By Scott Gordon, The Chief Revenue Officer
It seems that today, unlike at any other point in history, everything thing our company has ever done – good, bad, or indifferent – is alive and well on the internet.
Remember that pain in the neck, no matter how much you bent over backwards, there was no making him happy, customer? Well, even if you don’t, the internet does, and his one-sided story about how you failed to execute on the even simplest tasks is being scrutinized by prospective clients as you read this blog.
How about that ex-employee you terminated for cause three years ago for stealing money out of the register or making inappropriate advances on other employees. Well, he’s still holding a grudge and just left you a fake review on Yelp that is sticking for some reason (probably because you’re not currently paying Yelp) and he followed that gem up with a maniacal diatribe on Glassdoor (don’t know what this is? Time you found out) to scare away potential new hires.
Then there’s your unethical competitor that mistakenly believes that if he slanders your business, the universe will somehow send more of it his way. His strategy? Write a bunch of fake reviews that drive your star rating lower than his so he becomes the default choice of internet searchers.
Lastly, there is the statistic that unhappy customers are 11x more likely to share their negative experience both in person and online than happy ones.
I have a client who recently discovered that an ex-employee, who was fired for cause, not only set up his Google Local page, but left a horrendous 1 star review, and locked him, the business owner, out of the his own Google site! He’s currently fighting with Google to regain control of this critical asset.
The fact is that most businesses do not have a reputation strategy in place to manage and mitigate these and other threats that have a material impact on their companies. Even if they do, it’s usually a hodge podge typically consisting of monetary bribes to customers to leave reviews on specified sites that receives little in the way of tracking or follow-up.
Yet bribing customers to leave reviews is not without its consequences as Yelp recently announced an aggressive crackdown on such practices: http://www.xanjero.com/news/yelp-review-solicitation-crack-down-now-more-intense/
So as a business, what are you supposed to do? Sit around and let the fake and negative reviews stack up as your customers race for the exits?
Not at all.
The first step would be to implement a console where you can collect, monitor, and respond to reviews across the universe of sites where they are accumulating. Consolidating this vast array of internet properties in one easy to use interface is critical if you are to get your hands around the problem. The alternative is to monitor them all separately. This is both inefficient, time consuming, and truthfully, will fall through the cracks in most organizations.
Next, this reviews platform should allow you and your employees to ask satisfied customers for reviews in an intuitive and non-threatening way. The preferred medium is via SMS text messaging which enjoys a 99% open rate, versus email which generally clocks in at under 20%.
The messages you send should:
The review management software must have a piece of code that allows the reviews section of your website (www.yourcompany.com/reviews) to update automatically as you collect new reviews through the system. Setting up this page on your domain allows you to get some serious SEO juice for the search term – your name & reviews.
Finally, when selecting a review management system, employee metrics such as who is soliciting reviews, the quality of the reviews they are collecting, and which sites they are going to allows for enterprise wide adoption to build a deep and wide moat around your online reputation that discourages fake competitive and disgruntled employee reviews.
In closing, remember that 93% of customers will hesitate to do business with your company if you have under 4 stars on any of the major reviews sites. Even if you currently have 5 stars, but only a few overall reviews, it just takes a couple of bad ones to drag your star rating down into the mud.
Your online reputation is an important brand asset. Reputation management is revenue insurance.