Your business’ reputation is no longer just about how well you advertise your business or how good your customer experience is. Online reputation is now equally important – and can be even harder to salvage if it goes south. Here are the 10 best ways to manage your online reputation and respond to criticism to prevent that from happening.
1. Put someone in charge of online customer engagement
It’s probably best that someone on your marketing team runs this as well, or hire an agency. The goal is accountability – you don’t want your online reputation to slip between the cracks.
2. Be transparent – ask for input and feedback
Your customers should feel encouraged to give feedback – and you should welcome it.
It will cut your SEO costs, content marketing and market research costs in half. If people are willing to just tell you what they think, you can turn those complaints into:
- SEO keywords
- Blog posts
- Market research for new product development/optimization
Just be ready to respond to criticism. Which means…
3. Respond to criticism (on social media and elsewhere)
Tools like Yext let you look at and respond to reviews on multiple local reviews websites. Being active on these platforms will boost your local search marketing and make it easy for customers to tell you what they think.
However, you need to respond. Try and respond to every complaint, even if it’s just ‘thanks for taking the time to provide your valuable’. Most customers are simply venting and knowing that they’ve been heard is enough of a prize. Remember: people complain everywhere, from Reddit to Yellow.com
4. Respond in real time on Twitter
Twitter has emerged as a leading option for how people like to complain about companies, and also how companies can respond and solve problems. Setting yourself up so that you can engage and respond quickly (either by emboldening customer service reps or having a dedicated team) will help you cultivate an online reputation as both responsive and responsible.
5. Set up a Google alert on yourself – and weigh in where relevant
First, it will help you boost your SEO rank. Google alerts are free, so it’s one of the cheapest SEO strategies out there.
Second, it will make you aware if your franchise gets mentioned in forums, in comments or on websites – all of which are opportunities for you to engage and build your online reputation.
6. Try your best to solve problems
Nothing is going to convert a complainer into a die-hard fan better than you solving their problem.
For example, imagine you were the owner of a McDonald’s franchise and someone complained on Twitter “I sure do hate @McDonads breakfast.”
You might respond: “We’re sorry to hear you don’t love our flapjacks, but DM us and we’ll treat you to a lunch on the house :)”
A small cost, for a big reputational reward.
7. Make sure you’re active on all review platforms
Counterintuitive though it might seem, you want to make it easy for people to review your franchise by being everywhere. That way, people can review you wherever they want. This will help your local SEO (which is always nice), and also further develop that all-important transparency. If you’re struggling to find time to manage all of this, consider asking an agency to help.
8. Be human
It’s easy to get lost in your national brand as a franchisee. After all, it is hard to separate your pizza franchise from the Pizza Hut national marketing strategy.
But in fact, this is the most important thing you can do. You can accomplish this by reminding everyone that it’s not a corporation behind your product, but a person.
Achieving this is simple. Try and use friendly, human language when you respond, and at the very least, sign off with an actual name (e.g. ‘thanks for your feedback, Carol’). If you want a great example of this check out how Groupon handled comments in 2015.
9. Be patient!
This is critical to good online reputation. First, it takes time to build up the positivity that you’re looking for. Make sure you give it time to sink in. Second, be prepared to back it with some significant time. Franchises can get thousands of comments a day – even a well-oiled brand’s customer service team is going to be overworked. It takes a lot of hours to properly manage your reputation, so be ready for that. Believe us, though – you’ll reap the rewards in brand value, local SEO value and marketing opportunities.
10. Don’t stress too much
Unless you’re deliberately ripping your customers off, the vast majority of people only have kind things to say. By opening yourself up (and taking the high road on negativity) you stand to gain much more than you’ll ever lose! That should get you started with managing your business reputation online. And if you need more help, we’re only an email away.