Updated: Sep 28
While in the last blog of this series "SEO- The Catalyst You Need to Increase Your Website Traffic", we compared Search Engine Optimization to word of mouth (WOM) where another established brand (website) will host your blog and will talk about your brand so their readers get to know about your brand and navigate to your website through a given backlink. In this blog we will discuss how, even if the relevant audience gets to know about your product / service through any source, they will still seek validation from other users and their experiences before investing their hard-earned money in your brand.
Did you know, 9 out of 10 customers read reviews before making a purchase? Yes, you read it right. According to Trustpilot, 89% of the consumers worldwide consult online reviews prior to buying a product, and a study by brighlocal revealed that 8 out of 10 trust online reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations. Almost no one invests in a product or service these days, without checking the feedback. And that is precisely the reason why you need to invest in your customer feedback system to build a long-term brand with a reliable image. Still don’t believe me? Read this study by Forbes, which shows 97% of Business Owners say Online Reputation Management is Important to their Business.
How do you build an Online Reputation?
While Online Reputation is built through a number of factors, as portrayed in the below flowchart, the most important one is feedback from past & current customers and also previous employees & employers. So, if you are a 'people's person', that would come in pretty handy. Collect these feedbacks and post them on various channels like Google My Business, Facebook, LinkedIn, or industry-specific ones like Zomato, Trip Advisor, Amazon, etc. to improve your Online Reputation.
While we might not notice doing it ourselves but all of us check reviews before buying a product. YouTube reviews for a smartphone, Trip Advisor for a hotel room, Zomato for a restaurant, or Amazon even for a new bamboo toothbrush, almost nothing is purchased without consulting online reviews these days.
Think about how you, as a customer, purchase a product. You go through a journey of first researching the available products in the market, shortlisting them as per your requirement, and then reading feedback of people who have already purchased & used the product. Finally, after all this, you make a decision to buy the product.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) ensures that you feature on top of the search results when the needy audience searches on Google for products / services which you offer. Through Online Reputation Management (ORM), we need to make sure that the interested audience finds genuine feedback about you to reaffirm their decision for investing in your brand. According to a study by Podium, 63% of customers are willing to pay extra if they are assured that the product they are buying is better than the competition. We also found out a similar thing, that 'consumers are willing to pay more for hotels if they have enough information available on their website' in our primary research. You can find our published research article on this link.
Always remember that it is the service provider’s right to ask for a review and a customer’s duty to provide one. If you feel shy or are not sure how to collect feedback, read this article by Neil Patel or contact a Communications Expert like The Unfinished Business Co. to help you with it.
Negative Reviews Matter more than Positive Reviews.
Yes! That’s CORRECT. And there are a couple of reasons for that.
As a customer, you yourself scroll down to the lower-rated reviews and read them first to see what went wrong and what could go wrong if you make this purchase. We, humans, have a tendency to always look at the worst-case scenario. And this makes it more important to focus on the negative feedback first.
It is natural to not be able to satisfy 100% of your customers, and also expect to receive negative feedback when running a business. Negative feedback could be received due to various reasons like Under-delivery or even Intentional Negative Publicity by your competition. But the golden rule of ORM is "NEVER dismiss negative feedback". Negative Feedback should not be taken lightly or dismissed, even if it seems intentional. It is imperative to acknowledge all negative feedback so that other customers who read these reviews do not form a poor first impression of your brand, rather think of you as one which is responsible and can witness your problem-solving attitude.
In order to diffuse the situation, negative feedback should either be addressed by an in-person meeting, a phone call, or a personalized email. Companies with speedy complaint redressal and satisfactory Service Recovery shine brightest among the competition.
This system when put online is called Online Reputation Management.
Through the years of service in uber-luxury hotels to premium clients and working in an ad agency setup servicing more than 7 clients from different industries simultaneously, it has been summed up in 1 line as below:
“An incident with a client might be inevitable,
but an unhappy client is not”
While personalized handling of feedback is ideal, it is not possible for large companies with multiple business units to find each complaint on a manual basis and then address them. This is where you need "automation" in the form of Social Listening Tools to assist you.
What is a Social Listening Tool?
A Social Listening Tool is an ORM tool for large organizations with multiple business units & separate social media handles. If you own a business with a presence in multiple cities, for example:
Group of hotels like ITC Hotels
Restaurant chains like Pizza Hut
FMCG company with many different product lines like PepsiCo.
Group of education institutions like Symbiosis International University.
Group of metal refineries like Vedanta Resources Ltd.
You would need 1 set of social media handles for each of your separate business units or product lines (1 set= 1 Facebook Page + 1 LinkedIn Page + 1 Instagram Account + 1 Twitter Account and more...).
This would lead to multiple social media accounts which would be impossible to manage by just one brand manager and a small branding team. The social listening tools monitor your brand’s various social media channels to track customer feedback and direct mentions of your brand amongst other things. With pre-fed AI algorithm and keywords, a social listening tool segregates any conversation on the internet involving your brand's name into 3 categories:
so you could answer each query in a personalized manner and as per priority.
Search on Google and you can find articles with detailed comparisons on each of these automation tools. But if your business is not that massive, the same could be done manually too.
For an enhanced understanding, check out this video on the topic👇🏽
If you’re a Business Owner, would you rather focus on the primary activity of your business (procurement, production, distribution, resource management, etc.) or spend the majority of your time mastering the nuances of Digital Marketing which is a small part of the whole business? If you believe in the former, then leave the communications part to specialists like The Unfinished Business Co.
Partner & Content Creator
The Unfinished Business
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