Many business owners are shocked the first time they see unhappy customers’ bad reviews on Google Places, Yahoo Local, CitySearch, Yelp, or one of hundreds of lesser-known directories and review sites. How can people say such things about you or your business? What can you do about it? Cook Profitability Services has discretely helped a number of high-profile clients with online reputation management.
You have spent years – even decades – building up your business or practice. You have a large group of loyal, satisfied customers, and you try do deal with any customer complaints politely and fairly. You’re happy with the way you interact with your target market. You work hard to provide quality service at fair prices.
Ambushed by the Dark Side
Then someone passes you a link or a printout of a nasty customer review. You are stunned that people would say such awful things online. And you’re even more shocked to find out that not only CAN people write scathing reviews – but that they’re legally protected. And even worse, one of the main ways today’s consumers shop for services is through online research – especially reviews.
What you need to accept about customer reviews
It’s inevitable – Your business already has listings and pages on many review sites. The major sites create them automatically, and set up the tools for customers to review you. And it’s just a matter of time until the first very happy customer – or the first angry customer – uses those tools.
It’s protected speech – Many times, our clients’ first reaction is to call a lawyer. Save your money. Unless you can prove actual libel, there’s nothing you can do legally about an opinion about your goods or services.
You can’t make it go away – Whatever a sales rep may tell you, except under very special circumstances, there is nothing that can be done to make a review disappear.
You can’t opt out of the conversation – People have the right and the inclination to talk about you online, and you have no choice about it.
You can’t control the conversation – Traditional marketing is about controlling your image and message. Social media – of which review sites are an example – are about customers controlling the message. Your only choices are to ignore it or to participate.
It can hurt your business – The majority of purchases now start with internet searches and research. And reviews – bad and good – are showcased in search results. You can’t just ignore it.
Unhappy customers are naturally the most likely to post – Satisfaction is not a powerful motivator to post reviews. Anger and frustration are powerful motivators. And social media – review sites – help ease the feeling of helplessness that frustrated customers feel.
If you don’t have a problem, you should act now
More and more often, savvy businesses are consulting with us about online reputation management while their reviews are either non-existent, or are fairly positive. They understand that their customers are actively seeking reviews or advice from their peers, not only on review sites, but on other social media, from Facebook to Foursquare. Waiting until
And they’re not only sitting in front of their computers making purchase or service decisions. They’re checking reviews and recommendations on the road through their smart phones, and other mobile devices. In fact, many social review sites encourage users to check in WHILE AT THE BUSINESS! A customer enduring long wait times or other annoyances can file an online review, and even pictures and video live from the site.
Standard reputation management services
Our standard level of reputation management services focuses on a business operation without a major existing problem. Service includes:
- Online reputation inventory and analysis – In-depth research about your business presence online, across major review sites and directories, forums, news media and other social media feeds and streams. Our analysis includes our proprietary ORM Scale score that weights your positive and negative ratings as well as your strengths and vulnerabilities.
- Complete ORM consultation – We work with you to develop a reputation management strategy that will work within your operation to monitor reviews and social media and monitor and impact the conversation about your business. This includes helping you set up a system to solicit and encourage reviews from happy customers.
- Staff training – Almost without exception, bad customer reviews stem from real or perceived customer service or communication problems. We train your staff about the impact of customer service in online reviews, as well as procedures for responding to bad reviews. We’ll also teach you how to “triage” bad reviews – how to decide what to do about those that do crop up.
- Ongoing services – If you don’t have staff resources, or would rather not deal with the social media aspects of your business, we can provide ongoing work in various areas, including the solicitation of good customer reviews and facilitating their posting, as well as monitoring services to keep tabs on your online reputation profile.
Critical reputation management services
If your business already has major online reputation problems – from bad publicity about a news story to persistent customer complaints – we may be able to help. Cook Profitability Services has discretely helped a number of high-profile clients with many bad reviews or other publicity problems.
- Online reputation inventory and analysis – In-depth research about your business presence online, across major review sites and directories, forums, news media and other social media feeds and streams. Our analysis includes our proprietary ORM Scale score that weights your positive and negative ratings as well as your strengths and vulnerabilities. We’ll help you find the true extent of your problem and what the real impact is to your business.
- Holistic reputation repair – We focus on the source of your publicity or reputation problem, and then develop a strategy to begin the process of repair. Normally this involves a longer-term plan that not only mitigates existing problems, but also insulates the company against the effects of future problems through a mix of positive publicity, facilitation of reviews from happy customers, social media engagement and other factors. We have top-level resources, including a Pultizer Prize-winning journalist with decades of direct editorial experience, a recognized social media authority, and search specialists that can properly evaluate the true damage caused by bad online publicity.
We do NOT guarantee that we can make bad reviews or bad publicity disappear from the web. You should be skeptical of anyone making that claim. What we can do is answer the question “What can I do to make it better?”