Starting Your Year Off On The Right Foot

Claim your business listings

Claiming your business listings online is going to be step one of your New Year’s Resolution to have a stronger online reputation. Many people overlook this vital task because they don’t realize how important having a claimed business really is.

When you claim your business, you are showing your customers, current and future, that yours is a reliable and authentic business. The fact of the matter is, more and more customers are searching for local businesses online, and ranking ahead of your competition is very likely going to be what makes or breaks their decision to choose your business over any other.

Think about it, when a customer is going online to search for a business, but ends up finding an unclaimed business profile with inaccurate information, like their phone number, address, or business hours, they’re not likely going to trust that business with their time or money. Claiming your business and making sure your information is accurate and up to date is really simple considering how important an outcome doing so has. In fact, according to research done by Google, three out of four shoppers who find local information in search results to be helpful are more likely to visit stores in person. Thankfully, claiming your business listing is also usually free.

Claiming your business listings doesn’t only show your potential customers that you are a reliable business, it also gives search engines a reason to trust you and give you a better ranking. Search engines look for and promote legitimacy. By claiming your business, you not only show search engines that you are legitimate, but you also help boost your SEO (search engine optimization) and the likelihood of your business being seen more frequently. By claiming your business on verified sites, you improve your chances of increasing traffic to your website by making it more accessible and easy to find.

Claiming your business profiles should be one of the small business basics, and since claiming your businesses is such a simple way to get the attention of customers and search engines, it’s surprising that more small businesses don’t prioritize the practice, but that just means that a business that does claim its listings is going to stand out among the crowd.

Build Your Online Presence

When you search for your business on Google, take notice of what comes up. How does your website look? Are there reviews for your business? What kinds of photos are there? Is your website mobile-friendly? What about social media? Which social media profiles are your target audience likely active on? Are you easy to find there? Making it simple for your target audience to connect with you makes your business appear accessible and personal, which is important when it comes to building trust and showing your customers that you are reliable.

Your potential customers need to be able to find you, and when they do, you want them to be impressed by what they see. Start by investing in an awesome website. Your website will be many customers’ first impression of you, and no matter what business you are in, you will find that an eye-catching and professional website will be beneficial to your business.

Even a company that has traditionally operated by word of mouth, like tree removal or lawn care, can benefit from having a nice, up-to-date website. Your website can tell your customers your story, humanizing your business; it can showcase some of your favorite reviews, giving customers a reason to trust you, and it can give your customers the basic information they need, like your address, hours, phone number, and pricing options.

Too often, businesses that have gotten by thanks to word of mouth have lost out on potential new customers because so many people are turning to the internet to find new local services. In fact, the number of local searches is on the rise, with 46 percent of all Google searches being people who are looking for local information and 82 percent of smartphone shoppers using the phrase ‘near me’ in their searches, a number that has increased 900 percent in the last two years.

You need more than to simply be present; you need also be active in order to have a strong online presence. That means updating your website and social media pages with new photos, current reviews, blog posts, and updates. Always respond to your reviews, both positive and negative, in order to show your customers that you care about their experience with your business.

Ask for reviews

Just like having a great website, having a handful of reviews on verified websites is crucial to the overall success of your business. Reviews are a vital tool when it comes to generating trust and increasing your overall sales.

Nowadays, almost everyone is turning to the internet to do their research before making their purchasing decisions. Customers can turn to websites, like Google, Bing, Facebook, and Top Rated Local, to read about the experiences of past customers. While each of these sites has its own way of collecting and prioritizing reviews, reviews left on any of them will count as fresh content in SEO algorithms. Reviews will end up helping your business ranking by improving your overall SEO since fresh reviews count as fresh content, which search engines tend to like.

In addition to helping out with your SEO, reviews can also help you to connect with your customers. Your customers will naturally have some feedback for you, and their feedback is undoubtedly going to be incredibly valuable to you and your business, whether it is positive or negative. Positive reviews offer a great incentive for others to trust you with their business, and negative reviews offer you some insight into where your business might be slacking. Negative reviews also give you a chance to show others how you would like your business to be seen. For example, if you receive a negative review, you can respond to it, showcasing your responsiveness as well as your willingness to receive feedback. In your response, you can highlight some of the things you hope your business will be known for, like:

“We’re very sorry you did not get a chance to experience the outstanding customer service we hope to provide to every person who visits us…”

Customers like to see that someone will be attentive to their needs if anything goes wrong, and the fact of the matter is, they are more likley to trust a business that has had a few things go wrong. When they see only five-star ratings, they start to become suspicious that the feedback may not be authentic. A sprinkling of less-than-perfect reviews with well-worded and thoughtful responses is more likely to inspire trust in potential customers than a hundred bland five-star reviews.

