As a small business, one of the most important things you can do is manage your business’s reputation both online and offline. As more customers are doing Internet searches on businesses to learn about them, details can be uncovered about executives at the business, customer service issues, and other challenges that you don’t necessarily want the world to hear about.
Here are a few helpful tips to mitigate the risks associated with running a business and preventing damage to your reputation:
Customer service is key
All it takes is one unhappy customer who receives no response, whether on social media, email, or phone, and you could have trouble on your hands. This is when customers head to forums to complain, or worse, to the Better Business Bureau to report you.
Even after hours, customers are always shopping, and you still need to maintain some level of responsiveness to their needs, or small frustrations can become big frustrations quickly.
At a minimum, be very clear on your website how to contact customer service, what the hours of service are, and what your typical response time will be. Don’t bury this information, as customers often feel as though they have to go on a wild goose chase to find customer service information online these days. You can stand out by not having that be the case, and get glowing reviews online for your responsiveness and positive attitude.
Use a reputation monitoring service
For a small fee, businesses will monitor your online reputation for you. This can be very helpful in keeping issues from escalating, as the service will proactively indicate for you when troubling information is appearing in search results. Services like this will help you to manage and/or suppress these negative results if the results do wind up sticking around.
Social media presence is important
One method recommended for suppressing negative search results is in building up your social media engagement. Having Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages for your business is a great idea, as these sites tend to rank highly in search engine results because of their level of recognition. The links to your pages on these sites will tend to further push back other possibly detrimental links in search results.
Gravitate Online cites that “over 94% of users clicked on a first page result and less than 6% actually click(ed) to the second page” in search engine results. So make sure that first page of results is full of positivity!
Another opportunity lies in asking your customers who have had good experiences with you for favorable reviews on your social media sites, and gain permission to quote them in your blog and on your website.
In short, being responsive to and treating your customers well will prevent a large percent of the damage that a business can incur to their reputation, as so many customers are now reporting on their customer experiences with businesses, and many new customers are reading reviews on businesses before shopping. Make sure those reviews about you glow, and if they don’t, take advantage of online reputation management services and social media links in order to help push those negative reviews on to at least page two of search engine results. Your business will be much better off.
About the Author
Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from small business reputation management to health and wellness.