Reputation Management Methodology

The most reliable, cost-effective way of winning the trust of customers.

Seven Steps to a Strong Business Reputation

The best way to cut through the noise

Everyday, we are bombarded by nonstop advertising and endless choice. People use online tools to cut through the noise, because they need a quick and easy way to decide if they should trust you with their business—or if they should go to the other guy instead.

But we all know the Internet doesn’t always tell the whole story. That’s where reputation management comes in. It’s about putting your best foot forward online, no matter where consumers look for information. 

Reputation management first principles

  • Develop a presence on all the major online channels
  • Monitor the conversation daily
  • Recruit customers to tell your story
  • Diversify your efforts
  • Respond quickly and authentically
  • Keep online content up to date
  • Compare yourself to the competition
  • Synchronize your team’s efforts

 

What is Reputation Management

Reputation management is about making sure the world sees your business for what it truly is. Putting reputation management at the center of your business strategy makes everything else easier. You get natural lead generation, more web referrals, better return on your marketing efforts, and more time to focus on running your business.

Methodology overview

Stake a claim - You need to have a presence on all of the major channels that customers use to assess business reputation.

Know what’s going on - You can’t improve your reputation until you have a realistic understanding of where you stand.

Encourage advocacy - Get your customers to spread the word for you. This is key to any successful reputation management campaign.

Diversify - Not every customer finds you through the same channel, so you need to look good no matter where they search.

Be responsive - Reputation management requires public dialog. Foster authentic, back-and-forth engagement with your customers in open forums like social media.

Stay up to date - The web is always changing, and your reputation has to adapt with it if you want to stay above the fold.

Measure your progress - You need objective measures to see how you stack up to your competitors.

Stay on the same page - Everyone on your team needs to know your reputation goals and how they fit into them.

Reputation management saves you time and money

Done right, reputation management should open up your schedule, not give you extra things to do. That’s why Reputation.com offers innovative solutions designed around the needs of today’s businesses:

The Key Components of Reputation Management

Your reputation consists of what people believe about your business, which is why third-party endorsements make up the cornerstone of a good reputation management strategy. Below are the top factors that affect your reputation, and best practices on how to put them to work for you.

Presence

Your reputation is only as good as what people can find, and increasingly the first step in any consumer decision is an online search—whether at the computer or on a mobile device. Search engines decide which businesses to show for any given area by looking at authoritative sources: review sites, business listings, social media and so forth. The more of these sources tell the same story, the better off you’ll be.

Claiming & optimizing – If you haven’t already, claim your review and social media profiles and make sure all your contact information is up to date. You’ll also need to find the top-ranking business listings or Yellow Pages sites in the regions where you have a physical business presence, then get yourself listed on these.

Interconnecting – Once you have a presence across a number of sites, strengthen it by cross-validating. If your social, review, and listings pages point to each other, that sends a strong signal that the information is accurate and relevant.

Checking for consistency – If you want to rank when people look for local businesses, you need to send a consistent message. At the very least, your business’s name, address, hours, and phone number need to be the same on all the sites you appear on.

Online Reviews

People are reading your online reviews, so a strong reputation on review sites is one of the most powerful signals you can send to potential customers. But it’s about more than just getting good reviews. Your reviews need to look authentic and authoritative, and they need to appear regularly across a range of sites. This creates the impression that your business delivers top-quality results on a consistent basis.

Monitoring & prioritizing – Determine where you’re being reviewed, which sites get the most visibility, and which sites have the biggest impact. Then monitor your reviews and track the trends that appear.

Boosting star ratings & spread – Encourage your most loyal customers to post new reviews, and steer them to the sites that will have the most impact. Spread your efforts across several of the top sites so that your reputation isn’t dependent on the whims of any one service.

Responding & amplifying – Show potential customers that you care by responding to negative reviews and resolving their issues. Call out especially good reviews from your website and link back to the original, to make sure positive messages get heard.

Social Media

Social media is one of the fastest growing referral sources for businesses of all types and sizes. Yet you want customers to be able to do more than just find you on social media. Your social presence should serve as a testament to why customers trust you. It’s an opportunity to show the human face of your operation, and it’s also a way to quickly funnel customers toward the aspects of your business that are most important to them.