Knowing how important it is to have online reviews, you should also know that there is absolutely no shame in asking for them! Chances are, you really do value and appreciate honest feedback, and there is no reason not to say so to your customers. As long as you are not paying for or somehow incentivizing people to leave you feedback, you can be confident that you are acting ethically in your request for reviews.

Revamp your customer service policies

Now is a better time than ever to make sure your employees are all on the same page when it comes to the kind of customer service your business offers. Establishing some customer service basics, a set of values, and even an overall business mission can unite your staff and help to set the baseline for how to behave with the customers.

Having a solid foundation in excellent customer service is a surefire way to gain the kinds of reviews that will instill some trust in your business.

Your customer service skills need to extend into your online presence as well. If you have multiple employees responding to reviews, posting to your social media pages, and interacting with your customers online, you need to have a unified voice that you feel best represents your company. It might be beneficial to start out by having a few templates for responding to customer concerns or negative reviews.

Consider Getting Outside Help for Online Reputation Management

Taking on the responsibility of managing your online reputation may seem daunting and could take more time than you have to invest into it. For many companies, the role of online reputation management is a full-time job. While most small businesses don’t necessarily have the budget to hire a full-time staff member to perform these duties, many are turning to reputation management companies.

If outsourcing your reputation management is something that appeals to you, make sure you do your research and find a company that feels like a good fit and can perform the job you want done. If you are interested in learning more about reputation management and its benefits, check out Top Rated Local, today!

Basic Reputation Management for Limousine Companies

Figure out who you are and what you want to be known for

For many people, the choice to hire a limousine service means that they are looking for a service to help them add to or complete a specific kind of experience. It’s important for you to figure out what kind of

customer you are hoping to attract because these customers likely have the bar set pretty high in their minds. Are you the endlessly fun party bus company? Are you the luxury line, ready to whisk people away to their formal events? Or are you an airport staple, offering safety and ease with a touch of class and sophistication?

Whether your company offers one or all of these services, it is important for you to know which you are, which customer you want to attract, and how to show the world exactly what kind of experience it is you have to offer them. Before you even start to navigate the world that is your online reputation, you first need to figure out these basics about your company.

Once you have established who you are and what you offer, think about what your service basics include. It could help to establish a mission statement for your business. This gives you and your employees a guideline for the kind of service your customers should be expecting from you. It also gives you and your employees a common goal and a baseline understanding of what is required from you.

When you have this foundation firmly planted under you and your business, you can start to look at your online reputation with a bit more confidence about what it is you are working towards.

You need to have a great website

Your website is almost always going to be your customer’s first impression of you. More than ever, people are turning to Google to search for local products and services. When they click on your page, you want to not only impress them, but also give them all the information they need to feel confident in choosing you over any other business. Having a professional and informative website is a must.

One way to stand out to potential clients would be to make sure your website’s homepage includes a widget that showcases stellar reviews previous customers have left for you. Customers trust other customers, and nowadays, reviews are worth their weight in gold since the majority of people trust online reviews as much as they do a word-of-mouth referral from a friend or family member.

Another website must-have is a gallery of high-quality photos of your fleet of vehicles. People want to know what they are getting when they are dishing out money for a service, and having excellent photos, a 3-D tour of your cars, or a few action shots of your cars will act as a valuable form of marketing for your business, even if they are only posted on your own website. At the end of the day, your website is there to reassure people that you are the best choice, and they won’t feel certain about that until you give them a reason to trust you. Having high-quality photos of the car they would be paying for is one crucial way to build that necessary trust.

Having profiles of your drivers, complete with headshots and a few quotes from positive reviews, would be one simple way to make your website, and business, stand head and shoulders above the competition. Including a page like this builds familiarity and trust with your brand. People are essentially trusting your employees and your company with their lives and are often hiring a limousine service for an event that is really important to them. You need to do everything you can to show them that you are worth putting that must trust in.

