A Comprehensive Guide to Reputation Management
Your brand name is only as good as your reputation - Richard Branson
This statement has never been more significant than it is today. Consumers now have access to information at their fingertips, and they often base their decision to buy on a brand’s reputation — primarily based on what others think of it.
For this reason, reputation management is critical to your business’ success. It helps you build a relationship of trust with prospective customers by showcasing your reliability, the quality of your products and services, and the experiences you have offered to your customers. Your reputation management strategies can make or break your business.
Reputation management involves building and maintaining a favorable impression of your brand online by encouraging customers to talk about you online, boosting your social proof, and making new prospects more likely to trust you.
Social proof is a valuable marketing tool because people are more likely to trust other customers or influencers than standard marketing messages from a company. Most customers (93.4%) rely on online reviews to research retailers they’re not familiar with.
Reputation management helps you cultivate online reviews to reach these customers when they’re researching your business.
What Is Reputation Management?
Reputation management involves building and monitoring the online mentions of your brand and managing them to build positive perceptions towards the products and services you offer.
Reputation management includes practices like staying on top of your reviews by way of review management, responding to every review and star rating, strengthening your electronic word of mouth (eWOM), responding to negative brand reviews, and actively engaging with and responding to your community of customers on social media and other platforms.
However, reputation management goes beyond just interacting with people that talk about your brand online. To get a grip on it, you need to evaluate every facet of your online brand, and how people are talking about you, and strategically work towards building a compelling reputation.
Some of the ways you can manage your online reputation include:
Encouraging customers to leave reviews of your brand
Responding to all customer feedback online, even if it just a star rating
Maintaining a consistent brand voice in every customer interaction
Adequately responding to negative reviews, and sharing proof of resolution, wherever possible
Connecting customers who’ve had a bad experience to the right service people to help solve their problems
Using positive and negative feedback to improve your product, services, or customer interactions
Celebrating positive reviews online, in-store, and on social media
Encouraging customers to tag your business on social media comments and photos, like your page, and interact with your business socially
Being present on various review platforms your customers are on
Make sure you are present where it matters! Here are the topp 20 Customer Review Websites for local businesses
Why Is Reputation Management More Significant Today Than Ever?
The popularity of the internet has changed the way people make purchasing decisions. More than half of customers regularly read online product reviews, and over 93% say that these reviews impact their decision to buy.
Online reviews and reputation management are more important today than ever, as 90% of customers say they will research a brand online before considering a purchase. More importantly, 84% trust online reviews as much as they would recommendations from people they know. About 74% of customers say positive reviews increase their trust in local businesses. Therefore, having a good online reputation management strategy can influence people to trust your brand. On the flip side, one negative review could potentially cost you 22% of your business, particularly if the review is on the first page of search results. This number increases with each negative review.
If you’re not actively developing and investing in your reputation management strategy, you could be missing out not only on building positive word of mouth but also risk losing new business opportunities.
The Changing Nature of Reputation Management
It’s no longer enough to offer great products and services and hope the word gets out. In today’s world, online reviews are one of the key ways for businesses to reach out to prospective customers.
Customers today are completing more searches for local businesses, particularly when they’re out and about and a need arises. Nearly 70% of internet searches are made up of local and organic searches as people use their phones to find businesses “near me.” Whenever they see a business reviewed on a site like Yelp or Google, it opens up an opportunity for that business to draw these customers in.
And your customers aren’t only reading reviews, they’re writing them too. More than half of consumers aged 25 to 34 post reviews online. These customers use review sites including Yelp, Google, Yahoo, and industry-specific sites including Angi and Open Table to provide feedback on their experience. With each positive review, your business’ eWOM gets a boost.
eWOM includes online reviews, influencer recommendations, user-generated content on social media content and recommendations on other digital platforms. It reaches more people than traditional word-of-mouth advertising.
Reputation management can help you track and boost all aspects of your online reputation from various sources to help drive more revenue.
Get your hands on the best review management software with our buyer's guide
The Relationship Between Reputation Management and Review Management
Reputation management refers to the bigger, broader strategic approach on how to filter, process, respond to and increase the quality of eWOM of your business across various platforms, while review management is one of the key elements of your reputation management.
Since reviews are one of the first pieces of information people read when making buying decisions, review management should be a primary focus area of your reputation management strategy.
Managing your online reviews helps you see what people are saying about your brand online and provides solutions to improve the customer experience. It gives you a better understanding of where your customer service processes are working and where you may have gaps. Online reviews also help boost your performance in search engines, helping you rise to the top.
Devising a winning reputation management strategy needs careful planning. It also needs considerations for tools needed to track reviews, and respond promptly and in a uniform brand voice.
