As business owners and management become more aware of the company’s online reputation they will likely encounter some “colorful” reviews and comments. The rise of social media and review sites has given everybody the opportunity to become an editor and have a significant impact the reputation of the business. In the past, to reach a community wide audience it would require getting the story on the evening news or in the local paper. Now the playing field looks very different.
An example of the editor mentality taken to the extreme is the release of the latest round of IPads from Apple. There were numerous reports and stories across the Internet in advance of the release of the IPad mini that attempted to predict all of the particulars about the soon to be released device. Expectations were set by people competing for readers and not the company releasing the product. Immediately after the press conference release of the IPad mini, critics and attendees were ready to share with the world their take on the new product. Some initial comments were negative because they felt the price was too high, however the majority of all mentions were positive.
As in this scenario, reviews and comments are often done in real-time. For a company like Apple, the shear volume of comments, blog posts and article balances out the impact of the outlier reviews. For a small local service provider such as a plumber or roofer, the number potential reviewers is very small. Without a large number of comments and reviews, each review can be much more impactful on the reputation of the business.
It is important for every company to have a consistent approach to responding to any online comment or review. All companies should strive to create a vibrant online community and encourage online interaction. Encouraging reviews and comment by your satisfied customers works best when done naturally. Incorporating social media links on invoices can be an excellent way to encourage happy customers to share their experience online. If your employee has done a good job, then this is an excellent time to capitalize. Another example is to follow up several days or a week later with a thank you email that requests that the customer share their experience at the provided link.
When a business encounters a negative review, it is best to communicate with the unhappy customer offline. Some situations are easy to rectify, however some are not and you do not want draw undue attention to bad reviews. Nothing works better for diminishing the bad experience of a select few than overwhelming positive experience of a majority of your customers. Much like aforementioned example with Apple.