Don’t skip out on social media

No matter what your personal feelings are about social media, it could be a crucial asset to the growth of your business. Social media can give you a valuable tool for connecting with your customers, past, present, and future, and apart from the time investment it takes to manage your profiles, it’s generally a free service.

Think of social media as a collaborative extension of your website. With it, you can establish an easily accessible representation of your company and the kind of service it has to offer. Connecting with your customers on social media is simple, and many may already be looking for the opportunity to follow you! Social media makes it easy to post photos, establish your voice, spread the word about promotions, and interact with your audience. With a well-managed social media profile, you can even turn your customers into your own best spokespeople by having them tag you in their photos and share your profile with friends!

Reviews are vital to your success

The cornerstone of your online reputation depends on the reviews your customers leave for you. More and more people are sharing their opinions and experiences online, whether they are prompted to or not. The fact of the matter is, you have an online reputation, whether you know about it or not, so, we suggest taking charge of it and using it to help promote your business. Good reviews are no longer simply a nicety; they are a necessity.

When you are ready to explore and manage your online reputation, we suggest getting started by claiming your business profiles. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential customers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information, like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business, especially for a limousine service, where reliability is a vital trait your customers are looking for.

When your business has online reviews, good and bad, it appears to be more authentic and trustworthy than a business that has no reviews at all. When a business has no reviews at all, people will question whether or not the business is even operational! It is more important than ever to ask every one of your customers to provide their feedback. Good reviews are as good as a referral, and bad reviews give you the opportunity to make things right and show your audience that you genuinely care about the customer experience. We highly recommend responding to all reviews, positive and negative, because doing so shows your audience that you are present and that you care about what they have to say.

Reviews do even more than provide you feedback and provide potential customers with a snapshot of your business; they also help your search rankings! Reviews act as new content, which search engines love. Websites with consistently fresh content are favored by search engine algorithms, meaning that the more fresh and relevant content that is connected to your business, the better for your rankings.


We hope that these tips have been helpful to you and your business. If you are feeling ready to tackle your online reputation, we recommend getting started by claiming your business on Top Rated Local today!

A Guide to Turning Your Seasonal Shoppers into Loyal Customers

A Guide to Turning Your Seasonal Shoppers into Loyal Customers

For many small business owners, the end of the year comes with a serious upswing in sales. With so many people out and about shopping for their various holidays, you are probably going to see a surge of new faces turning to you for goods and services. While retail seems to get all the spotlight during the holiday shopping season, there are many businesses that will benefit from the winter festivities. Company parties will be looking for caterers; homeowners hosting their families will be turning to house cleaning companies; people will be headed off to nail salons, barbershops, and beauty salons to get ready to look their best in photos, and weary travelers who were trapped on a plane next to a sneezy toddler may end up making a trip to urgent care. At the end of the day, no matter what kind of business you are in, we encourage you to take the time during this busy season to turn these seasonal shoppers into repeat, and even loyal, customers.

Expand upon the basics

Now more than ever, you need to showcase your very best customer service skills. With traffic, travel, looming deadlines, and busier-than-ever stores, many holiday shoppers are feeling a bit more stressed out than usual. That means that they will be that much more grateful when you or your employees are able to listen to them, help them, and show them that you genuinely care about their experience.

It is easier than ever to take care of all of your shopping needs online, so it is special and important when people choose to shop local and support a small business rather than go the easy route of online shopping or the cheap route of big-box retail. For many shoppers, choosing a small business is a personal choice, made either out of a desire to fuel the local economy, or to experience the level of customer service you can only find in these kinds of stores. That is why it is so important to make sure you don’t neglect customer service during this busy shopping season. To read more about the importance of customer service, check out our previous blog, Why Nothing Beats Great Customer Service.

If you feel like you can definitely handle an increase in customers while maintaining your standards of customer service, then we’re going to recommend taking it up a notch and thinking about some of the ways you can expand on and exceed your customers’ expectations. If you can find a few easy ways to stand out to people now, you will have a much better chance of sticking in their minds, impressing them, and ultimately, bringing them back in to do business in the future.

You can start by making sure your store is in tip-top shape, possibly even investing in a good deep-cleaning. It might be fun to decorate the space, turning it into a winter wonderland, creating a whimsical window display, putting up a hashtag wall, or going all-out with any seasonal decor of your choice.

