaves reviews and comments for places they’ve been. Users can connect with friends and they can recommend places to one another.

foursquare.com

Google My Business

Often times, when searching Google for a business, some of the first results to pop up are Google reviews. Google is a free site for all users and businesses can create their own Google listing for reviews to be left on. Google’s scoring guide is based on the 5 star scoring system.

google.com/business

Insider Pages

Insider Pages is another free to use review site; it is very similar to Citysearch. It also has a 5 star rating system. While this review website may not be as common as some others, it is indexed in the SERPs. So while the consumers you are trying to target may not necessarily go directly to this site first, they may easily come across an Insider Pages review.

insiderpages.com

Judy’s Book

Judy’s Book is a website that allows for local reviews, recommendations, and even shares local deals for the community to use. Judy’s Book uses a five star rating scale.

judysbook.com

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another social media site that can be used as a review website. Not only can you market yourself and receive recommendations from others, but businesses also have the ability to gather reviews on LinkedIn. There is a products and services page where users can review businesses and even products.

linkedin.com

Local

Local is a search engine that helps users find local places in their community. Reviews and comments can be made and read by anyone. They have a 5 star rating scale.

local.com

MerchantCircle

MerchantCircle is a review site that sets itself apart from similar websites by advertising available deals and coupons from businesses on their site. Users can leave reviews. They have a 5 star rating system.

merchantcircle.com

SuperPages

Simply type in your location at the SuperPages website and you will be connected to local businesses. You can read reviews and even write your own. They also have a 5 star rating scale.

superpages.com

Twitter

Twitter is a well-known social networking website. Twitter has a unique nature in that it is a fast paced status site. While most consumers will not go directly to Twitter to read reviews, they can come across reviews made in Tweets through SERPs. Also creatively reviewing an item or business with a hashtag, promoting a tweet, or marking it as a favorite will help in SERP searches as well as resulting in followers to see it.

twitter.com

Yahoo! Local

Yahoo! local is very similar to Google+ local. It is a free way to review businesses for users and companies can have a free profile as well. They are scored on a 5 star scale.

local.yahoo.com

Yell

Yell is a UK review site that allows for users to rate and review local businesses. They have a 5 star rating system.

yell.com

Yelp!

Yelp! is one of the more commonly visited review sites. It is free for the reviewer to leave their comments and ratings and uses a 5-star scale. Any business is welcome to make a free profile on the site and include other details like hours and business location.

yelp.com

YellowPages (YP) Yellow Pages is another local listing site. It lists information about a business and allows for reviews and ratings by users. They have a 5 star rating system.

yellowpages.com

HOSPITALITY

bike-basket

Oyster.com

Oyster prides itself in ‘uncovering the truth of each hotel’. They do this through visiting every hotel on their site, taking actual, non-edited photos and posting them for the users to see. It’s the ‘what you see is what you get’ philosophy. They write full reviews and give a rating of 5 points.

oyster.com

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor allows for the traveler to read reviews and advice from other travelers. Not only is this a great travel review site, but it also a place to plan, book, and reserve travel accommodations, restaurants, and attractions. Ratings are given on a 5-point scale.  This site is critical for hotels and drives a lot of guests and revenue for the best reviewed ones.

tripadvisor.com

RESTAURANTS

UrbanSpoon

Urban Spoon provides local restaurant information, user reviews and ratings. They are have a quick rating system of ‘like it’ or ‘don’t like it’ and show the percentage liked.

urbanspoon.com

OpenTable

OpenTable is a website that not only specializes in rating and reviews of local restaurants, but they will also assist you in making a reservation at the restaurant of your choice. They have a 5 star scale system.

opentable.com

Zagat

Zagat is a specialized restaurant review site that takes reviews and ratings and summarizes them for the user. They have a 30-point scale system that is separated into 4 categories: food, décor, service, and cost.

