The Internet has opened a whole new world for businesses in any industry. Whether you are an electrician, a financial advisor, or an eBook author, you have a place on the Internet. In fact, beyond that, you should consider a web presence absolutely vital. Why is that? Quite simply, people don’t “let their fingers do the walking” anymore. Very rarely do you find anyone who pulls out the yellow pages or a phone book to find a business. Instead, they search via Google, Bing or Yahoo. Alternatively, trawl though social media and see what other people have to say about different businesses.
Thanks to the Internet, you now have access more potential customers than ever before. And, relatively speaking, you can save a lot of money. Advertising on the Internet will deliver a greater return on investment than buying ads in phone books, renting a billboard, or printing and sending out flyers. So, yes, in many ways, this is a positive progression for any business owner. However, there can be negative consequences to this if you aren’t careful.
Access Means Access for Everyone
The Internet has turned conversing with your customer’s into a two-way street. It is no longer the case that businesses publish their messages and that’s it. They now have to be receptive of what their customers are saying about their brand online. Customers now have a way to find out information about you and it’s certainly much easier to damage your reputation if they so choose.
Thanks to the Internet, a person need only log on and leave a scathing review on your business Facebook page to seriously damage to your reputation.
So, what is the answer? Word of mouth still reigns supreme, even in today’s connected world. People want to know how others have enjoyed business with you. The vast majority of consumers will rely on customer reviews to inform their decision more than any other outlet. That means the fact that customer reviews are readily available online allows you to provide consumers with more information than ever before.
There is a downfall to this too though.
It should come as no surprise, but there are plenty of businesses who will use less than ethical methods to boost their company – this includes fake reviews. They can easily pay someone to log on and leave them positive reviews or they may simply write the fake information themselves. And, more and more, consumers are aware of this.
As a result, it is hard to get people to trust your customer reviews. They are wary that the reviews they are reading are just “too good to be true.” We need to explore methods of regaining their trust because it’s crucial that you do.
Handling Negative Responses
Here’s the first thing that you need to understand. A negative response is not an immediate reputation killer. Every business that has ever existed will have experienced some form of negative feedback. A consumer leaving you less than stellar feedback will not kill your business, as long as you handle it the right way that is.
Do not, under any circumstances, delete negative reviews unless you have a valid reason and are prepared to explain why it was deleted. If word gets out that you do this, then you will immediately lose trust. Why should anyone believe in a business if they do something underhanded like this? Additionally, many consumers will lose trust if they log on and see only extremely positive feedback. They don’t like the idea that everything just looks too perfect.
So, what do you do with negativity? You must respond to it. A quick and professional response is the best way to avoid losing trust and to avoid damage to your reputation. That’s because a response accomplishes a few things:
- It could appease the customer who wrote the negative review in the first place so that they end up revising their comments.
- It will show other customers that you care enough about your business and your clients to respond.
- It will indicate that you are willing to go the extra mile in order to ensure your customers are happy.
The first step in building trust is to leave those reviews in place and respond to them carefully, professionally, and apologetically.
Always Be Transparent
The best way to show authenticity for your reviews is to be as transparent as possible. Some people have tried making it so that any review has to be approved by the business, but this will not encourage customer feedback in the first place. Keep your platform open and encourage reviews. That way, you will actually get more responses, and the more you have, the more authentic they will look as well.
And, thanks to technology, this is easier than ever. Facebook now has a review section for businesses where customers can leave reviews directly from their profile. This will add to the credibility and authenticity of the reviews that are being left. Many third party review sites will also ask users to verify their accounts by connecting it to a social media platform to ensure authenticity.
As a business owner, you certainly do live in a golden age thanks to the Internet. You have easier access to more potential customers than you could have possibly reached during the pre-digital era. Once upon a time, you could send out flyers and cross your fingers. And, that meant you were quite limited. These days, you can use social media, websites, blogs, local searches, and even digital advertisements to get more attention for your business. However, you have to maintain a positive reputation online, and that includes ensuring people can trust your reviews. Word of mouth and information from past customers will certainly make or break your chances of building a business, but it won’t matter if people don’t trust the customer feedback you have to offer. So, follow this advice to build trust and you can expect your online reviews to go the extra mile.
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