Why Online Reputation and Customer Reviews Matter

Edge Team
October 12, 2022
min read
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Customer feedback and online reviews matter, especially when it comes to your brand reputation. A sad truth, but we trust what we hear more from social media than we do from people. This goes for both online and offline businesses.

We rely on social media to do our research. TikTok is becoming one of the fastest growing platforms where Gen Z absorb and digest information, scouring for the latest updates. It's easy to build a digital reputation, yet harder to manage and maintain it. Once we get negative comments – whether on Facebook or Google Reviews– these cannot be deleted or edited by the brand manager.

So, how can you improve your brand's online reputation, monitor negative reviews and get more positive reviews all at the same time? Buckle up: let’s get down to business.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management (ORM) simply refers to how a company or brand is perceived by the public. One study by Fombrun & Van Riel in 2003 looked into the psychology of business reputation in the corporate world. They defined reputation as: "the overall esteem  in which a company is held by its constituents”.

In layman's terms, it’s how you control and present your company’s reputation. And how this is perceived in the eyes of your customers, investors and the media.

ORM is like the PR of the online world. Usually, the person that handles these issues will have an online reputation management strategy, and can usually find a way to turn the bad into good.

Why is an online reputation important for business?

Your brand's reputation online can make or break potential new business. You only need to take a look at online reviews on TripAdvisor or Google Reviews to see how this can affect businesses. We've all done it, spotted negative search results with poor customer feedback leaving a bad taste in our mouth. See it, read it, block it, right?

However, it gets even harder to win over new potential customers due to the rapid growth and eternal presence of social media. This is where online reputation management comes in; you need to be able to filter negative feedback with authenticity. Improving your brand's online image has never been more important than now.

Whether you decide to invest in an online reputation management company, or just do the hard graft for yourself, we've put together some simple tips to keep your company in control. Ready to hit the home run?

How to cultivate a positive online reputation

First and foremost, cultivating an online reputation is not about creating a perfect profile. In fact, this is less trustworthy in the eyes of social psychology – and we’ll go into this more deeply soon.

Create positive content

One of the easiest ways you can start improving your current online reputation is through content, influencing your brand's search results. This gives your personal branding the boost it needs.

Start with a run-down of your company profile on the About Us page – arguably the most important page on your website. In fact, research by KoMarketing discovered that 52% of respondents skip straight to the "About Us" page to learn more about the company.

Research top questions in your industry or niche and provide high-value content. Sit down and dig into your competitors' approach: what are they doing that you could replicate and do better?

Use this information to build a strategy of writing useful content. This then builds your reputation as not just the best place to buy your product or service, but also as experts and thought leaders in your industry.

Producing more positive content like this helps to water down or bury those negative search results. There are only ten results on page one of Google’s SERPs. So, this works as a way of balancing out your brand's image.

Provide a high-quality service

According to James Jacobi (Founder of Ascend Advisers), ORM is really about how you build a relationship with your customers and provide value to them.

The key is to focus on loyalty, which will produce a positive sentiment. Encourage customers to trust you by being honest, admit to mistakes and welcome any feedback. If you promise to do something, honor that promise.

A classic example is if you tell a customer you'll call them at 10am sharp. If you're late to the appointment, give them warning. Respect is what will drive your business's reputation and encourage those customers to return again and again.

Invest in strategies to win positive reviews

Although we may have been really happy with the service, it won’t cross most people’s minds to leave a review – especially if there's no incentive. However, a survey by BrightLocal found that 67% of people are likely to leave a positive review after a positive interaction.

Google reviews are essential for most service-based businesses. They can accelerate your brand's search results and improve ranking in Google (or other search engines). BrightLocal's findings also reveal that 89% of people are highly likely to collaborate with brands who respond to their online reviews. It proves you're real, not a faceless robot behind a screen. This creates empathy, and therefore, trust.

Not only does this improve your search engine optimization, but it also enhances your brand’s reputation.

Asking for reviews, however, is unethical. It’s more about an invitation to provide positive feedback. We suggest the following approaches:

How did we do?

Would you recommend us to a friend?

Would you use this service again?

Stuck for ideas? Edge can work with you to win positive reviews that are real and valuable. Get your brand online loud and proud with effective online review management that actually works.

Social media monitoring and review management

As mentioned, content lives forever. So that negative review or comment on a post could be seen by millions of potential customers. Perhaps a customer was annoyed with the service or a product took too long to arrive. How do you respond to that?

