Why managing your online reputation matters

Customer reviews are a defining feature of today’s internet. Social media, micro-blogging, and online directories offer an avenue in which every day consumers can provide feedback to businesses. Think of it as a virtual soap box where consumers, for a brief but glorious moment, are free to criticize or praise the pizza they just ate or the symmetry of their most recent spray tan. Like it or not, more than ever businesses are susceptible to anonymous attacks and slander. Management beware: this is not a fad.This is the future of the consumer-business relationship. Your business will sink or swim on the merit of your online reputation.

Consumers are relying on online reviews at an increasing rate. This virtual “word of mouth” is far more powerful than traditional methods of advertising. Consider the following situation. Joe walks into a sushi joint and has a negative experience. While he’s dining he posts a picture of his meal on Twitter with the comments “stay away! I could smell this sushi before I walked in the front door!”. This Tweet is then linked directly to his Facebook page where hundreds of his closest friends and associates can see. A few of them even comment or re-tweet this review. Then Joe decides to check in to Foursquare where he leaves a negative comment in the “tips” section. In an instant, Joe’s negative experience has been exposed to hundreds if not thousands of potential clients.

As you can see in the above example, a negative review has the ability to poison the well.These reviews are a thorn in the side of business operators. The truth is that you can’t please everyone. Even great companies make mistakes. The solution is to work dilligently to identify the problem and reflect on the core issue. Following this step you can more effectively respond to a specific query. Finally, it is important to overwhelm any negative reviews you may receive with positive reviews from your good clients.

Identify the problem

First you need to identify what type of criticism you are receiving. Is the customer voicing a legitimate concern or is it an ex employee seeking retribution? Do you suspect the review is from local competition or a genuine customer experience? Once you have identified the type of review you are dealing with, it is important to reflect honestly on the feedback. I can’t stress enough how important it is to treat reviews of all stripes, even negative reviews or those from spiteful ex-exployees, as an opportunity to improve your business.

Respond to the problem

Now that you have identified the problem and have used that information to reflect about the nature of the feedback, you are ready to actively engage the customer in “damage control”. This is where you can right a wrong and prove to future clients that you will learn from your mistakes. Tell your clients, “hey I messed up. I’m sorry for that, and here’s how we intend to resolve this problem”. Engaging in direct dialogue with an unhappy client and resolving the issue in the public sphere shows an honest, transparent approach to conflict resolution. Future clients will know that you are in touch with their needs and serious about customer satisfaction.

Bury negative reviews with positive reviews

So far I have focused primarily on negative reviews. At the opposite end of the spectrum, a positive review has the power to convert internet traffic into revenue. This is why you are on the internet. It is incredibly important to effectively manage reviews in order to turn positive feedback into sales. Here are some tips to help you do that.

  1. Show off your positive reviews. Treat these reviews like a new set of shoes or a fancy diamond ring.  Showcase your positive reviews and create buzz about your business. Get your reviews on your site, spread them across your social media outlets and include them in your newsletter.
  2. Encourage your good clients to review your business in a variety of different mediums.
  3. Incentivize the review process. People are lazy! Provide them with a little incentive to review their experience, such as discount coupon or a small donation to charity.

The key to dealing with reviews is to actively manage them. For those who are intimidated by the free and open nature of the internet, it’s not as scary as it seems. With a little work and a healthy dose of patience, you can effectively manage reviews and control the online reputation of your company.


Google Has Overhauled Local Search – What Every Business Should Know

Google has recently launched a new kind of local search.  Previously when you indicated a location in your search (i.e. Toronto), Google results would display 7 results with a map in the centre with organic results listed below. 

Now when you search for local results Google will display blended local and organic results.  Google says, “Place Search, a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places” There are a few key features of the new display: 

  1. Results with a red pin indicating the business on the map (now on the right pane) 
  2. Contact details such as photo thumbnail, phone number, address
  3. Links to reviews, segmented by online review sites
  4. Star rating and total number of reviews
  5. Link to Google places page

 

Google says results are now “grouped easily to digest and compare” You can see from the new places search that consumer ratings and number of reviews are easily identifiable on the right– highlighting the ever increasing importance of consumer reviews and reputation management. 

So the real question is; how is this shift in search results important to your local business?  Your Google places page can help you rank in searches.  The places page allows you to add pertinent information about your business such as address, telephone number, email, website, business descriptions, hours of operation, photos, video, reviews and more.  The more enhanced the content is in your places page; the higher your business will rank in the places search.  Local businesses that have not claimed and optimized their places pages be at a big disadvantage in places search.  Your local business can easily take advantage of this opportunity. 