Maybe you could offer free shipping on any in-store purchases over a certain price, giving your customers a chance to continue their shopping unencumbered by bulky bags. One surefire way to stand out is to offer the option of gift-wrapping! For many, the idea of wrapping a gift comes with an overwhelming feeling of dread, and even for those who don’t mind wrestling with yards of paper and tape, the option to save time or have a beautifully wrapped gift is a hard one to pass up.

Any way that you can enhance the experience of shopping in your store, whether by making it more beautiful or whimsical, having attentive and knowledgeable staff, or by making your customers’ lives easier, the more likely you will be to stand the test of time and come to the customers’ minds the next time they are in need of whatever you provide.

Expanding on your customer service basics can also extend beyond the time your shoppers are physically in your store. At the time of checkout, if you ask for an address, you could send a hand-written thank you note to them, reminding them of your business and the excellent service they received there. This small gesture is one way you can show your customers how grateful you are that they chose your business, and reminds them of the kind of personalized attention and care they can receive when shopping with a small business. These are the kinds of things that give small businesses an advantage over the big chain stores.

Give shoppers an incentive to come back

You can expect that seasonal shoppers aren’t only shopping at your business, and with the whirlwind of shopping, cooking, travel, and family that many people experience duri

ng this season, it can all pass by in a blur to them. If you want to stand out in the memories of these shoppers, you might want to consider giving them some kind of incentive to revisit your business.

One way to incentivize shoppers to revisit your store is to offer some kind of coupon or discount on a future purchase. Remember, this does not just apply to retail stores; a home cleaning company can offer a coupon for a spring cleaning discount, like, “Redeem this coupon in April for 10 percent off any one cleaning service.” Someone coming in to get their hair cut and colored before visiting family for the holidays could be surprised when you offer them a free conditioning treatment with the next service. Someone who signs up for a gym membership in the month of December could be wowed when they are offered a punch card to bring along a set number of guests for free. Since they are already committed to returning, maybe you can incentivize them to bring along a friend!

Many holiday shoppers are likely to be out purchasing gift cards for family and friends, meaning they may not spend much time in your store looking around or getting an idea of the out-of-this-world customer service you provide. You can persuade them to come back and spend some more time in your business by offering coupons or discounts with the purchase of a gift card. By giving them a coupon that is good through the end of January, or by providing an offer like, “If you buy a gift card worth $25 or more, you get 15 percent off your next purchase,” you are inviting this shopper to come back and check out your store for themselves. There are many bigger retail locations that successfully use a similar model: “For every $50 you spend now, get $10 off between this date and this date.” Giving your shoppers a discount in order to get them back in your store could end up paying off for you in the long run when they become familiar with you and your service, and become loyal future customers.

Stay in their minds after they’ve left

In addition to staying fresh on the minds of your customers through coupons and future shopping incentives, one simple way to stand out in the minds of your customers is by offering the option to email their

receipt to them. I know full well that, when a cashier hands me a receipt, I am shoving that thing into my purse, never to be seen again. With e-receipts, you cut down on unnecessary paper waste, your customer will have a hard–to-lose digital copy of their transaction, you can craft a sweet and personalized message to accompany the receipt, and you can send a follow-up thank you message to their email a few days or weeks after the transaction, reminding customers of your service and your business. While you never want to spam your customers into a state of resentment, a well-crafted, post-holiday thank you message could be really appreciated and could make you stand out in their minds. You could even send out a discount code as a message of appreciation, reminding people of your store and giving them a tangible reason to revisit.

Be ready for returns

While we may all be out there trying our best, sometimes, we don’t quite hit the mark with the gifts we give. After the holiday rush is up, you can probably expect to see a few people coming in to make returns or exchanges. Make sure your employees are well-trained and ready to handle these requests. When a customer is making a return, it might be worth it to see if they would rather exchange their item for something else. By giving them the chance to at least take a look around your business, you give yourself the opportunity to get to know this customer and wow them with your service. Even if they don’t want anything for themselves, they may be inspired to come back and get something for someone else. Make sure that you have a process in place to handle returns and exchanges, and make sure it is a simple process for your customers.

 


From all of us here at Top Rated Local, have a safe and happy holiday season!

Tips To Fix A Broken Reputation

Five Things You Can Do To Fix A Broken Reputation

Why your online reputation matters

It is the hope of any business owner that the business they have invested so much time, energy, and funding into will be beloved by all, and will be known for its reliability, excellent service, and quality products or services. While it’s great to wish and work for an easy time and a naturally stellar reputation, it’s entirely likely that some kind of trouble will end up finding you, and when that happens, you’ll want to be prepared to recover your reputation and maintain your status as a business people trust.