zagat.com

AUTOMOTIVE

Cars.com

Cars.com is a frequently visited website for consumers looking for reliable reviews from consumers and experts. They help the user better understand what to buy, where to buy it, and how much to pay. They have a 5 star rating scale. This is one of the biggest sites to consider for automotive reputation management.

cars.com

Edmunds

Edmunds is an online resource for new and used automobiles. They offer all the information on vehicles and allow for user comments and ratings. They rate on a five star scale.

edmunds.com

DealerRater

DealerRater allows for the user to search auto dealerships, reviews, and find car deals through classified ads. They do have dealer, service, and car reviews available as well. They have a 5 star rating scale.

dealerrater.com

HOME SERVICES/CONTRACTORS

craftsman

Angie’s List

Angie’s List is intended for home service type businesses. It is a membership based review site, leading to users and businesses having a higher standard of quality than many of the free review sites. People who pay to use this service often take it seriously allowing for thought out reviews and higher levels of trust with other reviewers. Reviewers give grades much like in school, as the review scale is A-F. Businesses are allowed to respond to reviews people have left about them.

angieslist.com

HomeAdvisor

HomeAdvisor is a review site that pre-screens (background checks) and allows for customers to review home service providers. This allows for the users to have a sense of security when inviting a stranger into their home. It is free to use.

homeadvisor.com

HomeStars

HomeStars connects the user with local home services of repairmen, renovators, and retailers. It is also a place to rate and review services one has used. They have a 10 star rating scale.

homestars.com

Houzz

Houzz is a website for those interested in home remodeling and design, both inside and out. On their site, they have ideas and photos for users to find inspiration. They also connect you with local professionals who specialize in the area. They have a five star scale system.

houzz.com

Kudzu

Kudzu exists to help the consumer find the best service providers for the home and family. They allow for the users to rate and review each business with a 5 star rating system.

kudzu.com

INTERNET

Site Jabber

Site Jabber provides website reviews to prevent the public from experiencing a scam or a fraud. The Internet can be a risky place to do business, but with a review site like SiteJabber working for the public, a sense of security is created. There are tips from online consumers and a place for people to report fraud.

sitejabber.com

MEDICAL

HealthGrades

Healthgrades provides the community with hospitals, physicians, and healthcare information and ratings. They have a 5 star rating system. Since this is one of the more popular medical review sites, physicians concerned with with doctor reputation management should pay attention to it.

healthgrades.com

RateMDs

RateMDs seeks to help the community find the right physician for them. They also allow for ratings and reviews of healthcare facilities such as hospitals and clinics. They have a 5 star rating system.

ratemds.com

Vitals

Vitals compares the cost, quality, and access information for users when choosing a medical facilities and/or doctor. Ratings and reviews can be given by users on a 5 star scale.  This site is important for all physicians and medical practitioners to monitor their reviews on.  Its often used when potential patients want to find a new dentist as well, so be sure to include it in your dentist reputation management strategy.

vitals.com

APARTMENTS

Apartments.com Apartmens.com is a national review site that helps the user find apartments. Renters can leave reviews and rate apartments on a 5 star scale system.

apartments.com

ApartmentRatings

ApartmentRatings is an online resource for the public to help one another out with rating and reviews apartments across the US. Users rate on a 5 star scale and can recommend and find a city average.

apartmentratings.com

ApartmentGuide

Apartment Guide is an online site geared towards users finding rental properties. User Ratings are given on a 5 star scale.

apartmentguide.com

Rent.com

Rent.com is a free to use rental site that allows for users to rate and review properties. Ratings are given on a five star system.

rent.com

RentersVoice

RentersVoice is specifically designed for online reviews. They have independent evaluators who pose as potential renters and leave reviews about their experience. Tenants can also review as they know more about living there than the independent evaluators. They have a 5 star rating system.

rentersvoice.com

REAL ESTATE

Trulia

Trulia allows for homebuyers, sellers, and renters to find the tools and information they need about a property. They also connect users to agents.

trulia.com

Zillow

Similar to Trulia, Zillow offers rental and sales information on available properties. They provide all known data and information about each property.

