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How socially savvy are you when it comes to the Internet? Are you clued in to the thoughts and remarks your customers may be sharing about your company online?
Check it out. Enter your company’s name, followed by the word “reviews,” into a Google search. You may be surprised at the results.
Websites such as Angieslist.com, MerchantCircle.com, Yahoo.com, Kudzu.com, Yelp.com, and many more offer forums for customers to post reviews and ratings. Many of these websites don’t require users to validate their identities, thus allowing anonymous reviewers free rein.
As a result, faceless commenters will often leave malevolent comments, regardless if they are justified or not. These remarks may have surfaced following a customer-contractor disagreement, or may simply be the opinion of an unruly individual.
While there is a chance these comments may have been left by genuine customers, anonymous remarks are just as likely to have come from a local competitor (in an attempt to get a leg-up on the competition).
Don’t let these negative reviewers destroy the squeaky-clean image you’ve worked so hard to project. First, you need to contact each of these review websites, one by one, and “claim” your company’s local listing.
Once you claim your listing, you gain the ability to monitor comments. If reviews are nonsensical and virulent, you may simply choose to delete them. However, as a sensible business owner, you’ll likely want to respond to all legit negative reviews in a positive fashion. Rather than addressing negative comments immediately, allow yourself some time to cool off, and retain a polite, positive manner. Offer an explanation, if possible, and a possible resolution, if warranted.
While they may inflict great harm, review sites do offer a great upside as well. Following each completed job, it is very important to remind each customer to share his or her positive remarks online. Encourage them to be truthful and to include their real names on the forums (using real names adds authenticity). Offer a future discount or upgraded service in turn for a positive review.
Once four, or six, or a dozen of these positive remarks surface on the websites, customers will soon recognize your company as one that can be trusted. At the very least, they’ll put your name at the top of their contact list. Potential consumers aren’t going to contact you if six individuals — regardless if they are real or not — bash your ability to adequately complete a job.
So, surf on over to Google and make sure your company’s performance hasn’t been beaten to a pulp. Your online reputation may play a big part in your future success.