Google is a search engine that wants to connect businesses with customers, and potential customers with the companies they need. Its ultimate goal is to reward companies that are most popular and prominent within their market, to those that are most highly regarded as potential customers.
Google wants to be the person in between that connects them.
Visitors on the web uses search engines for many reasons. And when they're looking for something as a comparison, reviews and reputation are the things they seek. No one wants to get an awful or average service if they can choose a business with a better history of making customers happy. On the web, businesses have lesser chance to hide their reputation.
Customers have their own voice, and thanks to online reviewers, customers can give both feedback and appreciation to services they use. And thanks to the internet, future prospect customers can now see the collective history of a business's ability to keep customers happy.
All that in 24 hours, 7 hours a week, and anywhere on the globe. The information is just there to be seen.
Reputation That Counts
Reviews on the web is like a survey, a collective way to get information about a service and how they were able to deliver their promise to customers. Depending on the reviewers site, potential customers have somewhere between 75 percent to 90 percent to trust on online reviews when considering a purchase.
A slightly smaller number of people trust online reviews as much as we trust recommendation by the people we know. The chances of being rigged? Probably.
This is because we take more consideration from those that are most important to us. We have developed an ability to digest many opinions from the outside world, made from a diverse group of people having different standards and tastes. But when considering the public's overall opinion about a business, we tend to believe in those that we like to trust.
Reputation Management And Beyond
This is the practice of managing someone's online reputation, mainly to consist getting more good reviews to help drown the poor ones. Using the ability to get high in search engine's results pages (SERPs), they can increase people's awareness of their brand, and respond to reviews to many other websites as a method of damage control.
But as time goes by, businesses need to concentrate on reputation development, not just reputation management. The development of this will in turn develop better reputation, not just a mean to cover up the bad ones when they happen.
In the past, small businesses were able to thrive without much of today's problems. Even though they provide poor performing products and services, as long as there were enough visitors to their well-positioned shop/office/store, and they were well-advertised, there will always be new people to come - despite how bad their products might actually be.
The reason for this is simple: at that time, there were no ways for customers to shout out loud their voices and opinions. Feedback were restricted and there weren't any great impact customers can do in return to what their host may have given them.
Now with the internet, customers can share their experience with the people in their social circles. Businesses can longer hide from its customers' opinions, whether how good or bad they'll review them.
Reviews, And How They'll Affect
When local search was first available, reviews weren't much of a factor for customers' decision. But when tech advanced, reviews became more significant.
Google as the prominent search giant, has made web services that offer reviews to influence its search engine results pages. Google has included ranking factors from those sites to its algorithms in order to encourage more people to use Google.
For businesses, they aren't anymore competing with just other businesses like themselves in real life, but also to compete in online reviews so they can get a higher rank in Google, in order to get more customers.
If time and money are not a concern, potential customers will seek the "best" out there. Not the "so-so average".
Businesses should take advantage of this, and need to look beyond just rankings for motivation for getting reviews. They need to think about how to get more good reviews over time in order to develop a good reputation, rather than just to manage it.
Developing Reputation For The Greater Goods
To get the most out of online reviews, the effort shouldn't be limited to marketing campaign or customer relationship. Everyone inside a company must be committed to ask feedback from customers, and sincerely listen to their complains. The flow should start from the very top, and then to the entire organization.
Feedback and suggestions shouldn't be taken just from unhappy customers; even the happiest customers are very likely to have suggestions.
If there are problems that need to be addressed, they must first be identified and mitigated as soon after the customer that had the experience complain. Ideally, this should be addressed before the said person leaves the location. But if that isn't possible, the best chance to regain their trust is to delight them.
This is because the internet has come to places that weren't reached before. Everyone that has the access to the internet, can see whatever reviews people have on them. One bad review can affect everything. So addressing concerns before asking them to comment is necessary.
If the customers is happy, politely ask them to provide their comments. If possible, include name and photo to make it more legitimate.
Social media and reviewers websites are great source to start. But as a company's official presence on the web, the company's website is the forefront for presence It's advised that the company's website also have ways for customers to deliver their opinions - both the goods and the bads.
And again, every possible issues should be addressed as soon as they're received.
Followups though phone calls or emails will work fine. Send them out within a few days after the interaction, asking them about the experience and for any further suggestion they may have in mind. Address both their praise and concerns and always thank them for anything they may have to help.