zillow.com

PRODUCTS

fashion-store

Buzillions

Buzzilions is an online review site for consumers to review and rate products. The idea behind this site is to help consumers avoid costly mistakes. They do not sell products, but merely allow for transparency among users to come and review items they may love or hate. They have a 5 star rating scale.

buzzillions.com

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that tests, rates, and reviews items. They have millions of followers and subscribers. They pay for the products they test and will not allow any advertising. For each product category, they have specific requirements of what the product must go through before they review the item. They share with the consumers what their criteria and tests are for each product to help them better understand the quality of the item and how it ranked. This is not an open review site for the public to write reviews, but it is one of the most legitimate review websites a consumer can read.

consumerreports.org

Consumer Search

Consumer Search is a unique review site that gives reviews and reports on the common 5 star scale. They are a little different in the way the run in that they gather reviews from print publications and the Internet. They also analyze the reviews and rank them for their reliability. It makes finding trustworthy reviews on products much simpler for the consumer.

consumersearch.com

Online Reputation and Online Reviews Statistics You Need to Know

Eric Welke Online Reviews, Reputation Management, Statistics 3 Comments

The World Wide Web has truly transformed the world; including, the way in which people communicate, gather and provide information, the ability to watch hundreds of videos without moving from a couch, and arguably one of the most important ways the internet has changed the world: the access to every individual and business online.

With access to you or your company only a click away for billions of people, your online reputation is extremely important. The days of just a few critics writing a column in the Sunday newspaper have passed with the common world of the Internet. Today, we live in a culture that takes multiple voices to form opinions about a business.

This can work in your favor or against you. Within minutes, your name could be branded positively or negatively in the minds of the world with just one web search. Customer reviews will either make or break your business. Customer reviews can be left all over the Internet. There are, of course, mainstream sources people will go to to leave and read reviews, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook, and even your website.

However, there are many more websites on the Internet dedicated to leaving reviews about your business as well. These sites may seem obscure or unimportant, but don’t be fooled. Potential customers are reading these reviews just as previous or current customers are taking the time to leave comments on them. Knowing this, many businesses are now employing online reputation management software to help get a handle on their reviews

Your website hopefully looks and runs fabulously, but the majority of potential customers checking your online reviews will make their decision based on what they read by previous customers. Here are the facts:

  • 88% of the online population will take the time to read reviews
  • 86% – 90% of these customers will make their choice on your product or service based upon online reviews
  • 88% of these customers take online reviews as seriously as if it were a personal recommendation or criticism

Surprisingly, the main source for reviews found in your favor will come from Facebook. However, the leading source of negative reviews are found on multiple review sites, which can be harder to track for you as a business owner. As you know, businesses must be constantly making improvements to keep up with competition and to hopefully become the premier service or product in your category.  Utilizing a software that helps with small business reputation management can help save time and make the process manageable.

Reviews are a primary way to either make changes or enhance what is already being done well. With so many review sites available to consumers, it can quickly become a full-time job keeping up with what is being said about you and your business. Not only do you want to be in the know of your online reviews, but you also want to be able to make adjustments and even contact the individual reviewer.

Based the general sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook, you will want to make sure you monitor industry specific sites.  For doctors, RateMDs and Vitals are critical to watch.  TripAdvisor is the biggest one for hotel reputation management, but matters very little for other industries.

underground

 

If you could turn a displeased customer into a happy customer time and time again, negative feedback would not be so negative. Negative feedback turned to constructive criticism may open your eyes to needed adjustments and ultimately making you a stronger and better business as long as you make those changes.

And potentially, fewer negative comments will be made about your business. So why do all these reviews on social media and websites even matter? Because these reviews make up your online reputation! Even those reviews that may seem to be placed on an obscure site make a difference to how you are viewed by the Internet world.

Soon after a perspective customer has begun reading reviews, they won’t take long to begin forming an opinion about your business’s service or product. In general, customers will read less than 10 reviews before forming an opinion and making a decision about your product or business.

