The internet has significantly changed the way we do business. If it weren’t for the internet, many businesses wouldn’t be in operation today. It is amazing how customers can come from all around the globe, and they can shop anywhere in the world – in their pajamas – 24 hours a day. But, with this change in business has come another kind of change. Unfortunately these days, it is just as it is easy to order a tropical fish from the coast of Jamaica direct to your door as it is to ruin the online reputation of the company who sent it.
In the past, businesses were subject to unknown newspaper and magazine critics from time to time who could publish a negative review to their limited audience. Also, an angry customer could contact the Better Business Bureau and a review would be published and available to any who took the time to check up on a particular company.
But, with the internet, it is possible for a simple mistake to spiral out of control. Now, anyone can easily be a critic and write reviews on their personal blogs, public forums or social media pages. Additionally, many online review websites offer consumers the ability to post on their pages. Over 36 million reviews have been written on Yelp since their beginning. Angie’s List, another business review site, has more than 40,000 customer reviews each month.
According to a recent survey, 84% of Americans say online reviews influence what they buy. Generally, viewers won’t look past the first page when searching online for your business, so it is imperative that you have positive reviews of your site within the first 10 postings.
How do you manage your reputation when anyone can be a critic?
Managing your online reputation starts with monitoring the chatter about your business. Perform your own online searches of your business using various keywords and phrases consumers might use. How do you stack up? If the top ten results are all positive, you are in good shape. But, to be on the safe side, take a peek at the next 20 listings. Search results are constantly changing, and within a matter of hours or days the 15th posting could easily be bumped up to the top ten. If the first 30 postings are mostly positive, consider it good enough. If not, there are several steps you can take.
If you come across some reviews that are less than favorable, try not to let it get under your skin. The last thing you want to do is reply with something snarky and sarcastic. Instead, allow yourself a moment to cool off and respond in a respectful manner. Remember, the world will be seeing this interaction. You may choose to write a public response or take care of the matter in private with the critic.
Yelp allows you to set up a free account in order to communicate with customers who have written reviews. This ability to interact offers you an opportunity to attempt to correct a mistake in hopes the customer will change their posting.
Claims taken up with the Better Business Bureau can be resolved via arbitration. The BBB employs a panel of 1,700 professional arbitrators who provide hearings to settle solutions to consumer issues. However, they are not able to help your business if a bad review has been written on the internet.
PeopleClaim.com is an online service which acts as a mediator in the rectification of unfair reviews and ratings in any form of damaging online content. This website levels the playing field by allowing a business to challenge what has been maliciously written online and your claim with the offender remains posted until the negative content is removed or changed to your satisfaction.
For better or worse, the internet has changed the way we do business. Make sure the way it has changed your business is for the better.
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