Negativity can cost you 22% of business: How to maintain a positive online reputation

By Hannah Whittenly

A business lives and dies on its reputation and, more than ever, customers are judging businesses on their internet presence. A 2015 study demonstrates that a business with a single negative article on the first page of its search results could lose up to 22% of its business as a result. That’s why it’s critical for every business owner to cultivate a positive online presence. Here are a few steps you can take to maintain a sterling reputation among customers and prospects.

Temper expectations with an honest brand identity
If you promise to deliver the world and come up short, you can be sure your customers will be upset. A website that presents the history and culture of your company can create a sense of kinship with your customers, but it can also set expectations. For example, customers will be more forgiving of long delivery times if they know all your products are handmade. Present an honest picture of your company, and the reviews you receive are more likely to reflect the expectations you’ve set.

[amazon_link asins=’1976782104′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’de5287a6-a092-11e8-a6fa-319332e87b05′]Put your best reviews front & center
While the risk of a negative review could scare you off from reviews entirely, a site without any reviews at all can come across as dubious, and quality testimonials can help bolster your business’ credibility. For example, Rob’s Septic Tanks Inc features a rotating list of testimonials on their landing page. “If you want the job done right, call Rob’s” reads one. Keep in mind that good grammar and spelling and specific and concrete facts are integral to the credibility of these reviews.

Respond to bad reviews
Customers understand that sometimes businesses make mistakes, and responding effectively and honestly is the best way to get ahead of the problem. Make sure to respond to every review personally. How you approach this is important. You want to be sympathetic to the needs of the customers and constructive in terms of how your policy will change to reflect the mistakes. A bad review can be a blessing in disguise if your response demonstrates your willingness to engage productively with your clients. If a customer’s issues are addressed, you may even politely request that they resubmit their review in more tempered terms.

[amazon_link asins=’B00YJ56SOO’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’succeedingi0d-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e61c6504-a092-11e8-bed3-4588d9a38a84′]Volume is important
If you have only five reviews, a single negative comment can leave a bad taste in the mouths of customers. One out of a hundred becomes an outlier. If your company is being run like it should, the positives should outweigh the negatives, and that’s why it’s important to encourage reviews. Provide links to your review page with each email receipt, and provide links to submit front and center on your site. If your reviews are consistently negative, that suggests a problem that goes well beyond your customer service experience.

Your online reputation can affect your sales significantly, but it’s more important than that. It’s a barometer of how effectively your business is being run, and you should make your reviews an integral part of your company’s infrastructure.


Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

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