With the internet connecting people like never before, companies must think seriously about their online reputation. It is not wise for any business to compromise on its reputation.
Online reputation was always crucial for businesses of all sizes and makes. However, after the pandemic, online connectivity has increased manifold. Things are no more the same as they were before the pandemic.
Most people these days rely on online reviews to gauge a business. It is only after going through several reviews that people make up their minds to buy a product or service.
That is why reputation management is more important than ever before. Whether you manage your online reputation yourself or hire a review management services company, you need to manage your reputation smartly to tide over the competition.
So, what should you do?
Let us walk you through why reputation management is important – the effect of COVID-19 on online reputation, why you should not get emotional, and how to find if a bad review is fake.
The effect of COVID-19 on online reputation
The pandemic has changed many things. During the time when people were forced to stay indoors, most of us relied on what we read on the internet. That is what has made all the difference. Now most of us have got into a habit of reading online reviews before making a purchase.
A Trustpilot survey found that 33.6 percent of consumers increased checking online reviews of products and services during the lockdown. According to Giles Robertson, lecturer in digital marketing at the University of Bedfordshire, the reputation you build online for your company during the pandemic will have a lasting impact on consumers.
“People will remember the good actions, as they did for brands who advertised through the wars, like Watermans, Bovril, and Sunlight Soap. Even if your activities make a loss and you don’t have products to sell, supporting and entertaining your customers can ensure the brand comes out of the crisis stronger and more loved,” says Giles Robertson.
According to research by BrightLocal, 84% of customers these days trust online reviews and treat them at par with a personal recommendation.
Even in the case of negative feedback, it’s about how effectively a company reacts. You need to respond to the negative comments quickly so as to settle the issue. When you quickly address the issue, it helps pacify your customers.
Don’t get emotional
It is no secret that getting positive reviews can increase your sales substantially, while negative online comments may have the opposite effect. Every business, big and small can get negative reviews, but it is crucial to deal with them properly to keep your reputation intact.
However, it is crucial to know that all negative reviews might not come from genuine customers. With competition increasing by the day, you can get fake reviews from your competitors. Also, there are occasions when customers irresponsibly and unjustly post a negative review to harm a business.
If you are getting such reviews, don’t get emotional. Tackle the problem maturely.
It is not unusual to feel annoyed when someone is trying to dent your reputation. But you need to understand that if you respond emotionally, it can complicate the situation further, which is not in your interest. However, not reacting emotionally does not mean that you should sit on the negative review and do nothing about it. If a negative review stays on the internet for long, it can cause a lot of damage. Remember, the longer it stays there, the more people view it, and the more it can damage your reputation.
It is vital to note that over 86% of the netizens have a habit of reading reviews. If you don’t take remedial action promptly, most of your consumers and prospects might read the review and form an adverse opinion about your brand and business.
So, what should you do about it?
The perfect remedial action, of course, would be to get the comment removed. However, if you cannot get it removed, the best thing is to respond to it promptly and positively. Responding to it quickly and positively can have a positive effect on your potential customers.
It is crucial to respond to reviews appropriately because that is the only way you can let your customers and prospects know your side of the story. That is how you can defend your brand. It is also the right way to identify and tackle fake reviews for your potential customers.
If you receive too many negative reviews all of a sudden, don’t get bogged down. It might be difficult to respond to each one of them separately. Hence, you can draft a polite response, without sounding accusatory, and seek suggestions on how to get things right.
Could a bad review be fake?
You need to manage your reputation properly, especially on Google. Make it a habit to respond to reviews, both positive as well as negative. It is crucial to understand that reviews not just help your local SEO rankings, but are also potential leads.
But unjust comments like fake reviews can perturb anyone. For example, if you get a review from a person who has never done business with you, then it is a fake negative review. But all bad reviews are not fake.
So, the important thing is to ask yourself this question – could a bad review be fake?
As mentioned above, no need to get emotional about a negative review because there are ways to remove it. If a review violates Google’s policies for leaving reviews, and you flag the issue, then it can be promptly removed.
However, if you get a genuine negative review, you should tackle the issue maturely. If your legitimate customers had a poor experience, you need to address their concerns. What you should do is – respond to their review on Google. You can also call up the customer and try to listen to his or her concern, and assure prompt remedial action.
But if you come across a review that you think is fake, then here is how you can check its authenticity:
If they are your customers, they should be present somewhere in your CRM or point of sale software. But if they are not there, then chances are that they are not your customers.
Check if you have any record of them contacting your customer service. If they haven’t contacted as yet, suggest contacting customer service politely by giving them the contact details.
Are there specific details like the name of the employee who interacted with them? People can forget the name of the employee, but it is unlikely that you would not remember the name of the person who annoyed you so much.
If you start getting too many negative reviews all of a sudden, someone (competitor or spammer) might be after you.
In case someone suggests your competitor in his or her review, then it is a clear indication that your competitor is behind the review.
It is possible to get rid of fake negative reviews, here is how you can do it:
In case you get a fake negative review, you can go to the review on Google Maps and flag it as inappropriate. But before flagging a review as inappropriate, ensure that it is fake. Don’t make it a habit to flag all negative reviews because Google can penalise you for frequent inappropriate referrals.
If your competitor is behind your negative reviews, you can speak to them to stop the activity or take them to the local Chamber of Commerce.
However, there is another way of tackling negative reviews, and that is to get positive reviews in hordes. Make sure to ask your customers to leave positive reviews. It can help you in more ways than one.
If you want a reliable review management services company that can effectively manage your online reputation, then you should get in touch with vStacks Software Solutions, Dubai. We are a digital marketing company, and we know how to manage your online reputation positively.