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Managing Your Online Reputation

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Managing Your

Online

Reputation

Created for Carrier Dealers in Northern California

© 2012, Sigler Wholesale Distributors

Sigler Sigler

Wholesale Distributors

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Introduction

So much of the world today exists online and it’s very easy for people to post information about you and your

business. Whether it’s true or not, potential consumers may be using that information when considering whether or not to hire you. That’s why it’s critical that you manage your online reputation.

Additionally, many homeowners are using various online websites to find a phone number or company website.

Managing your online profiles ensures that an unscrupulous contractor doesn’t register their phone number or website under your company profile.

While there are a growing number of places consumers may post reviews, Angie’s List, Yelp and Google are probably the most popular in our industry.

ang

Created by a homeowner in Indianapolis, Angie's List is a word-of-mouth network with more than 1.5 million paying members. While consumers must pay for the service, there is no cost for businesses to create and maintain their company profile. Start at https://business.angieslist.com/default.aspx. Angie’s List also has various advertising programs available. For more information, check out

http://business.angieslist.com/visitor/advertising.

Yelp

A public company based in San Francisco, Yelp is a platform for consumers to share information about the businesses in their community. Probably a more popular site for restaurant reviews, Yelp is becoming increasingly more popular for home service companies as well. It’s free for both consumers and business.

Start at https://biz.yelp.com/signup. Yelp also has various advertising programs available. For more information, check out https://biz.yelp.com/support/advertising.

Google

While advertising on the world’s most popular website can be confusing and expensive, listing your business is easy and free. Start at https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=lbc. Google also has various advertising programs available, but we recommend a company like Sequoia to help provide a search engine marketing solution. For more information, check out http://www.sequoiaims.com.

All three of these sites have a similar process – create an account, link it to your business listing (which may already exist), modify your profile and respond to any reviews. It’s always a good idea to add as much information as possible to your online profiles. Remember, consumers may be viewing this page before they pick up the phone and call you – use it to sell yourself!

This document only focuses on only a few places where consumers are likely to post reviews. Additionally, you may wish to create a Google Alerts for your company. With this free service, you will receive email alerts whenever Google finds a document on the web which matches your search query. You can create these alerts at

http://www.google.com/alerts.

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Secrets to Getting Great Online Reviews

Pay attention to the reviews you already have

It may sound obvious, but you can’t generate good reviews (at least not legally) unless you have happy customers to write them. No amount of asking for user reviews or soliciting feedback will help compensate for a bad first

impression. Start by making sure to resolve any issues that particularly bother your customers if you possibly can.

Consider asking for reviews

Not good reviews -- just reviews – and not until the end of the transaction. You don’t want to be pushy, but after you’ve delivered a service or product, it makes sense to ask that they review it on Google, or Yelp, for instance. Let them know that your company takes their opinions seriously and checks that feedback daily.

Respond quickly to bad reviews

Resist the urge to defend your company, product, or employee, an approach that almost always makes things worse.

The key is not to fire back at the customer, the key is to examine the problem and resolve it. Also, if a bad review is warranted, thank the customer for the review and apologize for the bad experience. We find a customer will often go back and update a negative review once the issue has been resolved, so you can turn a negative into a positive if you act quickly.

Reach out to negative reviewers directly

Not everyone recommends responding publicly to bad reviews. If you can find the reviewer, contract them directly and try to resolve the issue. If it’s thoughtful, constructive feedback, maybe offer them a refund, or free service - as a resolution to their concern.

Remember, it’s a numbers game

The more reviews you get, the more likely you are to get one or more bad reviews. Even if you are providing the best product or service you can, some people will tend to

complain. So your goal should be a large number of mostly good reviews.

Make reviewing as easy as possible

Put your review links on your website, invoices, emails, etc. so customers can easily find your company on review properties.

This section is adapted from an article on Inc.com – an online magazine for small business ideas and resources.

The full text is at http://www.inc.com/ss/7-secrets-to-getting-great-online-reviews.

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Responding to Online Reviews

Responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with one of your most vocal customers.

However, contacting reviewers should be approached with care; internet messaging is a blunt tool and sometimes good intentions come across badly. Keep these three things in mind as you're crafting a message to your customer:

Your reviewers are your paying customers

Your reviewers are human beings with (sometimes unpredictable) feelings and sensitivities Your reviewers are vocal and opinionated (otherwise they would not be writing reviews!)

The best way to manage your company’s reputation is to stay active on these websites and monitor the reports being filed. Respond to both favorable and unfavorable reports as many potential customers use the company’s response in their own hiring decision. Even with a bad report, your willingness to address the situation directly and offer an explanation reflects positively on your business practices.