This short timeframe is crucial to attracting perspective clients and turning them into customers. With a highly positive online reputation you will catch the attention and business you desire. With all this talk about the importance of your online reputation, it is important to always know what your reputation is!

For some, they may be surprised to find out the truth of what people think of their business. To begin, use a search engine and simply type in your business name. What shows up first? If your business has a strong Internet presence, you should find your main website and all your social media sites as the first few results in the search, online reviews web pages should follow.

When viewing your search results, be sure to look at the first three pages of the results, not just the first. Those on pages two and three are still high contenders for moving to the first page. If you are finding reviews out there hurting your business, be sure to not only read them but also understand what the customer is saying. Your business has a better chance of succeeding if you listen to the public and address issues as needed.

There is no sense in trying to make your business better if you won’t listen to what people are saying about you and your business. Good business owners are always striving to make their business better, which means looking for ways you can improve your online reputation. With a strong and positive reputation on the Internet, you will bring in more business.

The 6 following tips are ways you can improve your online reputation:

Make sure you have a strong social media presence. Social media (Facebook, twitter, Instagram, vine, etc.) is quickly taking over how people spend their time on the Internet. Having a strong presence on social media can bring you more customers.

Don’t just make a page on these sites, regularly update them and connect with current consumers and potential customers. If you have negative reviews on sites showing up as some of your top search pages, you can usually move these down in the search results by making a profile on different social media platforms.

*Those customers active on Twitter and Facebook tend to expect a quick response. Be sure to have a trusted employee or someone connected and knowledgeable with your business responding to them in a decent timeframe (if you are too busy to do so).

Respond to negative reviews. However, do not go on the defense, as this will just deter people from your business even more. If something truly upsets you, don’t respond right away. Take your time, walk away from the computer (if you need to) and respond when you feel calm. When the business personally apologizes and owns up to mistakes, people notice, especially those reading the reviews.

It is also a chance to show readers this experience may not be normal and reassure them you are a business that is personally involved and listening to the customers. Also, don’t just respond to these negative reviews, make changes as need be and learn from mistakes or communication errors.

think-coffee

 

Respond to positive reviews as well. Offer a reward like a coupon or simply say thank you. This kind of response is remembered and people will keep this in mind for the future.

-Be aware of your personal reputation and behavior. You are affiliated with your business and while you may try to keep the two separate, customers and potential customers will always tie you and your business together. Many business reputations have been damaged by the owner’s personal life choices and behavior.

As a CEO, you should be seen as a respected businessman or woman, but that becomes challenging when others see you acting in ways that say otherwise. This of course includes your personal life and what is seen on your personal social media pages. So don’t just act like a respectable businessman or woman, BE the respectable businessman or woman in all walks of your life.

-Always know what is being posted on your website and social media sites. You want to constantly monitor what the Web is saying about you. If you have handed this task over to an employee, keep an eye them. You don’t want misleading information getting out to the public or an upset employee posting anything that could compromise your reputation. This goes for review sites as well.

-Concentrate on the important sites. As your business grows, keeping track of your online reputation can become more challenging. Focus on the most important and looked at sites first: Yelp, Google, Twitter, and Facebook.

However, this is not an excuse to always ignore other reputation making or breaking platforms. Monitor smaller or more obscure sites periodically. You always want to aim for 4.5-5 stars on a review site from at least 18 reviewers.

With these sort of numbers, your online reputation will be remarkable and cause strong competition for your competitors. Those searching your product or services on review sites will be drawn to your business as these are trustworthy numbers. We’ve talked about the importance of your online reputation and ways to improve it, but we need to talk about how to get reviews and build your reputation.

-Build customer relationships. This is especially important if you are a local business. One way to grow relationships is by having a newsletter and making it available online (email and website). Have some sort of form for those walking in your business door they can add their name and email to for up to date information and even sales or coupons. Be sure to reach out to both those walking in person and those online. You never know who is going to leave a review.

