The pandemic has brought customer trust to an all-time low, and it’s more important today than ever before for businesses to be more transparent and authentic. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses aren’t taking their online reputation seriously, new research from online reputation management firm Reputact confirms.
Reputation is even more important today since nine out of ten customers check online reviews before buying. Their purchasing decisions are now defined before they even get to your site.
“Most businesses only look at reputation management when there’s a problem,” said Jared Moses, Reputact president, in a news release. “Even if your online reputation is great, you should do whatever it takes to maintain and improve it. Companies should be investing in it right now.”
He compares reputation management to going to the gym—you don’t wait until you have a heart attack to become healthy. Joining a gym now will improve your health and help you avoid a heart attack. One example that could really kill a business’s reputation is poor Google reviews.
“The number one thing I would do is respond immediately. Acknowledging mistakes and apologizing is crucial. People are watching what other people are saying about the business and how the business is responding. Reputation management helps avoid this problem,” said Moses.
Online reputation management is not just managing and knowing what to do with fake Google reviews
It’s also about building trust within the community the business serves, and, perhaps, removing some internal obstacles that may actually be harming your business.
If you want a successful business and help your communities grow, he believes you should be getting rid of your faceless corporate polices and start treating valued customers and employees like real people.
Bringing back why the business started in the first place will let you understand how to improve customer relationships to improve sales and create economic spin-offs that benefit everyone in the community.
“I believe that a business that focuses on their relationships with the people it serves, will thrive.
If they thrive, then the community they serve in general will also thrive,” said Moses.
As an African American, Moses has a special interest in seeing black businesses grow as a sense of duty. If they succeed, then their communities will also benefit providing much-needed jobs and better living conditions for every one of every race.
He saw this contrast from first-hand experience while in Valdosta, GA visiting his grandmother when he was a kid. The small town had a caring business culture that benefited everyone in the community.
Compared to Dorchester, MA, where he grew up, it was a different story. Businesses seemed to be uncaring machines with faceless corporate policies that treated customers like numbers, not people. Consequently, there was high unemployment, little opportunity and crime instead.
“These companies must have been started by somebody, who had hopes, dreams, beliefs, family and they had a “why” they created the business. Somewhere down the line, with all these procedures and policies, they lost that connection to the people they serve,” said Moses.
Maybe these companies don’t know or care what their clients are saying to families and friends about their businesses. If they stopped being these faceless organizations, they would become the people they once were. That’s where reputation management has the greatest impact, he says.