Warren Buffett once said,

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We can’t stress enough how important your online reputation is. More and more, people are turning to the internet to do their research before deciding to give their business to companies. When it comes time for them to look into your business, you want to show them that you have the kind of reputation that means they will feel comfortable investing in you.

In today’s digital world, blunders and mishaps don’t often stay quiet for long, and once negativity starts showing up publicly, it often starts to expand and multiply. Whether your reputation has taken a small jab or has been knocked back by a solid blow, you’re going to need to do some reputation repair. When the time comes to manage and fix your online reputation, will you know where to begin? To give you some peace of mind, first, know that you are not alone. No business is immune to negative reviews or the eventual screw-up. What’s important is that you care and want to make things right. When the idea of repairing your reputation feels overwhelming, know that you have already made a big step in the right direction by simply making the decision to start! Take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are not the first or last business owner this will happen to, and read on for a list of five things you can do to help fix a broken reputation!

Own Your Past. 

There are few things as powerful as a person or business that is willing to admit to its faults and make a sincere apology to those affected by the blunder. When you come off as defensive, defiant, or irritated, people rarely see you as in control and trustworthy, they see someone who is more concerned about their pride than their customers’ experiences. If the hit to your reputation came in the form of a scathing online review, take a minute to think about both what the customer said and what they felt. Chances are, this customer left your business feeling unheard or dissatisfied for a legitimate reason. Other customers and potential future customers will be able to read, not only this review, but also the way you respond to it. This is where a little humility and sincerity are going to take this negative and give you the chance to look good to your audience. By acknowledging that this customer’s concerns are noticed and worth responding to, you show your audience that you care and that you are paying attention. You don’t need to confess to any specific grievances, but think of it this way, this customer is sad, you are probably sorry that this customer is sad, so, say so! By saying something along the lines of, “I apologize that you did not get to experience the incredible customer service we hope to provide to each and every one of our patrons. I want to hear more about this visit, get the opportunity to make this right, and show you the kind of service we strive to provide. Please contact me at ___,” you can show this customer, and all potential customers, that you care, and that it is a goal for you to be known for providing outstanding service. By apologizing and showcasing that you have a plan of action to make things right, you come off as strong, reliable, and in control of this situation. 

 

If there is a specific incident that has come up that is harming, or could be harmful to, your reputation, you want to stay ahead of the curve by owning up to what has happened. Be honest from the start, apologize, and reiterate what is important to you or what you will do to make things right. One example would be, “I want to apologize for ___. This is not the way we hope to conduct our business, and we are sorry for anyone who was affected by these actions. We want to recommit ourselves to providing trustworthy service to our customers, who we value so much. Thank you for sticking with us through this, and know that going forward, we will always do what we can to earn your support and be the kind of company you are proud to do business with.” Looking at a statement like this, your customers will see integrity, compassion, and a commitment to them, instead of being left in the dark wondering if you’ll ever mention the incident in question. Being willing to address the concern, taking ownership of your part in it, and recommitting yourself to the values your business stands for give customers a reason to trust you, which is more important now than ever.  

 

Strengthen your reputation by creating and sharing engaging content

Content marketing is one very powerful way to promote your business because it connects you with your clients, builds up your relationship and trust with them, and boosts your business’ reputation by establishing you as an authority in your field. Content marketing can be done through a blog, through videos on YouTube or Facebook, by posting to Instagram, by creating infographics, and a whole host of other ways. That’s one of the beautiful things about content marketing, there are so many ways to do it that it really can be customized to your business and its strengths. 

 

Take something as simple as a blog. Many small businesses have found some level of success by using a blog to answer common questions their customers have. If you own a pool service company or a house 

cleaning company, you may think that there’s no way people would be interested in reading about your business, or that the internet is already full of information about your industry, but chances are, your customers do come to you for advice, or would benefit from seeing some engaging content about this year’s coolest pool floaties or how to handle their glass top stove between deep cleans. At the very least, creating and sharing information related to your field will put you a step ahead of your local competitors, which is exactly where you want to be! Regular blogging can help you to establish and build relationships with your customers as well as provide them with helpful content. 