-Encourage customers to write reviews. It may not be possible to interact with each and every customer; but with those you are able to interact with, encourage them to leave a review on yelp or other review sites.

You can even have a link on your social media pages or website leading them to where you are encouraging reviews to be made. The search engine Google will often give a higher placement to those businesses that receive more positive reviews. But remember, do not force, be subtle about this.

-Showcase reviews in your business and even on your social media posts. When you are placing reviews where they will be seen, customers and potential customers will see them first. By doing this, you are showing the people you care about what they have to say and are listening. You are also helping to form that stronger online reputation you desire.

-Do NOT pay for reviews. There are ways online to pay for reviews to make you look good. However, this is not only against FTC and Google’s legal policies, it is morally wrong. If it looks obvious you paid for reviews, customers will not trust you. Also, do not offer free incentives for customers to leave reviews.

This is the same as paying for a review. Your reviews need to be legitimate for you to be trusted and if it gets out you are behaving in this way, you will quickly lose trust and your reputation may plummet.

-Shine with great customer service. Running a business successfully requires some kind of decent customer service. If you do not excel in this area, you need to focus on improving customer service. With great customer service, people will be happy with you and be motivated to leave positive reviews.

While there are always multiple areas of a business in which reviews are made, a good portion of negative experiences come from customer service:

  • 72% of customer service complaints are made because they have to explain the issue with multiple representatives
  • 51% of customer service experience was upsetting to the consumer, as the issue was not resolved due to poor interaction
  • 58% of consumers said they have recently (within the past 5 years) began leaving more and more online reviews based upon customer service
  • 100% of customers who make over $150,000 annually claim to leave reviews when it comes to a poor customer service experience

Remember your goal should be happy and satisfied customers, knowing your online reputation and reading reviews will help equate to this. But remember, don’t just know and read what is said about your business, reach out and listen to the customer. Don’t let the customer make or break your business, you can take control and make or break your business by your response to your reputation and reviews!

Online Reputation Management: The Complete Guide + Tips

Eric Welke Guides, Reputation Management, Reputation Marketing 1 Comment

No business can succeed today without devoting some time to their online presence. In particular, this is referring to their online reputation. More and more people are using the Internet to find out about a business, thus it is necessary to have some presence online in order to be found by potential customers. Furthermore, your online reputation can determine your success for the future. Hence, the importance of learning how to properly manage and develop your online reputation.

Why is Online Reputation Important?

Having a positive online reputation is vital to your business success. Consider this type of scenario, your business offers plumbing products, and a potential customer is searching online for a company that provides these products.

If your online reputation is nonexistent or there are tons of negative remarks about your company, chances are the person is going to choose someone else for their plumping product needs. This is where a stable and positive online reputation could have helped to make a sell. However, this is not the only reason as to why an online reputation is important. There is also:

  • Shows potential or current investors that you are a business to invest into
  • Your online reputation can also affect the people who apply to work for you
  • Affects whether other businesses turn to you for the product or service that they need

If your online reputation is damaged, your business is damaged.

Common Online Reputation Issues

There are several issues that can be seen with most business when looking at their online reputation. Here are some of the most common:

Negative Customer Reviews

Many businesses who do not maintain an active monitoring of their online reputation are often surprised when they receive a negative review that is starting to affect their customer base. Many negative reviews can be prevented with stellar customer service, and those that are written can be aided with the proper responses.

Competition Hate

The Internet is an amazing tool, however, in the wrong hands, this can turn into something dangerous. When you are facing a highly competitive market, it is nothing for a business to find that there are tons of hate reviews out there about them or even comments made about how awful their business may be that are not true. These comments are placed online by the competition, and though it is a deceitful and distasteful way to do business, it does happen.

A Dismissal from Experts

When a consumer is looking for a new product or service, they are going to take the advice of what are considered “experts”. If a business ruins their image with an expert, that expert can make their business suffer. If an expert were to plainly omit suggesting a company or even slander the company, then the online reputation is slowly starting a downward spin.

