Having a strong online reputation management is more important than ever.

A study by Harvard Business review found that a difference of one star in the average rating in a typical online business profile can lead to a 5-9 % difference in revenue, but how can you influence customer feedback and proactively manage your online reputation management?

Here are a couple of steps to master online reputation management

Step 1: Listen to Your Customers

Your customers are the best resource for discovering how to make improvement to your business, so establish a system to genuinely listen to and engage with what your customers are saying about you.

Online reputation management 101

The people who have had direct interactions with your brand – in other words, your customers – are the best bets to amplify your reputation. But you better ensure your reputation is positive in the mind of your current customers or else there’s no use in having them spread it.

A great way to make sure you always know what your customers are thinking is to design a feedback system. Whether it’s a survey by email, a quick phone call or simply asking them in person, giving your customers an easy way to tell you what they’re thinking – and then listening to them – is extremely valuable to your business.

Step 2: Target Relevant Review Websites

You can refine your monitoring process by focusing on the review websites that matter most to your target audience. Knowing which reviews sites are most influential will help you plan an appropriate online reputation management process.

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. After seeing this stat, there’s only one thing you should be thinking: how to get more digital reviews.

Reviews are not only important for generally building up your online reputation management, they’re also a really powerful sales tool. Potential customers will buy from you simply based on the fact that other people – other strangers – have said buying from you is a good idea. If you can find out what channels and sites your customers use to review your business, you can then send potential customers there by featuring prominent links to the positive reviews.

Step 3: Gather Customer Feedback

Don’t leave the review process to chance, request customer feedback from both online and offline customer touchpoint. Be creative, be polite and be direct.

Online reputation management 101

For whatever reason, if you can’t seem to get your customers to leave reviews on relevant sites and they don’t fill out the surveys you send them, you might have to take a more direct approach. A real, human interaction might be the best time to gather customer feedback, so whether it’s asking during a one-to-one transaction, or taking a client out for lunch, being direct is the best way to generate honest feedback.

And if you don’t like what you hear? Ask customers how you can improve and then promise them you’ll work on it. Negative feedback in the form of constructive criticism is just as powerful as positive feedback.

Step 4: Share Your Customer Feedback

Positive customer reviews make excellent marketing content, so make sure to publicly thank customers for their time and their comments. Your social media profiles are an ideal place to share your customers praise.

Online reputation management 101

Whenever you receive praise from customers, don’t get all bashful and keep it a secret. Let the world know when a customer praises you. Whether it’s through a written testimonial displayed on your site or a photo or video shared on social media, use every channel at your disposal to spread the word about your overjoyed customers. Leveraging a positive reputation is a sure-fire way to generate new business.

 Step 5: Learn and Improve

Be ready to learn from negative feedback and make improvements. Remember to respond quickly and positively to bad reviews and your reputation will be enhanced rather than damaged by the poor review.

Online reputation management 101

Online review sites are growing in popularity as customer feedback is becoming a key factor in customer buying decisions (89% of people say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions), you can either lead it to chance or take steps to manage your online reputation and gain the marketing advantage.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again: even negative feedback can be a positive thing. Instead of getting defensive, embrace the negative feedback of your clients and promise them you’ll learn and improve from the experience. And don’t just say you’ll make improvements – go out and actually improve.

Striving to continually make your product or service offering better can never be a bad thing.

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