Responding to a Positive Review

Responding to positive reviews should be easy, right? It does sound easy, but it's also surprisingly easy to get this wrong. When contacting a positive reviewer, your purpose should be simply to deliver a human thank you and let them know you care. That's it. No gift certificates. No mailing lists. No event invites. No reactions to the minor complaint in their review. No requests for them to tell more friends about your business.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but just try to put yourself in the reviewer's shoes and think about whether you would really want anything other than a simple thank you. While a gift or invitation sounds like a nice idea, it can also be mis-interpreted as a bribe or payment for the review. Remember, this customer already likes your business – just use this opportunity to thank them and introduce yourself.

Responding to a negative review

This is hard. Before responding to a negative review, take a deep breath and think very carefully about what you are going to write. Or even better, don't think too much: just keep it simple by thanking your customer for the patronage and feedback.

Negative reviews can feel like a punch in the gut. We care deeply about our business too, and it hurts when someone says bad things about our business. If you’re the owner, it may even feel like a personal attack. The good news is that by contacting your reviewer and establishing a genuine human relationship, you have a chance to help the situation and maybe even change this customer's perspective for the better. While there are success stories from business owners who were polite to their reviewers and were accordingly given a second chance, be very careful. If your reviewer perceives that you are being rude, condescending or disingenuous in any way, there's a chance he or she could get angry and make the situation even worse. Keep in mind that this is a vocal customer who could well copy and paste your message all over the web.

Both Yelp and Angie’s List have resources available to help you respond to an online review. This section is adapted from those articles. The full text is at https://biz.yelp.com/support/responding_to_reviewsand also

http://business.angieslist.com/Visitor/News/BusinessTipDetail.aspx?i=15.

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Responding to Online Reviews (continued)

Whatever the predicament, the way you handle the situation will determine whether you can regain their trust and keep them as customers, or lose them and all their referral business as well. Anticipate what might go wrong and empower your staff to offer an immediate resolution. Remember, speed counts here so make every effort to respond as soon as possible. Because the “customer is always right” is still a weighty sentiment, don’t be afraid to say, “We made a mistake, and I’m sorry.” Also, keep the customer updated as to the status of their complaint and what is being done to correct the problem. Most importantly, use the complaint and remedy as a training technique so your

employees can avoid the situation in the future.

So just keep your message simple: thank you for the business and the feedback. If you can be specific about the customer's experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go very far in earning trust.

Posting a Public Comment

Public comments are a way for business owners to add a helpful comment to a user's review. Additionally, responding to reviewers' concerns shows that you value their feedback and that you're always striving to improve. In your

response, keep it simple and polite. Be honest and address any business changes that were made based on their feedback.

You can use Public Comments to tell the community what you've done to address a specific concern raised by a reviewer, provide correct information when a review contains inaccurate or outdated information, or provide your version of a difficult situation when you're unable to resolve a dispute through private messaging. Remember to be polite and stick to facts since your comments are public and can be seen by potential customers. Please don't use public comments to launch personal attacks, advertise, or offer an incentive to change a review.

What if a review is completely false? It’s probably best to resolve issues like this through private messaging. If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your case as simply and politely as possible, and do not attack the reviewer under any circumstances. Remember that potential customers will be reading your comment and you want to leave them with a positive impression of your business.

Sometimes it's to your advantage not to comment at all. If you're upset, you might write something that will reflect poorly on your business. Wait until you've had some time to think about a review; there may be legitimate concerns brought up in the review that you can address in a constructive way.

If you want to thank someone for a positive review, send a private message instead. Comments that simply thank users without providing new information can be perceived as overbearing.

Both Yelp and Angie’s List have resources available to help you respond to an online review. This section is adapted from those articles. The full text is at https://biz.yelp.com/support/responding_to_reviewsand also

http://business.angieslist.com/Visitor/News/BusinessTipDetail.aspx?i=15.

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Building Trust with Your Customers

The BBB Code of Business Practices represents sound advertising, selling and customer service practices that enhance customer trust and confidence in business. The Code is built on eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.

1. Build Trust – Establish and maintain a positive track record in the marketplace.

2. Advertise Honestly – Adhere to established standards of advertising and selling.

3. Tell the Truth – Honestly represent products and services, including clear and adequate disclosures of all material terms.

4. Be Transparent – Openly identify the nature, location, and ownership of the business, and clearly disclose all policies, guarantees and procedures that bear on a customer’s decision to buy.

5. Honor Promises – Abide by all written agreements and verbal representations.

6. Be Responsive – Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith.

7. Safeguard Privacy – Protect any data collected against mishandling and fraud, collect personal information only as needed, and respect the preferences of customers regarding the use of their information.

8. Embody Integrity – Approach all business dealings, marketplace transactions and commitments with integrity.

This section is adapted from the Better Business Bureau.

The full text is at http://www.bbb.org/us/bbb-accreditation-standards/.

References

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