Online Reputation Management for small business
Protecting your most important asset
A reputation can take a long time to grow and yet it can be ruined overnight. It is the most important asset a person or business has and is something worth protecting.
Before the arrival of the internet, a company's reputation was largely built on the strength, integrity and quality of its people, products and services, not to forget face-to-face interaction with customers and spread by word of mouth.
In the advent of web 2.0, online forums and social media, people have the ability to publish their views and opinions on social networks and engage with businesses in near real-time for feedback and assistance via microblogs such as Twitter and brand profiles on Facebook to name but two common touch points.
Reputation management enhances customer relationships
This presents massive opportunities for customer-centric businesses who actively listen to what their customers are saying online and reply promptly when a response is sought or expected.
Such businesses use listening and engagement to obtain insightful feedback that can in turn be used to improve products, services and processes. Companies often take this a step further and provide a form of online customer service that drives customer satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy and 'word of mouth' referrals to friends and family.
Turning negative feedback around into a positive outcome
Negative feedback can also be turned around into a positive outcome with a timely, sympathetic response that seeks to help the customer with their concern. While it might appear on the surface that you are only helping one customer at a time, hundreds if not thousands of existing and potential customers see these interactions and your 'post sale' commitment to helping customers, which go a long way towards influencing potential customers who are comparing your business with your competitors as part of their online research. In fact, it will most likely tip the scales in your favour when compared to a rival.
With customer expectations continuing to rise, companies that fail to engage with customers online or respond to customer feedback on social channels risk being perceived as disconnected, disinterested and unresponsive to the evolving needs and expectations of their customers.
Easier said than done?
There are different approaches to managing your reputation online. Beginners should start by first registering for some Google Alerts that match your brand and product names which will be sent daily to your email address. You should also regularly read online consumer forums that are likely to discuss your company and products. This is the tip of the iceberg and something every business must strongly consider today, it costs nothing and takes up less than an hour of your week. But this only satisfies the 'listening' aspect in its most basic form and does not allow for engagement and response.
Larger businesses at different stages of social media maturity should consider a social media monitoring tool (of which there are many) underpinned with a strategy, goals, processes, measurement, resources and workflows between different areas within a company. This tool is also often used to post content to your company's branded social media profiles and to respond to comments posted on a profile, removing the need to log into to different social profiles each time you want to post or respond.
Contact us today if you would like to discuss adding or improving the management of your reputation online.
* Source: KPMG.com