Lindsey Witcherley

The importance of a good online reputation

by Lindsey Witcherley on June 17, 2013

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Consumers are more likely to give negative feedback from a bad experience rather than positive feedback from a good one! Don't let your business be in the minority!

A GOOD ONLINE REPUTATION - IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?

97% of Google search results are organic (Forbes) - not paid - so YES is the answer!

A bad online reputation can be your undoing... Friends of mine had a consumer experience where this was the outcome.

Scenario: A friend booked an apartment in London for a family weekend away - via the website which, subsequently crashed as the payment was made. But all was fine (so they thought!) they received confirmation the booking had still gone through even though the payment gateway was "experiencing problems". They then received a phone call to ask what time they were checking in TONIGHT?!?! Well, clearly their systems had changed the date to default to the same day - anyone would sympathetically understand that these things happen. Unfortunately the company involved chose not to offer a refund or move the booking to the correct date as they didn't deem it to be their fault and why should they lose out on £400!!! All they were prepared to do was to take another booking for the date they originally wanted and our friends could helpfully pay once again!!! Have you ever heard of such unbelievable customer service?

Result: The company renting the apartments was a reputable establishment with top ratings on all the review sites on the first two pages of Google - impressive you say? Well, not as impressive as the result from their 'bad' feedback... The company dropped off page one of Google, their star rating reduced significantly and furthermore, when you searched for the company name on Google 'that' bad review was the first thing you saw.

Outcome: Ok - so our friend was on a mission so no other unexpected person suffered the same misery... Following a letter threatening court action with additional costs, damaging online feedback, the loss of income via their booking, loss of future income based on the reviews, vastly reduced customer star rating and on-going potential of bad word-of-mouth, they were, as they say in the industry, looking "unfavourable".

SO WHY ALL THE EFFORT?

  • LOSS OF INCOME - How much business is lost everyday due to negative feedback
  • BRAND INVESTMENT - How much effort does it take to protect your online reputation? 42% of adults have scoped a service online prior to doing business and out of those, 45% have changed their minds about doing business with that company based on negative findings! (Forbes)
  • RETENTION AND REFERRAL - Companies lose far more than hard cash alone by becoming complacent - credibility is challenged, customer engagement is compromised and confidence diminished
  • CUSTOMER INFLUENCE - Your reputation is at stake if you don't protect it - access to forums and online networking sites puts consumers very firmly in control. Whilst 70% of consumers trust friends and family, a massive 97% of consumers trust the opinions and recommendations posted by other consumers online. (Forbes)

WHAT MUST YOU CONSIDER?

  • Happy customers make credible advocate
  • Social media voices YOUR brand and reputation - communicate that brand effectively
  • Positive feedback generates positive content that drives relevant traffic and ultimately drives sales
  • The consumer has super powers - don't underestimate their influence
  • Trust is the goal

HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

  • If you don't ASK you don't get... Make it easy to leave feedback
  • Be timely with requests
  • Situate reviews where they can best influence your potential customers
  • Publish a realistic mix of reviews - a lack of negative/mixed comments can also create scepticism
  • What's in it for them? Why would they bother leaving feedback? Rewards?
  • Encourage referrals - word of mouth is the most powerful consumer marketing
  • Enable networking - make information sharing easy

The success of your business can depend greatly on your social reputation - look after it, nurture it and let it do the hard work for you...
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Lindsey Witcherley

This post was written by Lindsey Witcherley

As Inbound Director, Lindsey is responsible for driving overall inbound strategy and marketing automation.

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