Though these are the issues that are facing most businesses, there are an alarming number of businesses who are committing errors with their online reputations, and are not even aware that they are causing untold damage. The most common errors that are being seen with online reputations are:

  • Companies do not seem to put enough stress on the importance of the online reputation, which is resulting in some companies simply not caring. This is going to directly affect their bottom line. However, there are some companies, even those that are based entirely online, that are not giving the attention to this aspect that is needed.
  • Though companies may have social media accounts, they have no idea as to what they are doing and are doing everything without having any type of plan in place that helps them to see what to do. In the end, this is going to hurt them tremendously.
  • Responding inappropriately to comments or reviews is becoming a huge issue. And once a business responds negatively, it is almost impossible to undo the damage.

The good news is that with the proper knowledge about online reputations, a business can start to maintain this better and will find that their business benefits from this.

Handling Your Online Reputation

bread-shop

With online reputation, every business owner needs to remember that they must do whatever is necessary in order to make sure their reputation remains unchanged and intact. Or in worse case scenarios, that they are starting to form an online reputation. There are several ways that are highly recommended in order to start your online reputation the right way.

Social Media

Social media is a huge tool to use in order to maintain and to start a stellar online reputation. There are several social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. However, no business should limit themselves to the type of social media that they are using. Instead, a person should look for the social media that is going to fit their needs the best.

There are tons of social media groups out there that have a common goal or a common interest. A business who really wants to utilize social media in the best way possible will belong to as many of these groups that could have potential customers in them. In order to use social media for online reputation, remember these key points:

  • Post information that is going to be valuable and entertaining to your followers
  • Be sure that you are posting information that is going to help you to establish yourself as a expert in your field
  • Post often to social media sites
  • Interact with those who are using these social media sties, as social media is all about relationships
  • You can use social media for advertisement as well as maintaining your reputation, but do not use this solely for advertising as this will affect your reputation with customers

With the rise of social media, this is not something that you can put off doing. In fact, those businesses who are not using social media are going to find that they are getting left behind the rest of the business world. For those who are considering social media or wanting to expand their options, here is a short list of social media sites to consider:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Google Plus
  • LinkedIn

These are just a few of the more popular sites that businesses are finding success on currently.

Blog Posts

Blogging is becoming the best way for businesses to showcase why they are the best business choice and how they have expert knowledge in the field. There are several companies who have a blog on their website, while others maintain a separate blog site. The idea behind any blog is:

  • Entertain the reader
  • Inform the reader
  • Show the reader that the writer knows what they are talking about
  • Encourage readers to use the business when they are in need of the product or service that is being offered by the business

This seems like a lot for any blog to do. However, blogs that are successful are doing this everyday. The blog also helps to maintain an online reputation that is good and reliable. Online reputations work hand in hand with blogs, as a blog is your chance to shine and show the world what your business is made of. With this being said, a business will want to follow a few key steps to maintaining a business blog:

  • Post about subjects that are going to be of interest to readers
  • Regularly schedule posts as this shows that your business is reliable
  • Be open to comments that are added and respond to these
  • Try to answer any and all questions with your blog that may arise

A blog does not take that long to set up and it can be handled with just a few hours devoted per week. It is a no cost way to really affect how people see your business online. Be sure that you utilize Google Plus with your blog, as this has shown to be incredibly effective in reaching a higher number of readers. Plus, it is just another way to combine social media with your blogs for even more appeal to readers, and to help cement your reputation as a honest and knowledgeable business.

Videos

Videos are dominating social media more than ever, and a business who has videos out there, will find that their business is easily found by potential customers. In addition to this, these can serve as great ways to enhance your online reputation as you can prove your credibility with this type of media.

Videos can be of anything that you want, but you will find that as a business the more that you can show you know what you are doing in your field, the better you will be. That is why videos that show how to sources, emphasize the importance of your product or service and related concepts are going to rank higher and be more helpful to watchers.

