By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer and Graphic Designer

The hard and fast truth about a reputation is that it takes years to build, and in the B2C world of ecommerce, a few mere keystrokes and a millisecond click to damage.

The moment you embark in business, your every encounter whether in-person or online (which, let’s face it, most are these days), is measured. Whether with clients or suppliers of today or tomorrow, make no mistake, you’re always being evaluated.

Online shopping has reached a critical benchmark in the first quarter of 2020 after being on the rise for years. According to the international marketing firm, BrightLocal, and their 2019 Local Consumer Review Survey, “90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day.” Add that to their surveyed result of “82% of consumers saying they read reviews,” and one could argue that if you’re not online you’re not in business, and that maintaining a positive online reputation is more crucial than ever.

First things first: you need to ask yourself if managing your online reputation is something you have the time and knowledge to undertake yourself, because this isn’t something you can afford to be haphazard. There are a plethora of firms that you can turn to, or perhaps now is the time to look at opening up a tech and social savvy position on your team.

Whether you take this on yourself or delegate the job, start by searching yourself and your company on Google to see not only where you rank, but also what, if anything, people are saying about you. This also gives you valuable insight into other organizations or individuals who might share the same name and could inadvertently be mistaken for you, good rep or not. These are just a few of the many ways to deal with these sorts of scenarios.

Consumer reviews are a double-edged sword by nature, and whether you ask people to write them (which you should), they can and they will through several social media platforms, blogs, online listings, point of sale apps, and ecommerce sites. Here the other rule in business rings true – you won’t be able to please everyone, and sometimes as we’ve seen, circumstances are simply beyond our control. The good news is that BrightLocal’s survey also revealed that “consumers report being more likely to write a review for a positive experience than a negative one.” As with all accomplishments, those earned honestly and through hard work are the best. Steer clear of using incentives to garner good reviews. It’s considered bad form and will ultimately harm the good reputation you’re trying to build.

What you can control is how you act or react. Proactively reaching out to both loyal and new customers, genuinely allowing their ideas and thoughts to be heard is a sure-fire way to build rapport and your company. Clients see your business from the other side and can sometimes spot missed opportunities or areas for improvement. Don’t just be quick to ask for referrals, ask how you did or could do better, and be even faster at responding to someone who’s had a less than satisfactory experience. Here automation helps with speed, but keeping the process humanized and customized with personal attention will go much farther toward a good outcome.

Who you are, your business vision, and most importantly your mindset are all major factors that will play a huge part in building and maintaining your business reputation, both on and offline. Stay true to yourself and always remember that a bad review, just like a mistake, is an opportunity to learn and grow.

 

 

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