December 10, 2018
know how

The impact of online reviews

Laura DiBenedetto is CEO of Vision Advertising, a Worcester marketing firm established in 1999. Reach her at 508-754-3643.

Building a positive online reputation takes time, effort, and unfortunately can be damaged in minutes. Over the last few years, the popularity of online reviews has risen sharply. These reviews help customers decide where to eat, where to shop, what cities to visit, and who to do business with. Up to 85 percent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Your business' reputation is dependent upon word of mouth, but also the reviews, comments, and overall conversations customers post about their experience.

Don't be surprised if you already have reviews. People begin reviewing when they want to, not when you're ready. Managing those reviews are important. To push your business to the next level, dive into your online presence and follow these strategies to make establishing and maintaining your online presence a priority.

Cultivate a positive online reputation

You must first spread awareness of your business. The best way to do this is through the creation and execution of a strategic marketing plan. Over time, you will organically build a reputation, and when it feels appropriate, partner with your customers, asking them to review your business. Engage with them through social media or face-to-face after they have a great experience with your business. A disguised opportunity awaits you when a customer has a negative experience; this is your chance to shine. By resolving situations like a hero, you're likely to score better, detailed reviews.

Grow your online reputation

Engage with all reviewers, especially when the reviews are negative. It is always valuable to reply and discuss the situation. You may be surprised to learn you can resolve it. It is vital for the reviewer to feel heard, regardless of what they said. With four- and five-star reviews, a simple expression of privately shared thanks will suffice. For reviews with three or less, privately reach out to create dialogue asking more about the situation. Always manage these conversations privately because that builds trust, loyalty, and credibility. It's not necessarily what happened; it's how you respond that counts. Leave your ego at home, don't get defensive, and seek to understand and help. Put your customer first, and you'll always win.

Maintain your positive reputation

Building and maintaining your reputation is easy if you always prioritize building and maintaining customer relationships and open communication between you. The better you treat people, and the better you solve problems, the easier it will be to maintain a positive reputation. Remember, it often includes content creation, social media management, and responding to reviews. I advise carving out time in your schedule each day to work on online reputation. If you're unable to focus on this, I advise you to hire an expert.

Bottom line

Whether you or someone else does it, I can't stress enough how important establishing and maintaining your online reputation is. At the end of the day, online reviews can make or break your business.

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