Firstly, you definitely don't ignore it! You also don't go in guns blazing. Adopt this 3-step approach instead:

Read carefully: what is the customer feedback? Is there validity in their claims?

Check the social media accounts with your customer list: Are they a real customer or a bot? Track their order or booking with your CRM.

Reply with caution: acknowledge the damage or disappointment caused, explain how you’ve learned from it and thank them. This can help to win back the customer. Or show others who read your reviews that you have operated in a professional and courteous manner.

Leading marketing tool, Hubspot, is a great example of how you can respond to negative social comments and turn it into positive feedback. It's crisis management in action!

Also remember that many customer interactions take place on social media platforms. Whether it's Facebook or Instagram direct messages, you need to be on the ball to reply.

As humans we grow more and more impatient; we expect immediate replies and the ability to track orders in real time. To build a positive reputation, make sure that you're scheduling time to reply to any messages and engage with your community. Showing customers you care can help you stand out from a direct competitor.

Set up Google alerts

The old adage "my ears are burning – someone must be talking about me" can now be translated into a ping from Google. If you set up Google alerts, you'll be able to track and know what is being said about your brand, who is saying it and where it appears.

Simply set up the keywords in Google alerts, tracking your brand name, products you sell, services you provide, business you're partnered with etc. You'll get a live alert when your brand has been mentioned, whether it's via news sites or negative reviews. Now you can respond to online conversations happening about your brand ASAP.

Happy staff = retention = good online reputation

If you’re not investing time and money into the happiness of your employees, this could harm your brand’s reputation. One study found that employee retention was owed to rewards and recognition, supervisory support and income. However, if staff feel undervalued, disrespected, undermined or work in a toxic work space, they’re more likely to pack up their bags pronto.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor found that 8 million people quit their jobs between April and July 2021. To go further, of each employee that leaves, it costs 30% of their salary to make up the loss. Employee turnover costs companies billions – and it can be prevented, to a degree.

Everyone likes getting a compliment; it makes us feel warm and fuzzy. The same applies to a corporate setting. But if you’re not given that respect or validation, especially for your hard labor, it can feel demeaning.

That’s why it’s important to also gain reviews to keep staff happy. Regardless of the job role, if they’re a waiter or a sales representative, feedback is an essential element that keeps us motivated. Remember, people need a little push to incentivize them, and we’ve got several tips to help you get authentic positive reviews for staff that will elevate your brand’s reputation.

Take a look at what employees say about working at Apple inc, for example. You could cultivate this environment, too, improving your online reputation in the process. It just takes a little TLC.

Regular audit of your business and website

When was the last time you ran an audit on your site? If you’re sat there twiddling your thumbs, it’s probably been too long. Start scheduling a regular site audit on your agenda ASAP. Letting things slip through the radar will be a huge price to pay.

For one, a regular audit helps refresh content to keep it current and stay in Mr. Google’s good books. Running a data analysis will help you identify broken links, 404 pages and make sure consumers can navigate search results easily to locate you. This enhances your search engine optimization (SEO) so you can manage expectations better.

Leaving something on the shelf will get dusty. The same goes for your online reputations. Revamping your SEO strategy is the key to bring it back to life.

Understanding your audience

Did you know that consumers don’t trust a 5-star rating? A recent study between PowerReviews and Northwestern University found that the ideal and most trustworthy rating was between 4.2 to 4.5.

Naturally, the more reviews you have, the better. Although the important factor is how well this aggregates across the board. Therefore, understanding your audience is an underrated factor in how you build relationships, create content and grow your online presence.

Share similar community values

A big factor to consider is showing up in online conversations. Brand reputation owes just as much to the partners we collaborate with and the consumers who buy from us. It’s important to be an ally in situations, comment on world issues and stand up against discrimination.

In order to engage effectively, you need a strong brand presence and voice. This is where your social media marketing comes into action. Making a regular effort to post and engage with content on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will enable you to build a repertoire of positive sentiment.

Long story short

A bad online reputation can override great products or services.

The key to managing and improving your online reputation is to monitor social media platforms, filter and respond to brand mentions in Google Reviews and acquire more positive reviews.

How you respond and engage with reviews can push away or win over potential customers in a form of reputation protection.

Using reputation management services like Edge can transform your entire online presence without the fuss. This includes staff reviews to customer feedback and more.

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