Your mama might have told you that at the end of the day, all you have is your reputation. Before you write off this advice as old-fashioned, think about this: Today, your reputation precedes you, whether youa��re the Queen of England or the owner of a widget-shop in Smalltown, U.S.A.
How can this be? Ita��s the nature of the Internet. If Bob has a good or bad experience at a motel in any city in the country, he can share his thoughts with literally anyone in the world who has an Internet connection. Between online reviews, Facebook pages, personal blogs and web forums, you can find information about nearly any business out there.
This can be a blessing or a curse: As a business-owner, you want people to be giving you good reviews. The better your reviews, the more likely it is that potential clients will pick up the phone and give you a call. On the other hand, bad reviews can lower your credibility and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Over time, most businesses will get at least a couple of less-than-stellar reviews. Remember that you cana��t make everyone happy all of the time. Bad reviews might happen, and thata��s okay; you just need some strategies in place to get past them.
Ask for Reviews
You need to come up with a systematic way to ask all of your customers and clients for reviews. It can be as simple as printing a request at the bottom of each invoice and email. Include the link to your Yelp, Glassdoor, Google or Yahoo Review page.
If you are on Facebook, you can ask your contacts to like your page and add a review. Sweeten the deal by offering a free product or service to one reviewer per month. The more reviews you A�have on social media, the more likely someone is to leave a new review.
Perform Damage Control
So, youa��ve gotten a poor review. It happens to everyone. There are a few ways you can deal with it:
- Ignore it.
- Try to rectify the situation.
- Blast the reviewer and air whatever dirty laundry you can about what he or she did wrong.
You obviously know that the last option isna��t really an option! Or, we hope you know. Either of the first two might work, though. If you can, try to reach out and find out if you can do anything to make the reviewer happy. A comped meal or service, or perhaps just an apology for whatever went wrong might ease tension and prompt the writer to update the review.
On the other hand, sometimes saying nothing is better. If the former client has been unreasonable in the past or has included foul language or veiled threats in the review, it might be better to just leave well enough alone. People reading unprofessional reviews will generally skip over them.
Either way, evaluate whether you need to make changes in the way your business is run or in your service or product in response to any negative reviews that you do get.
Stay on Top of Reviews
Remember that whatever you find out about yourself by running a Google search today might not be valid tomorrow. People add reviews at all hours of the day and night. Make it a weekly habit to check your review sites. This way, you can nip any potential issues in the bud.
Also, be sure that your name, address, phone number and other contact information are correct. Occasionally they are wrong; if they are, youa��ll need to go through the offending website to have your listing updated.
Being aware of your online reputation is an important part of running a business in 2015. Dona��t forget to remain aware of your reviews.
Creative Commons image by tec_estromberg (Flickr)