Claiming & optimizing – Put together an attractive presence on each of the top social media sites, but avoid clutter. Include only the information that is most relevant to your customers, keeping your message focused and clear. If you have multiple business locations, make social media profiles for each location.

Developing an appropriate publication plan – Being realistic is important. Come up with a publication plan you can stick to, otherwise you’ll quickly burn out. Emphasize information that matters to your customers, whether local news, promotions, or new products. However, also remember that customers aren’t visiting you on social media to be friends, they’re looking for specific information. Addressing common queries and concerns should be the center of your publishing efforts.

Responding & interacting – When people contact you on social media, they expect a rapid response. That said, nobody likes to get a canned answer, so you need to find ways to answer quickly and authentically to any queries. Use alerts and workflows to simplify this process.

Surveying

Knowing what your customers think is key to creating effective reputation management strategies. Furthermore, asking customers what they think tends to increase feelings of loyalty and goodwill. Use survey tools to learn what people most like and dislike about your business, and also to reduce the number of unhappy customers who vent their frustrations in more public forums.

Syncing online & offline – Make it easy for customers to leave feedback at the point of sale by setting up digital survey kiosks. For customers who don’t provide feedback in person, you can also follow up with email surveys.

Keep problems offline – Simple survey or feedback tools provide customers with the opportunity to express their frustrations. Whenever you get a complaint, reach out immediately to resolve it. Make unhappy customers feel like you care, so that they’re less inclined to broadcast their frustrations online.

Learn from responses – If you see recurring themes appearing in your surveys, good or bad, you’ve probably found a common element of your customer experience. Adjust your operational model as appropriate to emphasize positive aspects and fix any systemic problems.

Analysis

Your reputation changes constantly, and it’s important to understand new data as it appears. You don’t want to base your business plan on yesterday’s news. Tools that let you measure and assess your progress holistically are essential to reputation management.

Tracking trends – Measure how many reviews you get per week, the average rating, and the direction of the trend. Look for common themes in your reviews and social comments so you can draw out operational insights. If you have multiple business locations, compare them.

Setting alerts – Configure email alerts so that you know whenever someone posts a negative review. Follow up on complaints or poor survey responses to make sure there are no structural problems you need to solve.

Regular reporting – Set up periodic reputation reports for your team so that you don’t lose sight of reputation goals in the bustle of daily operations. Weekly or monthly “report cards,” sent out to all key personnel, can help keep reputation management efforts on track.

Benchmarking & Scoring

Reputation is relative: a four-star rating only looks good if everyone else has three stars. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to know where you excel and where you lag behind. If you have multiple business locations, you also need to see which are performing best and which need improvement.

Assessing local competitors – Measure how well your competitors manage their reputations, and look for clues on how you can improve. Break down your analysis by category, and focus on competitor weaknesses to entice their customers to give you a try.

Setting benchmarks – If you notice most competitors get a 3.5-star average on review sites, aim to get a 4. If they have an average of 10 reviews, aim to get at least 15. Having a target to aim for helps to motivate your reputation management efforts, and it can serve as a measuring stick to assess the performance of your team members.

Looking at the industry – Different industries have different standards. Spend some time looking at what consumers in your industry expect in terms of online review scores, social media interaction, and so forth, then set your standards according to the best in class.

Location Alignment

If you have more than one business location, you need to coordinate efforts between them. Online reputations can spill over from one location to the other, and your overall brand reputation affects each of your locations. Make sure goals, objectives, and tactics are communicated across your team.

Scaling your efforts – You’ll need tools that can track your business holistically and also assess the reputations of individual locations. Ideally, data should be collected centrally and then parsed out to individual users based on their permission levels.

Communicating – Reporting and alerting tools should be configured to send the relevant data to the appropriate team member. Goals, benchmarks, and performance standards need to be defined, and progress should be visible to the team members responsible.

Training & excelling – Make sure everyone knows how to use your tools and is familiar with best practices for reputation management. Local managers should be aware of your companywide reputation goals and know how to execute them.

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