 

Blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If you use your blog to address common questions your customers have, you provide them with a valuable tool that also showcases the fact that you are listening to their questions and concerns, and that you have a vested interest in helping them with their issues. The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns you’ve noticed your customers coming to you with is, in and of itself, incredibly valuable. People want to give their business to someone they trust and like, and a blog can not only help with this, but it can also help with keeping your customers engaged and interested in your business, even in times when a bad review or PR nightmare has you feeling down. Basically, a blog can help you establish enough of a baseline rapport with your audience to make it harder for them to turn on you in times of trouble. 

 

Whether it’s blog posts, Facebook videos, or well-timed memes, the content marketing you do will not only help get your audience familiar with you and your business, but it will also count as fresh content, meaning the search engine bots will be more likely to look on your site favorably when it comes time to rank your business. 

 

Smother the bad

You can’t just ignore or erase your bad press or negative reviews, and even if you could, that’s not a business tactic we recommend. Now, this does not extend to fake reviews, which you will want to discredit or get deleted, we’re talking about the everyday hits a business can be expected to take. While you want to address negative incidents and reviews like we outlined earlier, you also want to show people that you have more going for you in the form of authentic, positive feedback. Take a look at where your reputation stands at present. What do your reviews look like? Do you even have any reviews? Are the ones you do have pretty 

good, but a year old? 

 

Now might be a good time to reach out to your customers to tell them how much you would value their feedback and let them know how much it would help your business out. There’s a right way and wrong way to go about this, so make sure that when you are making a push for positive reviews, you are doing so in a way that is authentic and is not incentivizing people to say nice things about you. When people are checking out at your store, you can say something as simple as “Would you please leave us some feedback on our Facebook profile? It would really mean a lot to us.” You’re not begging, or asking for five stars, you are simply telling your customers that their experience with your business is important to you. 

 

Ideally, more and more people will start to share their feedback in the form of online reviews, giving you some much-needed content for people to base their opinions of your business on. You can also use positive feedback right on the front page of your website. If you have had any press about your business, make sure it is featured somewhere on your website. Here at Top Rated Local, every business ranked as one of the top five in its category is given the opportunity to receive a featured article about them. By accepting opportunities like this, those businesses now have a valuable asset in the form of positive press, which they can display in their shops, post about on their social media, and link to on their websites. If your business has had any positive press, like an article about your grand opening or a spotlight for the work you’ve done giving back to the community, be sure to display it where people can easily find it! 

 

Claim your listings and get your name out with social media profiles

You may not be aware, but your business is already listed on review sites all across the internet, including Google, Yelp and Top Rated Local. If you are ready to start managing your online reputation but have no idea where to start, we recommend getting the ball rolling by first claiming all of your business listings. Claiming your business online is free, easy, and there’s no better way to keep ahead of what people are saying about you online. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business. Taking your business’ listing off of these sites is not an option, but you do have the option to take control of those listings and give your website an additional SEO boost. Stop a reputation crisis before it begins by keeping up to date and aware of your online presence. 

 

Make reputation management a part of your business plan

With your claimed business listings, an outpouring of creative and engaging content, and a commitment to respond to your reviews in a timely and professional manner, it will soon become apparent that you must dedicate time to managing your online reputation and making that a vital part of the way your business operates. For some, this means carving out a set time of the day to dedicate towards reputation management. For others, it means hiring a full-time content creator, social media manager, or PR person. For even more companies, the time investment it would cost them, or the financial investment it would cost to hire a new employee, has them turning to reputation management companies. There are many reputation management companies out there, so be sure to do your research, ask around, and find one that fits your business’ needs. In any case, don’t leave managing your reputation off your radar until it’s in crisis mode. Recognize the importance of understanding and managing your reputation, and come up with a well-thought-out plan of action for the best way your company can stay on top.

 


We hope you have been inspired to take charge of your online reputation today. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to claim your profile on Top Rated Local. Check it out, and let us help take the stress out of managing your business’ online presence!

