It’s very common today for your customers or clients to interact with your business on your online properties such as your website or on social media.
Sometimes they will try to interact with you on your online listings or citations that you did not create yourself, for example on Yelp or Google My Business.
Good practice would dictate that as a service professional you interact with your customers/clients on a personal level. So, when they leave feedback on your online listings, or if they were to leave negative comments on complaint sites, I guess you would agree that they deserve your undivided attention.
But because there are businesses out there that offer to do all this for you for a fee, it’s tempting for many service professionals to want to outsource this duty, especially when their reputations have already taken a bashing.
This is all wrong. Read on to discover why it’s generally a bad idea for a service professional to outsource reviews management or reputation management…
Reviews are your opportunity to get better at what you do
It is estimated that these days over 85% of people will go online first to find reviews of your business. Therefore, if your prospective customer’s first point of contact with your business is online, that’s where you have to be when they come. How?
By setting it up such that your presence is felt when they get there!
Imagine a situation where a prospect gets to your reviews page on Yelp for example and there are complaints that are five months old that you didn’t respond to. What do you expect them to feel about you as a professional, as an expert, as a business?
If you have bad online reviews on your business listings, wherever those listings might be, they should be keeping you awake at night, or else there is a serious disconnect that needs to be resolved.
A hired gun, if you hired one, will be able to find these bad reviews and bury them under a heap of impersonal other reviews perhaps, but this does very little to improve your online image.
Use your online reviews as an opportunity to keep abreast of what your customers think of your business… which should point out to you where you need to improve your customer service, the customer experience, etc.
Constantly keeping tabs on what feedback customers are leaving for your business is actually good for you as it can serve as a mini-diagnostic of your entire business and your practices such as service delivery, customer support, etc.
Another benefit is that the feedback (or lack of) will also tell you something about your relationship with your customers.
For instance, if all your customers say they’d be happy to write you a review but none follows through, that might tell you that your customers don’t have as close a working relationship with you as they should.
Or if you’re consistently at a 4-stars rating, and nobody’s angry with your service but nobody loves it either; that might tell you something else.
Your reviews don’t just tell potential customers about your business; they can tell you about your business.
You can find any pages you didn’t create where customers have left feedback by doing a simple search on Google or Bing. Simply type “BUSINESS NAME + Business Address” without quotes into the search engine.
For example, Distilled Consulting + Suite 207 Two Penn Plaza New York NY 10121.
This will return all the pages where your business is mentioned. Some of these will be business directory/citation sites, some not. You can refine the search a bit by adding the word reviews at the beginning followed by a space
Reviews are great for increasing customer engagement
Reviews on your online properties are valuable feedback that you can leverage to increase customer engagement.
They can also help boost sales across channels, and in addition they are a powerful example of user-generated content that can enhance your marketing across online and/or offline sales channels.
So, a prospect checks out your reviews on Yelp, finds the reviews (and your customer engagement) a lot to his or her liking, and clicks over to your website to place the order, or calls you on their smartphone.
So, knowing this, why would you want to relegate this customer engagement on your listings to someone you barely know?
By setting aside just a few minutes of your time every day, you can keep your presence felt on your online listings, and if you do it consistently, you will find that you can effortlessly preserve the good reputation you deserve, because you’ll be encouraging people to leave only positive reviews.
What tends to happen when you neglect this duty is that in case one of your customers posted a negative comment and you did not respond to it for some reason, you risk losing customers to your competitors.
This is because a bad review makes new reviewers more inclined to post their review if it conforms to what it seems others are saying!
In short, bad begets more bad. So, then if someone else who has a complaint about your business comes and sees this bad comment on Google or wherever, or sees mostly negative reviews, he or she decides to up the ante!
You could find yourself in a situation where your business all of a sudden has a bad – and undeserved – reputation online that will end up costing you dearly to repair.
But if you’re personally keeping tabs on what feedback your customers/clients are leaving behind, you can quickly nip this trend in the bud.
In another article I will discuss how to respond to these negative reviews in such a way that your prospects who see these negative comments will come out respecting your approach (and your business) – if your tact didn’t convince the review poster to change their review!
Respond to both the good and bad
You should make it a habit to respond to both good and negative reviews. You want to respond to the good reviews too occasionally, so it doesn’t seem to your customers as though the only way to get your attention is to slam you!
In addition, customers love it when they feel that their feedback is appreciated. So, if a customer left a thank you comment, you should be able to find the time to type a quick response to that.
Business has moved online, if you hadn’t noticed! It used to be that when a customer had a complaint about you or your services, they called by to talk to you. These days they go online to vent their frustration to anybody that will listen. The same goes for thanking you!
You’ve got to be there to participate in this very “lively” give-and-take! It’s a tiny investment of your time, but hugely profitable long-term.
Get more tips and guides by Chloe here on how to build your services business fast, free up more time, and swell your bank account.