Your Online Reputation: Testimonials, Reviews, and How to Protect Your Business
02-20-12 by Nadia Romeo
More and more people are turning to the internet to find local businesses. You probably already know that having a website is key for finding new customers and getting new leads. But do you ever think about your company’s online reputation?
While many people used to reply on word-of-mouth to find out which plumber was the best, the internet has changed where people are seeking out these recommendations. Instead of having to ask their neighbor or their cousin about a service company, they can now simply Google your company’s name to bring up dozens of popular review sites and possibly hundreds of reviews of your business. And over 70 percent of people trust online reviews.
The Good and the Bad
The good news is that a few good reviews on some important sites, like Yelp and Google Places, can have a big impact on your business. When a new customer is making a decision about which contractor to hire, some glowing testimonials about your business can make it stand out among its competitors.
The bad news, of course, is that a few bad reviews can have the opposite effect. Why would you hire a contractor if someone is claiming they are a scam artist? Some more disreputable competitors can leave fake negative reviews about your company, and it is often very difficult to get these reviews removed. While it might seem that these aren’t a big deal, these rad reviews can be pulled onto other websites and spread throughout the web, damaging your image and giving your company a bad name.
So, what can you do? One of the easiest ways to show your company to its best advantage is to have testimonials right on your website. These should be real testimonials from your recent customers; many people can spot a fake a mile away. Not only does this build confidence in people considering your business, it also is great new content for your site (which Google loves). Testimonials can be shared on your social media profiles and your blog, and it’s an easy way to connect with both new and old customers. The testimonials also contain important key words, for example:
“Whenever I have called COMPANY for a plumbing problem, they are here in less than an hour. My old plumber took 3 days at best!”
There is no downside to having testimonials on your site; the hardest part is collecting them. Leave a postcard after a service call that a customer can mail in, or encourage them to fill out a survey on your website. If you do a good job, most people would be happy to write a short recommendation of your company.
A much more difficult task is getting customers to leave real reviews on websites such as Yelp and Google Places. However, since more and more people are turning to these review sites to evaluate businesses, it is very important to have a strategy to get customers to leave reviews of your company.
The first step is claim your profile on these websites, so if someone does leave a bad review, you can respond as the owner and try to resolve the problem. Even if the customer does not respond to your message, it helps mitigate the effect of the negative review by showing other potential customers your good faith effort to make amends.
Getting good reviews might seem difficult, but just like getting testimonials, it is all about consistently asking your customers to write these recommendations. You can make it very easy for them by linking to these review sites right from your own website, with even a simple call out such as: “Rate Our Service”. You can also email customers after a service call to encourage them to help your business by leaving a review. Another advantage of getting these reviews on external sites is that listings with more reviews tend to show up higher in search results.
It might seem tempting to put up fake reviews on your business profile, the long term effects can be very bad for your business. Fake reviews are often easy to spot if you know what to look for: reviews that sound like advertisements, reviewers who have left hundreds of reviews for companies all over the country (all five stars), and tons of reviews for a company all left on the same day. More and more people are becoming adept at finding these patterns and it can cause people to distrust your reviews, and even worse, they might lose faith in your business. Integrity and value are key factors people look for when choosing a service company, so few things are more devastating than being perceived as untrustworthy.
A recent article in Forbes explained why customer service is the new marketing, and the big businesses out there are turning to review sites as part of their PR strategy. When faced with a lot of options, people are using online reviews to help them make their final decision on what to buy and who to hire. You can no longer ignore your company’s online reputation and hope for the best, every company needs to develop a strategy to get good reviews out there and respond to the bad ones:
- Get testimonials for your website
- Claim your business profiles
- Respond to negative reviews
- Ask your customers to leave good reviews
None of these steps are very complicated, but you need to make these a part of your overall marketing plan. iMarket also offers a reputation management program so that you can make sure that your company’s good reputation is actively being built and maintained. Contact us today for more details!