The Twelve Days of Reputation-mas

Twas the night before Reputaion-mas, and while on the internet
I learned of ways to manage my reputation
That I didn’t want to forget

So from us to you, we have set them to song
If you know the tune, feel free to sing along

On the twelfth day of Reputation-mas
my true love sent to me:

12 Bloggers Blogging

Generating content is going to naturally bring more traffic to your site. How’s this for power numbers? You have a 434-percent higher chance of being ranked higher on search engines if your website features a blog, and small businesses with blogs generate 126-percent more leads than those without. Regular blogging can also help you to establish and build relationships with your customers and provide them with helpful content. Blogging is an easy way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. By providing your audience with well-written blog posts about your industry, your business, and your target audience, you show your customers that you are an expert in your field. You can even use your blog to address common questions your customers have, providing them with a valuable tool that also showcases the fact that you are listening to their questions and concerns and that you have a vested interest in helping them with their issues. The kind of trust you can build by blogging about real questions and concerns you’ve noticed your customers coming to you with is, in and of itself, incredibly valuable. People want to give their business to someone they trust and like, and a blog can not only help with this, but it can also help with keeping your customers engaged and interested in your business.

11 People Sharing

When you have fun, meaningful, or engaging content, your audience can become your best marketers. Social media makes it easy for people to share the content you’re putting out there, whether that be photos of your product, blog posts about your industry, or information about an upcoming event. When your customers share your content, they are not only sharing your information with a wider audience, they are also giving you a kind of a recommendation, and all at no additional cost or time to you. People generally miss a whole lot of content on their social media feeds, so the more chances someone has of seeing what you’ve put out there, the better it is for you and your business.

10 Social Profiles

If you have any hesitations about your business having a presence on social media, we are here to offer you some insight into why and how social media can actually be beneficial to your business. I promise, it’s not all selfies and hashtags. Social media actually has a really important place in building your online reputation, as well as the connections you have with your current and potential future customers. The number of social media users has been on a steady incline for years and has absolutely no indication of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, over the last five years, the number of people using social media increased by close to a billion! That means that worldwide, there are around 3.2 billion social media users, or, 42 percent of the world’s population. Social media offers you a way to connect and interact with your customers, and even to share user-generated content, which offers a whole host of value for your business. Interacting with your customers on social media is one way to showcase your excellent customer service practices by showing that you care about your audience and are willing to take the time to engage with them. There’s no doubt, customers are using social media to search for products, recommendations, and services. Make it easy for them to find and interact with you! Of course, each social media platform offers its own appeal to different target audiences, and you’ll have to find the most effective one for your business. Here is a list of 11 of the most popular social media sites out there today:

YouTube – YouTube gives you the power to have your own channel where you can upload videos that your subscribers can watch, like, comment on, and ideally share with others. YouTube’s audience is huge, which means that no matter what kind of industry you are in, you likely have an audience that is active on YouTube. With over 2 billion active users, YouTube has been named the second most popular search engine, after Google. Ninety percent of viewers have shared that they’ve discovered new brands or products thanks to YouTube, so, why not yours?

Instagram – Instagram stories are having a big moment right now. Their usage has increased from 150 million to 500 million in the last three years, and it’s no wonder, since they offer fun and exciting ways to engage with your audience without having to make a more permanent post on your profile. Instagram stories can give your audience a feeling of being ‘on the inside’ or ‘behind the scenes’ since they are temporary and offer interactive features, like polls and Q&A’s.

Twitter – Twitter is known for being the social media hub for news, politics, and what’s happening now. For a small business, Twitter can be used to make announcements, promote special offers, reach new audiences, increase brand awareness, and handle customer service requests.

Facebook – Facebook’s audience is huge. With 2.41 billion monthly active users, there’s no doubt Facebook remains a powerhouse in the world of social media. Facebook offers a host of options for your business, including Facebook marketing, shopping options, insights on your business page, and messaging.

Snapchat – One study found that Snapchat has the ability to reach forty-one percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds every single day. Snapchat may have gained popularity for rainbow-barf and puppy-face filters, but it offers much more than that for small businesses trying to connect with a younger audience. Snapchat offers the option for businesses to post ads between stories, create interactive business content, and create and customize their very own Geofilter!

Pinterest – Pinterest is great at driving traffic to your website, and it easily integrates with not only your own website, but also with Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest is also the leader of the pack when it comes to product discovery and purchasing power. Staying active on Pinterest can also help you to stay on top of emerging trends.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is made to create professional and business connections, making it an important social media platform for your small business to be a part of. It’s a great place to share your high-quality content, your company’s story, or your featured products. LinkedIn also gives your business some additional legitimacy and helps you to establish yourself as an authority in your industry. Even if you don’t end up posting much of your own content, you can stay up-to-date on the news and trends within your industry by following leaders and organizations within your field.

