Every day, more and more people are taking to the Internet business opportunities. As this happens, online reputation is increasingly becoming an important factor when potential customers consider to purchase a product or service.
In the past, businesses relied on word of mouth or traditional marketing efforts in order to establish, build, and maintain their reputation, but with the advent of and social media and review sites, the online (and offline) standing of a business is massively influenced by what they hear and read on these sites. Reputation is essential to a business’ survival and with the immediate feedback and information that customers receive each day, it is paramount that your business should have and maintain a positive reputation.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly how online reputation can affect and earn the trust of your customers.
It’s as Good as Personal Recommendations
Online reputation is primarily built from reviews and according to a 2013 survey of Brightlocal, 79% of their 3,600 respondents “trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” However, authenticity of the reviews is a key factor whether customers will trust the business or not.
Reviews are pooled opinions of people who have tried a product/ service and when future customers plan to purchase what you’re selling, reading it has become a part of their pre-purchase research.
Such is the case, before anyone criticizes your business on review sites such as Yelp, always treat your customers as you would want to be treated. You must strive to meet or even exceed their expectations from the onset so that at the end of the process, their experience will be seamless.
It Provides Transparency for your Customers
In today’s digital world, everything that happens is recorded and uploaded on the Internet—whether the post is derogatory or complimentary, it might go viral. This has already affected some establishments for the worse.
Being online means that you should also be prepared for whatever your customers might throw at you. It is critical that you should be honest, open-minded, and upfront about any issues you or your business may face.
If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize, and ensure your customers that you will never do it again. To err is human and customers don’t expect your business to be perfect (no one is, anyway); they just want you to be honest and transparent—and this means not betraying their trust or covering up your mistakes. Ultimately, they want to see you taking responsibility for any shortcomings and find ways to remedy inconvenient situations.
It Conveys your Best Stories
Good online reputation tells the best stories to your customers. A quick look at review sites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp will give customers an idea of how you treat previous ones. Your reputation is built through the stories of the people who have tried your product/service—and nothing is more convincing than stories from “real” people.
Online reputation is free advertising so make the best out of it. Always consider the possibility that customers will write a review and add credibility to your business. This can go a long way, so strive to create industry leading products and customer service.
It Increases your Brand/Company Visibility
Most users don’t go past the first page in Google when looking for specific companies or brand. Aside from search engine optimization (SEO), better online reputation will also give you good visibility on search engines.
With this in mind, when people see your business name on the first page of search results, they will trust you more compared to not seeing your name in any of the pages at all. When your site or business is more visible on the Internet, gathering information about your business is easier thus; your customers will think that you are trustworthy and relevant.
It’s a Way for you to Respond to your Customers Immediately
More than review sites, social media is another place where most customers look into when finding a product or service. Feedback is instantaneous in these sites so take this as an opportunity to connect and address your customer’s concerns. Showing that you care about their concerns and taking in their feedback are great ways of winning their good side.
According to The Retail Consumer Report in 2011, 33% of customers who received a reply in response to their negative review had a change of heart and posted a positive one; and 34% deleted their original negative review. In today’s digital world, showing that you care is rewarded positively.
When you respond to your customers immediately, it further nurtures your relationships and it adds value to their experience…, and that’s how you gain their trust.
Remember why online reputation is important for your business:
- It’s the closest thing you have online to word-of-mouth
- It provides unbiased point of views from customers therefore gaining the trust of other future customers
- Online reputation portrays you at your best
- It’s a way for your business/brand to connect instantly with your customers
- Online visibility is the first thing that customers check when looking for a specific product, brand or service.
No matter how “good-looking” you are in the digital space, you cannot please everybody all the time, but if you have a good product/service and create unmatched customer experiences, reviews and praises from customers will come naturally. This will add credibility to your brand and eventually, you’ll earn their trust.