A great idea is for your business to have a YouTube channel in which you post videos weekly or bi-weekly. The idea is that over time your channel will become the go to for customers who need advice on the service or products that you offer. For example, a business that works in the advertising industry may provide videos on negative advertising and then show how they work with you to make your advertising campaign work for your business.

Videos do not have to be long at all, in fact, the shorter that it is, the more likely people are going to watch. Most people would rather watch a short 3 minute segment, rather than an hour long feature online. The key to this is to ensure that your subject matter is clear and concise, and answer everything that needs to be answered within a certain time frame.

Press Releases

Though many businesses have stopped the use of press releases, these are still great ways to get the word out about a new product or service that you are offering. There are several websites that cater to press releases. All a business owner has to do is to write up these press releases and send these to the websites that can publish these. It is a good idea to utilize several websites for these press releases in order to ensure that you reach a wide demographic. You can also use these press releases on your own blog and publish a link via the social media that you are active on to enhance the number of customers that you reach.

Your Business Website

manhattan

SEO, or search engine optimization, is an important tool when it comes to online reputation. The whole idea behind SEO is that you utilize keywords that are going to get your website ranked on search engines, like Google. It would make sense to place these keywords in easy to see areas that are going to get you ranked.

However, Google has passed new rules about SEO, which does encourage the use of natural keyword placement. Meaning, that the keyword that you use should not appear every other sentence. If it does, you are going to find that the website will be ranked lower. Your businesses website is one of the first faces that people see when they search online for your business.

Thus, it should be a website that you are proud of and one in which customers will be impressed with. The SEO of your website is vital, therefore, many businesses get professionals to handle their SEO to ensure that there is nothing that is going to penalize them later. A few rules to with your website development:

  • Have websites pages that are designed to deal with all the products and/or services the business offers. Do not just have a one page website. Utilize the space effectively and make your website a bit more complex and more organized.
  • Have internal and external links on your website, as these are helpful. But, be sure that these links are live and that they are active. Just linking to whatever is not going to get your ranked higher in Google.
  • Only use original content on your site, which does mean putting in the time to develop this content. If duplicate content is found, your site will be penalized for this.
  • Never repeat content on different pages within the website, as this is going to be looked at as duplicate content, which can affect your search engine rating.
  • Do not stuff keywords into the text, let this appear naturally.
  • Utilize tags and titles that are going to be keyword relevant for easier search ranking.

Having a website to maintain an online reputation is a must in the current market. If a business were to avoid a website, they cannot except to have much control over their online reputation, as the business is not online.

Dealing with Negativity

There are going to be times, no matter how stellar your online reputation is that you will receive negative comments. Many times negative comments are due to ex-employees or customers who feel as though they were wronged. The worse thing that a business can do is to let these negative comments go without saying a word about them.

This can be very damaging online as these negative reviews may be the first aspect that potential customers see about your business. Car dealers can have a particularly hard time due to the sales nature of the business, but this applies to all industries serving consumers. However, you should not respond immediately with a retort that may be full of angry. In doing this, you do more damage to your online reputation. There are several steps to follow in order to ensure that you are dealing with the negative comment appropriately:

  • Check to see if the comment is merited. This means looking at what is being said, and if the customer is really talking about something that happened or not. Many negative comments are posted onto complaint boards via the competition, and it is important to rule out if this is possible or not.
  • If you find that the comment is not warranted and that this is being put there by a competitive business, then petition to have this removed by the website. In most cases, if you can prove that the competition is doing this, these websites will remove the comments as they are only interested in real comments by real people who have done business with the company.
  • If the complaint registers as being real, then you need to damage control. This means really reading the complaint and responding in a manner that shows your business does care about customer service and is going to do all that you can do in order to make the situation right again.

So just how should a business respond to the negative complaint? The best method is through posting publicly to the complaint an apology and asking the person to get into contact with you via a personal method to help make the situation right.

