When visiting a new city, most people request Google to recommend the ‘best restaurants near me’. The numbered list they get back in nanoseconds clearly ranks the restaurants near them by popularity. Ever wondered how the owners of the restaurants at number 2, 3 or 10 must feel, if they browsed the same information, out of curiosity? What can one do to get to the top of the list? It’s not that easy!
The impeccable quality of one’s products or services doesn’t decide the issue anymore. Websites have user generated content and allow anyone and everyone to talk about anything under the sun and that would include your services and products. You can’t avoid any of these voices, opinions and reviews. One negative review or nasty comment online could mar one’s reputation and business prospects. This has made it imperative for businesses to stay ahead of the chatter and manage their online reputation with the attention and care it deserves.
Online Reputation Management best practices to consider
Your online reputation is what people think of you as a business. It is a fragile entity controlled by the public, requiring your active intervention as you keep receiving both negative and positive feedback. There are some best practices you can follow when managing your digital reputation.
- Establish processes to follow all the chatter online which mentions you, not forgetting that some of these could be business inquiries.
- Correct any inaccurate listing if you come to know of it, and address all reviews and defamatory postings online which refer to you, irrespective of the date on which it was posted. Use legal means to fight false reviews and have them removed. Untraceable and hidden attacks will need to be investigated by online analysts using email traces, data cross-indexing and other techniques.
- Put out positive content and ensure it is search optimized to get it ranked higher than the negative content, if you can’t get it removed.
- Deal with all reviews in a respectful and professional manner, clearly demonstrating your willingness to address their grievance and resolve issues. Offer a coherent explanation when disputing any inaccurate review. Remember, it’s hard to gain trust but very easy to lose it. Never hesitate to apologize when needed. You could take the conversation offline, and build rapport and trust with the reviewer.
- Request for a ‘second chance’ – Request really unhappy customers to give you a second chance, and make sure that you deliver on your promise. Be quick to respond, in a matter of minutes. People have lost millions for not responding promptly as it looks like they are rejecting/ignoring the review. Know when to give up on a conversation which refuses to pick up, but make sure that disinterested observers can clearly see that you tried.
- Do a quick hashtag search at regular intervals to catch the chatter about your business. Better still, assign a dedicated employee/team to ensure that no comment goes unattended.
How to thing about your own Online Reputation Management team?
Among the things one needs to consider before putting together a team for managing their online reputation would be:
- The volume of reputational issues which need to be handled or responded to. Establish a baseline value for reputational issues by number and frequency.
- The general nature of these issues and the typical process followed in resolving them.
- Coverage of time & other SLAs: 24/7, Weekdays, any other
How about using an Online Reputation Management platform?
But, first, what about a Reputation Management Tool? These tools constantly monitor all the online chatter using a keyword-based search to zone in any mention of a specific name to see what is being said about them and by whom. If you already have a reputation management tool, carefully track its capabilities and measure what it can accomplish. To illustrate, here are some questions you can ask:
- What sources are covered by the tool? Can it follow all the chatter happening anywhere on the World Wide Web or just some platforms?
- Does it analyse the data collected and provide you with insights which are actionable?
- Does it provide you with user analytics, like influence score for a particular commenter, or provide insight into demographics and further segregate it by geography? After all, like filter coffee in South India, reviews change by location too.
- Do you get alerts when your brand is mentioned? Are they received in real time?
- How many seats do you have and what is your expenditure on deploying this product? How about planning the future, when you may need more seats?
All these considerations should help to clarify your thoughts as you put a team together to monitor or manage your online reputation. Broadly speaking, we can say:
- A small to mid-sized business can live with a one-person team reporting to a CMO.
- A public limited company needs to have at least a couple of seats as following news coverage is very important. Unfavorable news coverage can immediately have a negative impact on its stock prices.
- A company which is consumer facing and deals with essential products and services needs a large team of customer service representatives dedicated to ORM. They should also have analysts to crunch the data and reports and figure out a corrective action after each incident. A well planned hierarchy should be put in place. Key metrics such as complaints handled/hour, TAT on issues, escalation measures should all be put in place. A support desk integration with the ORM platform helps with such high-volume incidents.
To quote Publilius Syrus, “A good reputation is more valuable than money”. Do guard it well.
Reportedly, about 84% of people are supposed to rely on online reviews over personal recommendations as unbiased opinions fit to base their decisions upon. This makes it extremely important for companies to monitor and manage their reputation at all times. See that you put yours in place and empower them by providing them with access to a reliable social listening tool, like Auris.