Why you can’t ig­nore your on­line rep­u­ta­tion

EV­ERY DAY, YOUR BUSI­NESS’S GOOD­WILL IS AT STAKE; IT’S CRIT­I­CAL THAT YOUR ON­LINE REP­U­TA­TION IS PRO­TECTED. MAT WYLIE EX­PLAINS THE ‘ HOW’ AND THE ‘ WHY’.

NZ Business - - CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE - AT A

MAT WYLIE IS CEO OF CUS­TOMER RADAR. FOR MORE IN­FOR­MA­TION ABOUT HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIF­FER­ENCE TO YOUR CUS­TOMER’S EX­PE­RI­ENCE AND BOT­TOM LINE GO TO WWW.CUSTOMERRADAR.COM “Busi­nesses be­ing sold, or re­ceiv­ing a val­u­a­tion, are now find­ing their on­line re­views im­pact­ing the bal­ance sheet.”

con­fer­ence re­cently, I asked the au­di­ence to raise their hands if they knew what their busi­ness’s on­line rep­u­ta­tion was right now.

About half of the room put their hands up. The other half looked at me rea­son­ably blankly.

If you are one of those giv­ing me a blank stare right now, then this mes­sage is for you: Your busi­ness’s on­line rep­u­ta­tion can no longer be ig­nored. It is not just some trend or a ‘nice-to­have’; it is a real, tan­gi­ble fac­tor in your busi­ness’s suc­cess.

THE RIS­ING IM­POR­TANCE OF ON­LINE REP­U­TA­TION

Over the past five years the rel­e­vance of on­line re­views has in­creased ex­po­nen­tially. The num­ber of Google re­views per year, for ex­am­ple, has in­creased by be­tween 200 and 300 per­cent year on year just over the past three years.

This rise in vol­ume has led to a change in the weight con­sumers at­tribute to on­line re­views.

Just look at th­ese sta­tis­tics from a Neilsen study: • 27 per­cent of po­ten­tial cus­tomers will en­gage with your busi­ness if you have a two-star rat­ing. • 72 per­cent will en­gage if you

have a three-star rat­ing. • 92 per­cent will en­gage if you have a four-star or higher rat­ing.

For those of you not aware of your on­line rep­u­ta­tion, this is cold, hard ev­i­dence of its im­por­tance. A prospec­tive cus­tomer is drawn in by your mar­ket­ing, ‘Googles’ your busi­ness to make a pur­chas­ing de­ci­sion, then a rat­ing pops up next to your busi­ness’s name. Whether that rat­ing is 2.5 stars or four stars de­ter­mines whether 73 per­cent of your mar­ket­ing bud­get is im­me­di­ately wasted, or well spent.

ON­LINE RE­VIEWS ARE NOW A MEA­SUR­ABLE AS­SET, OR LI­A­BIL­ITY

Your on­line rep­u­ta­tion af­fects more than day-to-day sales.

Busi­nesses be­ing sold, or re­ceiv­ing a val­u­a­tion, are now find­ing their on­line re­views im­pact­ing the bal­ance sheet. A decade ago, good­will could be quan­ti­fied with some creative ac­count­ing – how long a busi­ness has been in one lo­ca­tion, num­ber of re­peat cus­tomers, and a pinch of fairy dust.

Now, it is in­cred­i­bly straight­for­ward – what do your re­views say? If you have 1000 re­views, at an av­er­age of 3.5 stars, that is the mea­sure of your good­will. This will show up ev­ery time a prospect searches your busi­ness, and will im­pact how many of them choose to en­gage or not.

This of­fers both an op­por­tu­nity, and a warn­ing. Cul­ti­vate a strong cul­ture of cus­tomer cen­tric­ity, and ev­ery day you in­crease the value of your busi­ness. Con­versely, ig­nore your on­line rep­u­ta­tion, and risk cre­at­ing a li­a­bil­ity against your name that will re­main for years.

TAK­ING MAT­TERS INTO YOUR OWN HANDS

Given the im­por­tance of on­line rep­u­ta­tion, the best thing you can do for your busi­ness is take this good­will into your own hands.

It is im­per­a­tive that you have vis­i­bil­ity into what your cus­tomers are say­ing about your busi­ness – not only that, go­ing one step fur­ther, that you can in­flu­ence this.

Make sure you have the abil­ity to han­dle neg­a­tive cus­tomer feed­back im­me­di­ately. Imag­ine if, when a cus­tomer re­ceives sloppy ser­vice from a check­out oper­a­tor, you were able to call them within five min­utes, apol­o­gise, and of­fer them a dis­count on their next pur­chase.

Chances are they would feel much bet­ter to­wards your busi­ness, and not jump on­line to de­tract from your rep­u­ta­tion.

Imag­ine be­ing able to cap­ture ev­ery sin­gle cus­tomer with a thrilling ex­pe­ri­ence, and di­rect them straight to Google or TripAd­vi­sor to place a re­view.

Even if you can’t do that, make sure you’re still en­gag­ing in the con­ver­sa­tion. In a re­cent TripAd­vi­sor study, they dis­cov­ered that ho­tels which re­sponded to re­views gath­ered around 12 per­cent more re­views and their rat­ings in­creased by 0.5 stars (out of five).

At the very least, make sure that you’re en­gag­ing with re­views and re­spond­ing in a pos­i­tive, con­struc­tive way.

If it were me, I would choose to take my busi­ness’s fu­ture into my own hands, rather than sit­ting there blankly.

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