Updated: May 26, 2022
NCFE Level 2 Award in Digital Promotion for Business (601/6671/X)
NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Digital Promotion for Business (601/6673/3)
Unit 12 Online reputation management (M/615/8542)
Samantha runs an event management company that specialises in customising surprise events for personal occasions like wedding proposals, surprise parties etc.. Her business is very niche as she consults every customer about their likes, dislikes, budgets and other preferences and accordingly customises an event experience. Her innovative ideas and fresh take on surprise event category has made her everyone’s favourite.
While Samantha has a beautiful website that goes with the theme of her business, she also maintains very lively social media business profile. Every time a new experience is curated for her customers, with their permission, she posts small snippets of the event highlights on her social media channels. Sometimes her customers also tag her company in their online posts with words of appreciation. Samantha had been actively managing the online reputation of her business so far. However, with her business expanding, she has now hired Ruth to manage the online reputation bit of her business. Samantha is training Ruth in efficient management of a businesses’ online reputation, let’s go through their conversation during this training!
Ruth: What is the purpose of ‘Online Reputation Management for Business’?
Samantha: The purpose of managing online reputation of a business is to ensure that a business maintains a positive & encouraging profile on internet. Most customers turn to internet for exploring options about a required product or service. Maintaining a visible & positive online profile, provides better confidence to new customers and they are less hesitant to engage with the business. Also, a good online reputation can foster a sense of community for the business which ensures high repeat customer rates. Online reputation also plays a huge role in branding and positioning of a business.
What all activities are part of online reputation management for a business?
Online reputation management for a business encompasses a range of activities.
These could be keeping tab of the
a) SEO rankings: is your business reflecting early on the organic search page results? Do your customers find you in the first 3 pages of search results when they are looking for your kind of product or service? If not, work on your SEO.
b) customer ratings on the selling platform as well as search engine platforms like google & trustpilot
c) customer comments, likes & dislikes on social media channels
e) customer feedback and testimonials sent directly to the business
You have to make sure that all these channels project a positive image of your business
How can I ensure that all online channels project a positive image of our business? There will always be happy and unhappy customers!
Let us break down this process into simple steps.
First step- Constantly monitor all online channels to keep track of the positive/negative comments, feedbacks, ratings etc.
Second step- read all the reviews, comments, feedbacks patiently and try to understand what is making a customer happy or unhappy about our products & services.
Third step – develop appropriate response strategy. Thank the customer providing positive feedback and take corrective actions while apologising to customer with negative feedback.
Fourth step – Constantly improve your business practices taking into account the positive and negative feedback received.
Why should be worried about the negative comments on internet when we are running a good, profitable business? How can negative online comments impact our business’ reputation.
There are two important aspects to this question. Firstly, if I choose to ignore the negative comments from my customers, online or offline; I am cheating them in a certain way. These customers entrusted my business for performing a certain task or for providing certain product. Not having delivered to their expectation or not delivering what was promised, is like committing a fraud. No business of honest intent and good reputation should do that to their customers.
Secondly, by ignoring negative feedback, I am passing on an opportunity to identify and improve the potential loop-holes in my business practice that might not be otherwise visible to me. There are blind spots in business practices that are often visible to customers much before they are visible to business owners. Analysing and taking corrective actions on negative feedback can help in improving products and services before they cause long-term damage to business reputation.
How should a business respond to negative feedback online to improve the online reputation of the business?
The first step is to apologise and acknowledge that the customer has suffered some inconvenience through the deal. Thereafter, it is important to analyse the complaint, collect supporting facts and then move to the next steps.
It is not the case that a business has to bend to unreasonable demands of a customer for the sake of its online reputation. If after careful analysis of the situation, a business feels that they have delivered the expected, they should explain this respectfully in the communication thread. However, if there has actually been any unintentional lapse, the business should immediately take corrective actions. These corrective actions could be refunds, product exchange, further discounts or more.
In either scenario, the business should avoid getting into an argument with the customer. Defensive response might sometimes quite a dissatisfied customer for the time-being but will have far-reaching impact on the business reputation.
What could be the possible impact of a business’s positive online comments on its reputation? Does it really make a difference?
Positive online feedback is the social currency that can make a business extremely rich in terms of business volume and social reputation. Positive online reputation provides confidence to your customers who otherwise have no physical contact with the seller and their business settings. This becomes all the more relevant for online customers because they do not get to see your business in a physical setting. Every customer is uncertain dealing with an online or offline business for the first time. Positive business reputation removes this uncertainty by providing a factor of trust. Happy reviews and feedback from existing customers is the best trophy a business can win. This also contributes to generic word-of-mouth publicity and C2C recommendations.
How should a business respond to positive online comments?
A business should respond to positive comments and feedback with humility, ownership and willingness. Your response to your customers should make them understand that their feedback is valued and sought after. One could also incentivise customers providing positive feedback by sending them discount coupons or special offers. This fosters a habit in customers for leaving positive feedback.
You could consider this 4-point guidance while responding to positive online comments for your business:
Always begin your response by thanking your customer for providing review
Address the customer by name and personalise your message as per the tone of the review. This helps you differentiate your response from a bot generated response and reflects your genuine interest towards the customer's positive gesture.
Compose your response to address specific statements made by your reviewer. So if the customer has stated that they liked a particular dessert served in your restaurant, make sure your response takes that conversation further about that particular dessert by saying that it is one of the 'chef's specialities' OR 'most sought after' OR whatever else holds true for the same.
It would help to reward the customer by offering some value in return. This could be a discount on the next visit, a membership, a freebie or something else that makes the customer feel that they have been aptly rewarded.
Can positive online comments be used to enhance a business’s reputation?
Positive online comments can be effectively used to enhance a business’s reputation. A business can design a section of customer testimonials on their home-page and other important pages on the website. Here, positive feedback collected from customers can be posted with their permission. Another way of generating positive feedback could be by adding rating tabs to individual products. Positive feedback snapshots can also be circulated on the social media channels to enhance the reputation of a business.
Most consumers today check online reviews and ratings before taking a purchase decision. In this scenario, online reputation of a business can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is a businesses' social currency and can provide stickiness to the business if used in the right manner.