“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” This quote from billionaire Warren Buffett is more applicable than ever in a hyper-connected and hyper-competitive world, in which your products and your image are subject to constant evaluation by internet users. Discover all the essential steps to mastering and efficiently maintaining the online reputation of your brick & mortar store or your online shop.

E-reputation is still a recent concept, and one that is in a constant state of change. In terms of corporate image, this is the result of many factors. If you want to maintain and improve your brand image, don’t destroy everything by ignoring the internet and the powerful voices of your consumers. That’s right, your e-reputation is subject to content produced by internet users, not just your own communication. Well then, what is my company’s e-reputation based on? The perfect blend of what you produce on the web, in addition to what your customers and non-customers say about you: on social networks, customer opinion platforms, forums, etc. Therefore, it is essential to set up an efficient and pertinent observation strategy in order to react quickly when necessary. Take for example Critizr, who collected nearly 1.5 million customer opinions in 2015 at over 600,000 points of sales across France. For consumers, internet users are one of the most important sources of reliable information that will undoubtedly concern your company.

STEP #1: SET UP A STRATEGY TO ACTIVELY LISTEN TO CUSTOMERS

We’re not teaching you anything new when we tell you that customers are the essence of your entire organization. Therefore, listening to them is vital for your company’s success. Today more than ever, customers are making decisions based on an informed approach, and their personal experiences are influencing your future customers’ choices. The internet has amplified this behavior, and most of the time it is dissatisfaction that stands out the most. The impact that negative comments can have on a company is not small!

Know how to listen to your customers, and especially how to listen to what they have to say to you. The most common error is only listening to what we want to hear, thereby avoiding sensitive subjects or even generalizing some information. Don’t be afraid to listen to the most dissatisfied internet users, who will help you set up adequate action plans and improve your overall customer experience.

Your customer care approach should focus on, but not be limited to, internet users’ comments across the numerous social networks and platforms dedicated to this topic. This first step in your strategy, called “pull feedback” is all about listening to users via the channels through which they are naturally expressing themselves—verbatim and free from all outside influences, especially your brand’s. Even though it is essential to listen to criticism and dissatisfaction, it is still important to highlight the value in the positive things that are said. A secondary and complementary approach, called “push feedback” requires going to the customer and encouraging them to express themselves. Combined, the “pull” and “push” feedback approaches will form a 360° approach to listening to both customers and non-customers. Channels where customers are “pushed” (where the customer is solicited) are most often email, text message, and social networks.

STEP #2: QUICKLY PROCESS POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE OPINIONS

Listen and react! To master your e-reputation, it’s not enough to just constantly listen and observe. These two points need to lead towards action: react by replying to customer comments, and react by implementing improvement measures. Imagine a user’s surprise when they receive a reply from a company in response to a negative comment that only could have been found on a discussion forum. From a “push” approach, if the customer has taken the time (they really aren’t required to) to send you their feedback by email, youu should answer them, and quickly. Taking into consideration your customers’ and non-customers’ feedback is essential, be it negative or positive.

You should show the customer that your company is present, making their comments your greatest concern, listening to them, really hearing them, and reacting accordingly. On the web, things move very quickly—so quickly, it’s often difficult to keep up with the content of certain events. This instantaneity should be present throughout your customer care strategy, including in how you handle feedback. If you take too long to reply to their feedback, they won’t feel like you consider them. This is a thorn you’d do better to avoid having in the side of your e-reputation.   

STEP #3: VALUE CUSTOMERS’ OPINIONS BY SHARING THEM ONLINE

When you strive to listen and reply to your customers, actually hearing what they have to say in order to improve their experience, you will undoubtedly improve their satisfaction and engagement. The ultimate idea is to capitalize on these improvements in order to enhance your overall approach, thus better managing your e-reputation.

It’s important to know that customer reviews have an impact, in part, on your Google ranking, and consequently the visibility of your pages (whether they are product pages or points of sale). Although Google never clearly explains which key factors are considered in ranking user queries, displaying many positive customer reviews about your brand is clearly relevant.

In order to continuously collect your customer’s opinions, spontaneously and/or through solicitation, a solution such as Critizr’s will allow you to integrate reviews in the form of rich snippets. These "enriched extracts" allow users to evaluate the relevance of a page following a search. Let's take a hypothetical example (visual below). I search for the following on Google: “hardware store Bordeaux city center.” The first two results show me two different brands, with no rich snippets in view. However, the third search result offers me a point of sale, Mister Brico, with a number of customer reviews and nearly 5 stars (corresponding to the average customer satisfaction rating). In addition to boosting the visibility of Mister Brico’s point of sale via SEO, the presence of customer reviews adds value to the company’s profile in the eyes of internet users (e-reputation mastery) and will increase the chances that they conduct business there.

Typical of recommendation marketing, your e-reputation has a strong impact on your on- and offline business performance. Controlling it is based on several essential steps for a customer engagement approach:

  • A strategy that involves continuously listening to your customers, in both spontaneous (pull) and solicited (push) manners.
  • Rapid processing of all customer feedback, whether positive or negative.
  • Creating value through your approach, and positive comments through the integration of rich snippets.

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