How You Can Benefit from the New Google Places Search

  1. Claim and optimize your Google place page – or have N49 Interactive set it up for you
  2. Get Consumer Reviews – the N49 Interactive Review Manager can help
  3. Get Listed in Local Directories – like the N49 network

Google is making it easier to find one complete picture of a business.  While creating a better user experience by incorporating local and organic; it’s a reminder to local business to keep on top of their search marketing strategies. 

Read more about how N49 Interactive search marketing strategies can help your business

Using online reviews to the fullest – Caplan's Appliances shows us how!

Some businesses are starting to really embrace online consumer reviews, even using reviews in their marketing campaigns and as a competitive advantage. One company following this trend is Caplan’s Appliances. Caplan’s currently has over 120 reviews many of which they have commented on.

Robert Caplan loves all of the reviews they receive, good or bad.

“Of course we love the positive, but even the negative reviews are welcome because they show me and our staff how we can improve our customer experience.”

Caplan’s even went so far as to publish some of the reviews in their latest print ad in the Toronto Star.

Check out all of Caplan’s reviews on their website testimonials page or on n49.ca

Caplan's Appliances Toronto Star Ad

Caplan's Appliances Toronto Star Ad


10 cool things about n49 that you may not know

1. FREE LISTINGS FOR ALL

Any business can add a free listing along with an unlimited photo gallery, video gallery and more.

2. FREE WEBSITES
Don’t have one? No problem! Businesses that don’t have a website (or even a domain name) can get one for free, compliments of n49.ca. Azevedo.kitchens.ca is an example of a free site that anyone can build in minutes.

3. IT’S A WIKI
Anyone can add or edit any listing (unless the listing is paid). This includes adding photos, videos, articles, etc.

4. VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO
Business listings can include one or more videos and members can add videos to reviews and profiles.

5. THE DOMAINS
n49 incorporates many generic domain names so you can find what you’re looking for fast! Looking for somewhere to dine? Check out www.Dining.ca – it’s that easy!

6. USER REVIEWS
Anybody can review any business in Canada and add photos or video. Members can comment on reviews and businesses can respond.

7. REVIEW MANAGEMENT
Any business can print out custom review cards to hand out, add “review us” buttons to website and emails, and even get automatic review feeds right on their website.

8. QUICK QUOTE
Many categories have a Quick Quote feature that makes it easy for members to get free quotes from companies – get quotes for anything from business cards, caterers or home renovations!

9. DONATION DOLLARS
We donate $1 to charity for every review our members write. The reviewer can choose where the dollar goes from a list of charities!

10. MEMBER COMMUNITY
Every member gets their own profile – like silver.n49.ca – and can friend other members. You can even join n49 with a Facebook account!

Online reviews. A Tsunami for Canadian Small business

Most small and even large businesses in Canada have had a tough time adjusting to the Internet. Many still don’t even have a basic web presence. Now websites like n49, Homestars and Yelp that allow consumers to review businesses are popping up everywhere. This is the third big Internet wave for SME’s and it’s the killer wave. It a Tsunami. If you own a small business and you have not begun to manage your online reputation, time is running out fast . Like users of Trip Advisor for travel, people will start googling Company Name + Reviews, like “Caplans Appliances Reviews” to check out a companies track record before doing business.

It’s time to watch this video rant and start getting your customers to review you online.

Adding a Business

Hello business owners! Want to add a business to n49? Here’s how!

Adding your business to n49 allows users to find you, review you, and tell the you story!

so get started.

Welcome to N49

For those of you just tuning into N49.ca this video is a quick explanation of what the site is all about.

So if you’re new, try signing up and writing a review, or just leaving some comments.

LOCAL BUSINESSES MUST EMBRACE ONLINE REVIEWS

The proliferation of online reviews clearly changes the game for local merchants. It’s no longer about the plumber with the biggest yellow ad (the one paying the most) or the one at the top of google (the one with the best web guy).

The top results on n49, and an increasing number of other sites, give preference to the restaurant, shop or service with the best reviews. Internet savvy businesses, those who have long understood the power of the web, are beginning to encourage their good customers to write reviews online. Indeed the key to a fair and fun directory is one with a balance of positive and negative reviews. Our beta members certainly run the spectrum. Everything from the 5 star; FOR THE LOVE OF DOG to the 1/2 star hot tub nightmare SALT-WATER IS “NOT” SALT-WATER.

n49 is helping educate small businesses to embrace, rather than resist, online reviews and use them to expand and enhance the company’s online presence. And of course and use them to improve customer service.