You don’t have to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar corporation to know how valuable it is to protect your company’s brand online. Poor reviews, fraudulent claims, and negative comments may seem small, but can have a huge impact on your brand—and your bottom line. Bad reviews (literally) cost you sales. Since the process of protecting your brand is so valuable, it’s never too early to get started protecting—and building—your business’ reputation.
Provide excellent customer service
Adequate customer service won’t do. Every customer interaction—both in-person and online—should result in a positive review. For consistent in-person customer service, train every member of your team that interacts with customers and vendors on proper phone and sales tactics.
For your online brand, assign customer service to a specific staff member or group of staff members to make sure every customer interaction is promptly addressed. Customers expect—actually demand—a reply to their questions within hours (or minutes) of their inquiry. Take that customer service to the next level by offering a response that sounds like a human. Canned responses won’t do; use that and these other online customer service tips to ensure that your customers are happy—and leaving positive reviews about the excellent service they received.
Reach your customers with everything they need
If you want your customers to choose your product or service, give them everything they need—and more than your competitors do. For new customers, reach them early in the purchasing process before they are ready to buy. Think like your customers do, and give them the tips and information (answers to their questions!) they’re looking for while they decide what to buy.
Search engine optimization (SEO), website content, content marketing, and social media are the four tactics that together can achieve that purpose. Together, these four online marketing tactics combine to reach potential customers and gain their trust. SEO optimizes your website for the search engines so your website appears at the top of the listings when they look for products and services (local listings when you use local SEO). Website content gives them the information your targeted audience needs.
Content marketing answers all their questions beyond what your website provides. Through a series of content and images, content marketing answers your customers questions and gives them the information they need. To search engines, content marketing is a signal that you are giving your customers what they want and need. It also “tells” search engines that you are keeping your website updated with fresh new content. (If you don’t have time to deliver quality content, contact a marketing group that can.)
You can push your content marketing pieces out through social media channels, which is another way to gain your customers’ trust. Use the 80/20 rule: 80% of your posts should be information, tips, and entertainment that can build their trust. Twenty percent should be direct selling about your products and services.
Establish a strong online brand
Your company goes to great lengths to create a favorable impression with your in-person customers and vendors; do the same online. Craft a solid website that anchors all your online marketing efforts (use these tips to ensure your website is quality). Respond to all website inquiries that come through promptly.
Use social media sites to make the conversation with your customers two-way. Research social media sites and post regularly on the sites where your customers are (more information on choosing the right social media sites for your brand here). In your social media posts, build trust and reach your customers with information about your products and services (social media post ideas here). Respond to all inquiries promptly with excellent customer service.
Monitor online reviews
If you don’t use online reviews to choose a company product or service, you may be the only one. Research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision (Source: Search Engine Land). Monitor online reviews on social media sites and review sites to see what customers are saying about your business (after all your potential customers are).
If someone does post a negative review, take a deep breath. Do not try to argue with the customer. Do not use a canned, blah-blah-blah response that sounds like a bad customer service recording. Instead, contact the customer with a human voice and ask to start a private conversation with them. Ask them for information about their contact with your business. Don’t be defensive; instead work together with the customer to come to a resolution. There are automated solutions that can make the process more efficient; however, remember that the human element should always shine through as your protect your business’ reputation.