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Getting negative reviews, in a word, sucks. You’re going about your business, working every day to sell your fares and pay the bills. Then, one day you wake up to find a one-star rating and scathing comments about your business; about you.

At this point, you’ll want to do everything you can to get that review removed. “But it’s just not true!” you’ll exclaim as you call Google’s customer service line, begging them to remove it.

Getting that negative mark on your reputation can feel soul-crushing. After all, you’ve heard the horror stories; small businesses closing up shop because their bad reputation preceded them. You’d do just about anything to keep that from happening.

As consumers rely on the Internet more and more to shop around, companies – and small businesses in particular – have been struggling to keep up, changing and improving their practices to make sure their online reputation isn’t tarnished. In a world where every customer service query and every mess-up can go instantly viral, we’re all doing the best we can to keep up.

That’s where online reputation management comes in. The idea is to purposefully maintain your online reputation so that, even when a negative review comes in (which is bound to happen – no matter how well you do business), your small business will continue to thrive.

The thing is, this management is a practice – and practice means spending time every day working to improve it. Here’s what you can do starting today to manage your online reputation as a small business.

  1. Develop a realistic strategy and monitor mentions
  2. Audit your reputation and customer service practices
  3. Make it easy for the customer to share their insights

1. Develop a realistic strategy and monitor mentions

[image_with_animation image_url=”23236″ alignment=”center” animation=”None” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”]Managing your online reputation is a daily chore. But just because you do it every day doesn’t mean it should take up much time or valuable resources. After all, as a small business owner, you don’t have much of either to spare.

Yet, even putting a small strategy in place will help make sure you’re always prepared to keep your brand in check.

Set aside 10-15 minutes every day to do any number of the following tasks:

  • Respond to any reviews that recently came in (i.e. Amazon, Google, Yelp, etc.)
  • Review your social media channels for any new comments, retweets, or messages and respond.
  • Make sure there are no outstanding customer inquiries
  • Monitor any mentions of your brand name using tools like Google Alerts, Mention (pictured above), or BrandYourself

As you’re responding to reviews, you may be tempted only to respond to the positive ones. Yet, it’s just as important – if not more so – to put time into the negative ones, as well. You can find more information on how to do this here.

While you’re responding to social media comments, you should also make sure your tone is consistent and on-brand. Use language your customers relate to and don’t be afraid to use emojis and hashtags if it fits within your brand strategy. The point here is to be as human as possible.

2. Audit your reputation and customer service practices

One of the many benefits of small businesses like yours is their customer service is usually on point. If you ask a pet owner why they prefer going to their local pet store rather than a big box, they’re likely to tell you, “they know my (and my pet’s) name.”

Maintaining a high level of customer service is a major component of managing your reputation as a whole – both on and offline. When customers interact with you, they’re not likely to remember what they bought from you; but they will remember how you made them feel.

As your business grows and evolves, it’s important to take time every few months to review your customer service practices and make sure everything is still running as smoothly as possible. Think about:

  • What positive things are people saying about our current customer service practices (i.e. responding quickly, good listening, custom-tailored services, etc.) and how can we do more of that?
  • What negative things are people saying about our current customer service practices (i.e. low-quality service, lack of communication, etc.) and how can we improve that?

To get this information, the best place to turn is your customer feedback and insights. Go through your online reviews and even reach out to a few recent customers and ask them to leave their thoughts.

As you comb through your online feedback, take some time to audit your business as well. Go through your content 1-2 times a year to check:

  • Are all of your marketing materials up-to-date and saying what you want them to say about your business?
  • Is your website content out-of-date and is it telling the right story?
  • Is your brand voice consistent across all platforms – social, website, print, etc.?
  • Are there old tweets, Facebook photos, or Instagram posts that could be taken the wrong way?

Before you can work on improving your online reputation, it’s crucial to go back and make sure your previous life isn’t going to come back and haunt you.

3. Make it easy for the customer to share their insights

As your business grows and becomes successful, you’re going to find yourself with customers who both love and hate you. In other words, you’ll start getting more negative reviews than you’d like.

If you take the time to manage your reputation now, you will end up with a lot more positive feedback. Most of the time, you won’t be able to get a customer to Remove an image from google or alter their review. In this case, the best way to boost your reputation is to get as many positive reviews as you can.

To do this, all you have to do is:

  1. Ask nicely
  2. Make it easy to say yes

When asking your customers for feedback, remember to make it as natural and conversational as possible. This way, your customer feels as though a friend is asking them – rather than an awkward salesperson. No one wants the latter.

Then, once you’ve got them to say “yes”, you have to make it as easy as possible to follow through. Once people get busy, the last thing on their mind will be leaving their critique.

Send them a link directly to the page you want to be reviewed straight to their phone. That way, they can take care of it before even leaving your front door.With our app, it’s easy to send a link to the review right on the spot, even if you operate in multiple locations. Once your employees have downloaded it, they can send a custom link to your customers’ phones within seconds of completing their transaction.

Not only does this give you a better chance of getting that Google review even before they leave, but you will also be able to capitalize on the personal connection that your employees have established with the customer.

Download the free app and start using it for your business today. 

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