How Reputation Management Impacts Revenue
A recent study we conducted showed that increasing your star rating by 0.1 stars could lead to a 25% improvement in conversion rates. Moreover, a small business owner or marketer who responds to 32% of reviews has a 40% higher conversion rate than those who don’t. Again, achieving a 3.7-star rating offers you the highest growth potential, with 4.9 stars offering the peak conversion rate for all businesses.
When you take the time to read reviews and reply accordingly, you are increasing your chances of being found in a local search, and have a better chance of winning new customers. Therefore, reputation management has a direct impact on your revenue streams.
How Does Reputation Management Build a Brand?
Local businesses or even franchise owners who run well-known national brands need a reputation management strategy to keep up with the times. Otherwise, even well-known brands may risk losing customers to competitors who are committed to reputation management.
Reviewing and responding to what people are saying about you online allows you to control how potential customers perceive your brand. Various elements of reputation management come together to build trust and encourage customer loyalty.
For example, your brand voice and tone connect you to your core customers by appealing to their values. The time to respond instills trust and perception of proactiveness. How you interact with both positive and negative reviews helps you showcase your commitment to customer service. It may also encourage people who leave negative reviews to give you another shot before they completely write you off.
A thought-through reputation management strategy will help you strengthen your brand faster and retain control of your customer base than a traditional marketing strategy alone.
Now that you’re aware of how reputation management can help you, learn some of the best practices before you get started.
Reputation Management Best Practices
A solid reputation management strategy begins with strong review management.
Reputation Management Best Practice 1#: Respond to Both Good and Bad Reviews
It’s tempting to reply only to gushing reviews and ignore the bad — or worse, get defensive and lack empathy in responses. However, as a business, you should respond to all reviews - positive, negative, neutral, and even star ratings. If you ignore a bad review, the only impression you are leaving with your potential customers is that you don’t care about your service. if you want to know how to respond to negative reviews, here are all our top tips.
Moreover, responding to bad reviews and trying to fix the problem can boost your business, as 34% of young customers are willing to change their bad reviews if the business works with them and fixes the issue reported. Even if you can’t find a solution, attempting to work with a customer who had a bad experience can show others that you’re committed to good service.
Reputation Management Best Practice 2#: Go for Maximum Response Rates
Responding to the maximum number of reviews should be a key aspect of your reputation management strategy. Since online reviews are so impactful for your business, encourage your customers to rate and review you online. You could include a link to an online survey at the bottom of each digital interaction (transaction emails, for example). Have your staff remind people to rate and review your business. Once you have these reviews coming in, ensure you are responding to each of them, even if they are just a no-text start rating. Remember, an increased response rate improves your searchability online.
Reputation Management Best Practice 3#: Nurture Your Star Rating
More people will leave no-text reviews in ways of star ratings rather than detailed feedback. Responding to these star ratings is a great opportunity for you to improve your response rates. Globally, the average response rate of companies is 25% for smaller brands and 12% for larger brands. Aim higher, and watch your star ratings improve. However, there’s always the chance of sounding insincere and mechanically with just a ‘Thank You’ or ‘Come back soon’ as standardized responses to every start rating. For managing such a vast number of reviews, every business needs a little support, sometimes in ways of tools or templates. Thankfully, help is not far away if you go looking for it. The Uberall CoreX reply Assistant combines clever automation, custom templates, and in-flow recommendations to make reputation management effortless.
Reputation Management Best Practice 4#: Channel Your Brand
You can use templates to respond to reviews, but make sure you maintain a uniform brand voice and tone across your communication. If you’re a national brand running franchises spread across locations, make sure you are providing your franchisees enough training, templates, and assistance to respond to reviews consistently. Invest in such tools, and training as part of your reputation management to make sure your brand voice is being channeled in every communication going out from your representatives even at a local level.
Reputation Management Best Practice 5#: Encourage Return Visits
A primary goal of reputation management is to encourage customer loyalty. This saves you money over time because it’s more cost-effective to keep existing customers than it is to convert new people. Use your reputation management strategy to nurture relationships and keep people coming back to your business. This can happen in ways of responding to reviews, being active on local social channels, and encouraging online feedback from current customers.
Reputation Management Best Practice 6#: Prioritize Relationship Building
When someone leaves a negative review, write a helpful and timely response to make sure the person feels heard. Reaching out sooner to try and resolve the issue may help your customers feel better. When responding to negative reviews, be empathetic. If you’re dealing with a complex issue, offer to resolve it offline through a phone call or even via email. Ensure such processes are set up as part of your reputation management strategy.