This shows that you did read the complaint and are making efforts to work this out. In the event that the person never contacts you, it is not a bad idea to post publicly that the person filing the complaint never followed up with you. There are businesses that post their solution to the complaint publicly. For example, a complaint about a product may mean that the business publicly posts their apology and gives directions on how to return the defective product for a new one or for a full refund.

In doing this, they show the public that they work with their customers, and this gives a sense of trust to the consumer market. Under no circumstances should you respond to a negative comment with your own negativity, even though you may feel like it at the moment. Instead, it is recommended to follow these tips:

  • Allow a few days to pass before posting to one of these negative comments so that you are not responding with high emotions
  • Always read your response thoroughly, before posting this to ensure that it is sincere and not sarcastic or has any trace of anger in it
  • Be ready to follow through on whatever you promise in your response, as this is a big part of maintaining your online reputation

One of the main questions that business ask when dealing with their online reputation is what they should do in the event that a negative review is rather harsh and damaging to their brand? There are situations in which many businesses have found that a review or comment is slanderous, threatening and simply rude. In these cases, a business owner will find that responding to the comment is out of the question. Instead, a business should look at their legal options. Legal options can include:

  • Defamation Lawsuit: Which only works if you can prove that the comments/reviews are false and can be proven to be wrong. Sometimes, just threatening with a lawsuit can have the comments or reviews removed from the website. But, you must be ready to follow through with this.
  • Harassment Charges: If the poster does make comments that are harassing or threatening in any way, then you can take these comments as a form of harassment and is a punishable crime.
  • There is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that is meant to protect your images or other information that you have online. If a comment or review online uses this information in a negative manner or without your permission, you can have it removed immediately.
  • A UDRP (Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy) is in place to protect against your trademark. Which is something that you should look into if you believe that your brand has been used in a way that you do not approve of.

Monitoring Your Online Reputation

In order to manage your online reputation, you must know how to search for items being written about your business by utilizing reputation monitoring with vigilance. There are several ways in which you can monitor what is being said about your business, and all of these are something that every business should be considering.

Google Alerts

Setting up Google Alerts when the name of your business or even the name of the business owner is mentioned is a great way to be on top of when something new is posted online. This is a valuable tool that will deliver results to your email inbox everyday if there is information being said. It can be one of the best ways to stay on top of your online reputation.

Google’s Me On The Web

This tool helps to monitor whenever your name is mentioned, even monitoring social media feeds for the name mention. It can be a great way to determine if there ex-employees or disgruntled customers.

Monitoring Software

There are tons of monitoring software on the market that are going to work to monitor your brand image and name for you. The good news is that the majority of these are free to use, and require a simple sign up process. For example, currently is a search tool that looks through 20 different search images for the term you enter, in this case, your business name. Look to see what is out there and just what it can do for you. These types of tools can save you from searching online for hours a day to find information about your business.

Putting it All Together

The online reputation of a business can make or break the business. A bad online reputation will result in losing customers and not being able to get new customers to work with the business. This can also affect any potential business dealings, such as finding investors or the like.

The online reputation of a business can be controlled with constant monitoring and learning how to deal with those negative comments. However, there are going to be times in which a business simply has to turn its head to what is being said, especially if this is very malicious. In worse case scenarios, businesses have to have the law on their side in order to avoid these complaints ruining their online reputation. Be sure that you are:

  • Using social media to balance your online reputation
  • Have a useful website and blog
  • Utilize press releases
  • Have videos that show your business expertise
  • Utilize software to monitor the Internet for news or comments about your business, or do this on your own

In addition, avoid doing things that could hurt your online reputation more, such as:

  • Responding to complaints with anger
  • Utilize SEO techniques that are going to penalize your website

Your online reputation is essential to the success of your business. It is easy to become obsessed with monitoring this and doing everything in your power to ensure that your reputation is not tarnished. The reputation is that essential to success. Through following your reputation and addressing any issues that arise, you should be able to ensure that your business has the stellar reputation that you have always dreamed of having, and your business results will reflect the hard work that has been put into managing your online reputation.