We all know that the way people do business online is changing rapidly and in the next 2 years it is going to be make or break time for businesses in Australia.
You see gone are the days when you can have information online and have people naively purchase your products or services at a whim.
Now this isn’t just for businesses that sell online, this is especially relevant to bricks and mortar businesses too and I’m about to share with you what you need to be doing to take advantage of the big shift coming.
Consumers are starting to become more savvy, particularly with business reviews. More people are turning to review sites, social media and forums than ever to find out what businesses are really like before they will make a purchase. This is a critical time for business owners to get a head start or drown.
So even if a consumer has seen your advertising on TV, Print, Radio, Online or Billboards they will still go online and look up your reputation before handing over their credit card.
I recently came across a business that was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising and yet when you typed their business name into Google there was a slew of damaging reviews all over the first page of Google.
Effectively this business was throwing bucket loads of advertising money down the drain because when people searched online to find their business all they found was bad reviews and it would turn them away.
It is inevitable that as business owners we will all have unhappy customers at some point in time, it’s a fact. Where the big problem with this lays, is that on average for every customer that has a bad experience with your brand, they will tell 5-10 people.
While for every good experience they will tell only 1-2 people. That is multiple of 5 stacked against us as business owners and the most import reason why you need to take action today to make sure you are prepared for what is coming.
Not only do they tell 5-10 people about how you are the worst business in the world but they also let the world know much faster (usually within 48 hours) and with more people having access to social networks and review sites, it is easier than ever to vent frustrations about an experience.
On top of this you have a tsunami of people taking up mobile devices, so they can now share their experience as it happens.
Now to counter a bad review it’s estimated that you will need around 10-15 good reviews to even out the prospective customers perception of your business.
So What Can You Do?
You want to start paddling while we are still in front of the wave and below are some tips that you need to start implementing today:
1) Set up your company profile on the following sites and fill in as much detail as possible –
Then check these on a regular basis for new reviews.
2) Go to http://www.google.com/alerts and set up alerts for your name and your business name. Each time your business is mentioned on the internet Google will send you an alert.
3) Go to http://www.twilert.com and set up alerts for your name and your business name. Each time your business is mentioned on the Twitter Twilert will send you an alert.
4) Respond to any negative reviews in a professional manner and make sure you emotionally dissociate from the complaint before answering it. One of the worst things you could do is respond in a negative manner, this will only back up the customers thoughts and the public will see it.
5) Respond to any positive reviews, thanking them for taking the time to leave a review. Then take the positive reviews and place them in all your marketing material. On your website, in brochures, on sales pages, business cards, flyers, etc.
6) Set up your facebook fan page and reserve your business name with a custom URL so that no one else can take it. Then keep an eye your page for good and bad reviews. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
7) When you have finished the job or the customer has the product ask them about their experience and if it was good then ask them if they would mind taking a moment to leave a leave a short review. If they have a Google account get them to leave a review on Google Places and if they don’t then get them to leave a review on True Local because they can login with their Facebook account.
You may need to incentivise them to leave a review because most people will just say they will get around to it and never will. Now let me be clear about this, we are not bribing people for testimonials, we are mealy rewarding them for taking extra time out of their day to help our business. You never want to bribe someone for a testimonial.
Remember that you need about 10 good reviews to counter 1 bad review. You can minimise the bad reviews by providing the customer with the best experience as possible, but there will come a time when you are faced with bad reviews and this is why it is vitally important to start collecting as many good ones as you can now to manage your reputation.
Samuel Junghenn is the Managing Director of Think Big Online and has over 12 years experience in Online Marketing. He is passionate about building businesses using the power of automation and the Internet along with the thrill of motor racing.