What happens online stays online. That’s the adage of digital life in the 21st century. This is doubly true for businesses, especially small businesses for whom their reputation is everything. So how do you go about managing your reputation and keep your sanity as a small business owner? Follow these tips below.
Monitor your digital media. The best way to stay on top of your online reputation is to monitor all your digital media. This includes social media, reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau. Take inventory of every site your business has a presence on and monitor how you are doing on those sites. Be sure to respond to reviews and queries in a timely manner and ensure that all your contact information is up to date.
Have a conversation. The best way to leave a lasting positive impact with past and potential customers is to have an open dialogue with them. Let your customers know you are listening and want to know what they have to say. Ask questions so they can be involved in the conversation and know they are an important part of your community.
Handling negative comments. Negative feedback is a necessary part of your growth as a business. But how you handle that feedback can make or break you. It’s easy to take things personally when you pour your heart and soul into your business, but you must be able to separate yourself from the negative in order to respond in a professional and productive way. Don’t ever ignore or delete negative comments or reviews, as this can be seen as your business trying to “sweep things under the rug” rather than handle the issue. Make sure to respond to any criticism you receive in a way that shows your customer you truly care that they had a negative experience and are willing to find ways to correct that.
Take the conversation offline. If the situation you are handling requires a lot of dialogue, it is best to take the conversation offline, especially if the situation will call for private information such as phone numbers or addresses to be shared. Message your customer privately and carry out your conversation one on one for a much more productive and immediate resolution to any aired grievances.
Offer outlets for constructive criticism. By providing an outlet for your customers to give feedback or submit suggestions, you are inviting constructive criticism that will help your business grow. This will also help cut back on the frustration that a customer might feel after having a less than stellar experience with your business. Encourage your customers to get in touch with your business, either via a survey, email, contact form, or other easy to use outlet. You can also offer incentives to provide this information, such as a giveaway or a gift card to your business. After you collect this information, take it to heart and find ways to take this constructive criticism and mold your customer experience around it.
Be true to yourself. Today’s customer wants an authentic experience. They don’t want to see canned corporate messages or fake platitudes. Make sure your online presence reflects who and what your business truly is. Your authenticity will shine through and your business’s reputation will prosper as a result.