Reputation Management Best Practice 7#: Use Sentiment Analysis
Use sentiment analysis as part of your reputation management strategy on your online reviews to find positive and negative trends related to your business. This information can help you address things in your business strategy that customers want to be changed and/or retain things they applaud. Moreover, if you see negative trends developing consistently, fix them sooner than later. With the right tools. You can analyze all review management platforms to get a consolidated understanding of what customers see as issues and fix them before the problem is out of your control.
Reputation Management Best Practice 8#: Protect Your Brand
Make sure nobody is ruining your brand identity online. If someone is leaving malicious reviews, spreading misinformation, or causing misconceptions about your business, it can damage your brand. As part of your reputation management strategy, look for these reviews and deal with them before they harm your brand. Flag them and see if the review site will remove the review, and make sure you correct any misinformation.
Get our 30+ review response templates and free up time on responding to reviews
How to Respond to Reviews
A winning reputation management strategy has appropriate and timely review responses at its heart. But how do you respond consistently every time? One of the best ways is to use templates you can fill out for each situation, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking. Personalize your responses by adapting your templates to respond to specific parts of the review.
The Special Case of Negative Reviews: How to Respond to Negative Reviews
The most important part of responding to a negative review is to keep your cool. Don’t take a negative review personally. Most people leave them to help others make informed decisions. Instead of responding right away, read the review a few times to understand the issue at hand.
If the review violates the terms and conditions of its platform, like offensive language or threats, flag it for removal. If the customer had a valid point, acknowledge it. Apologize and offer a contact number or email address the customer can use to resolve the situation.
How to Improve Your Rate of Responses for a Better Reputation Management Strategy
Responding to reviews boosts your online reputation, but it takes time. You can speed up the process by automating it. Intelligent automation tools help you respond to reviews with custom templates and recommendations that allow reputation management software to take over.
Use them to create a library of automated responses for different review scenarios and reply to more reviews without spending more time working.
Once your reputation management game is strong, do not be tempted to suppress bad reviews by implementing review gating. Here’s why.
Does Review Gating Help in Reputation Management?
Review gating is the practice of only asking happy customers to leave a review. It may seem like a good strategy but it causes more harm than good.
You boost your star rating, new customers see a list of glowing reviews, and your reputation is pristine. But this tactic is a form of manipulation.
It’s dishonest and is widely shunned and penalized in many cases. A company was recently fined $4.2 million for review gating. Scrubbing bad customer experiences from the internet won’t make you seem more credible. Moreover, when customers do not see a negative review, they tend to get suspicious of the validity of reviews.
Fake Reviews: How Big of a Problem Is It?
Using bots or having people write fake reviews is another dishonest reputation management tactic that you should avoid. More than half of customers think fake reviews are a problem, and companies like Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Tripadvisor are starting to crack down on businesses that engage in publishing or promoting fake reviews.
Review fraud ranges from buying positive reviews from vendors to actively posting false negative reviews on a competitor's listing. Our report on Review Fraud says that about 10% of Google reviews and 7% of Yelp reviews are fake.
Fake Reviews: How Big a Problem Exactly?
Our Clients Who Are Doing a Great Job of Reputation Management
Some of our clients are doing an excellent job of reputation management and this discussion will remain incomplete without a mention of their stories.
Okaïdi, a children’s clothing brand, had to shutter 150 of 400 locations during the pandemic, shifting brand recognition to the digital sphere.
The company used the Uberall platform to empower store managers to reply to online reviews. As part of its reputation management, it offered centralized training on brand messaging and let regional managers review each response before it was published. As a result of this personalized service, the company was able to retain its customer base during a difficult time.
England’s largest elder care housing provider, Anchor Hanover operates over 100 locations, each with its own identity. Instead of relying on corporate templates, this company needed to respond to reviews in a way that fit the tone and reputation of each location.
The Uberall platform allowed its staff to automate the review management while still providing reviewers with personalized responses. This helped the company make the most of its small human resources during the pandemic and run its reputation management strategically while still connecting to customers.
A company offering parking and individual mobility solutions, Indigo operates 502 locations worldwide. However, it needed to deploy a reputation management strategy on the local level for each location. Indigo gives priority to lower ratings and negative reviews as part of its commitment to customer service.
Uberall’s platform gave the company the tools to sort and filter reviews by star rating to quickly respond to these lower ratings. This targeted reputation management strategy freed up time from the managers while allowing them to provide great customer service.
Read our customer success stories to know how Uberall CoreX is empowering multi-location businesses
Review Management Software: Buyer’s Guide
If you’re ready to deploy your reputation management strategy, the right review management software can help you. Look for these features:
Integration with popular review sites including Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger
Official partnerships with important networks to let you adhere to the terms of service
Monitoring and reporting at multiple locations so you can manage each branch of your business
Central review management that’s easy to manage to save time
Integration that allows you to escalate customers to each level of the service and support team
Do you want to ace your reputation management?