The days of pulling out a big yellow book, flipping through the pages and finding a business are behind us. If someone is looking to find a business that provides a particular service, the first thing they do is Google it. This is why now, more than ever, a business’s online presence and reputation is so important.

When people search companies, one of the first things that appear is the business rating from Google, Facebook or other online platform’s reviews. This is the first impression users get if they have never interacted with the business. If the prospective customer’s first impression is a negative one, this could impact the business’ bottom line.

The barrier between customers has been reduced in such a way that people can now communicate with each other about their experiences without having to know each other. This new way of business listing and experience sharing can be positive or negative for the business owner. It all depends on whether or not they choose to monitor their online reputation.

One of the most important things a business can do when trying to maintain a positive online presence is to monitor Google reviews. Since Google is the most widely used search engine, their reviews are always the first to show up. This is also where most people choose to share their experience. And since Google has earned the trust of billions of users, it is likely the most trusted review source. For this reason, a business owner should frequently be monitoring what is said about them in this review platform by addressing all reviews, especially negative ones.

To maintain a comprehensive positive online reputation, we recommend monitoring other review platforms such as Facebook, Yelp and industry related sites. Depending on the business, there are additional review platforms that share industry related online reviews. For example, a car dealership may want to also monitor their reviews on Cars.com and Dealer Rater. A medical practice may want to monitor its reviews on Health Grades and Rate MDs.

Receiving a negative review is not the end of the world but ignoring it can certainly give off the wrong impression to a prospective customer. Sometimes, the business is in the wrong and a genuine apology is the best thing to offer. This can go a long way with a customer. It will hopefully diffuse the situation and start a process of reconciliation.

In other cases, negative feedback turns out to be a simple misunderstanding. This is a great opportunity for the business to present their case and clarify the situation for the disappointed customer, along with others considering the business. In the best-case scenario, the customer who left the negative review could decide to take the review down.

Asking for reviews from customers is one of the most effective ways to maintain an active and positive online reputation. When a business provides a service and feels the customer is satisfied, they should immediately recommend the customer share their experience. Review scores are calculated as an average of all reviews; therefore the more reviews, the larger the cushion should a customer submit a negative one. This can be done in a variety of ways such as a follow-up email, sending a post card or verbally asking the customer once the service they are paying for has been fulfilled.

When a business actively monitors its online reputation, it opens up the door for improvement. They can read an honest opinion of how customers are experiencing their business, communicate openly with them and make internal changes that will improve future customer experience. However, monitoring a business’s online reputation can be a complex and time-consuming task for a busy owner. That is why we recommend turning to an expert who specialized in increasing positive online presence for companies. WRAL Digital Solutions would love to help. Contact us today at (919) 744-3138 if you are in the Triangle and (910) 632-2163 in the Wilmington area.