Meetup – Meetup offers plenty of business networking opportunities that any small business owner can attend or host. Meetup offers the valuable opportunity to connect with people in your own community. Meetup’s overall goal is to “revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize,” and according to their website, more than 9,000 groups get together in local communities every single day.

Waze – Though not a traditional social media site, Waze local allows small businesses to advertise to smartphone users who are using the navigation services of the app. That means that ads for your business can pop up like tiny digital billboards

9 Smiling Workers

No matter what efforts you’re putting into your online reputation, you’re not going to get very far if you forget the basics of offering good customer service to each of your customers. During this busy holiday season, your customers may be experiencing more stress than usual, and will greatly appreciate some quality customer service and care, while also being far more likely to notice when it is not present. In case you or your staff need a reminder, you can start by remembering to smile, or at the very least, make sure you are friendly and genuine. Make eye contact when you talk to people to show them that you are engaged and listening to them. It is important that your customers feel seen and heard, as that can make a world of difference in their overall experience. Introduce yourself and try to use people’s names when you speak with them. This added level of personalized attention will put you leagues ahead of any online retailer. Remember to thank your customers for their support. In today’s world, it would be very easy for them to do business at a chain retailer or online, so it means something that they chose to support you. The least you could do is tell them as much. Offering some gratitude is simple, meaningful, and most likely genuine. This one-on-one attention and care might be the reason they chose to shop at a business like yours instead of at one of the chains.

If you want to do a further dive into some of the incredible benefits of offering great customer service, check out our article: Why Nothing Beats Great Customer Service.

8 TRL Facts

Here are 8 fun facts about Top Rated Local:

  • You can add the trusted Top Rated Local badge to your website to let your customers know that yours is a top-rated business.
  • With Top Rated Local, you can challenge reviews to ensure they are from actual customers, request re-ratings after you resolve an issue, and send private notes to your reviewers.
  • With the Top Rated Local stats dashboard you have access to a powerful tool for tracking the progress of your online reputation overall, or by an individual review site. With it, you can track your number of reviews, star ratings, listing clicks, your Rating Score™ compared to your competitors, and more.
  • By joining Top Rated Local, you will receive monthly email updates on your overall online reputation.
  • Top Rated Local gives you access to an embeddable review widget. That means you can embed the widget on your website’s review or testimonial page to automatically showcase your recent ratings and reviews!
  • Every year, Top Rated Local awards businesses in every state! Each business’s rank is based on its Rating Score™, which is calculated by aggregating customer ratings and reviews from verified review sites online, and the score is calculated using a proprietary algorithm that analyzes the business’s overall rating, number of reviews, and number of verified review sources.
  • Top Rated Local is built on five pillars of the customer experience; quality, value, timeliness, experience, and satisfaction. These pillars allow consumers to highlight what was important about their experience. It is a true, simplistic feedback system that has more value than reviews alone. It creates a place where the customer experience is amplified, and it creates a more meaningful environment for customers and businesses alike.
  • Once you claim your business, you will receive real-time notifications when you receive new reviews.

7 Online Shoppers

E-commerce is growing fast, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Online shopping is easy, convenient, and is the preferred method of shopping for many people. With so many people turning to online reviews before making any buying decisions, doesn’t it make sense that they can also get the product online where they can compare pricing options, see available options with the swipe of a finger, read dozens of customer reviews, and not have to deal with parking or putting on pants? Small businesses can take advantage of this booming industry by easily setting up their own e-commerce shops. In addition to showing your audience that you are able to stay current and up to date on the latest trends, e-commerce comes with a host of other benefits, like visitor tracking, easy customer feedback, and low cost of operation.

6 RM Statistics

  • Ninety-seven percent of people learn about local companies online. Your website isn’t the only way you can reach a broader audience. By using social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, more people will be able to interact with you, share your business page, and see your content. Having a strong presence online is necessary in order to stand out and be seen.
  • Ninety-one percent of customers ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. Your reviews matter! Start taking control of your online reputation first by finding out where you currently stand. Claim your listings today to get started. Your positive reviews will give your business credibility and will act as referrals for potential customers. Even your negative reviews can be positive for you if you respond to them and show your customers that you care about their experience and are willing to reach out and make things right.
  • 82 percent of smartphone shoppers are doing searches, including the phrase ‘near me’, a number that has increased by 900 percent over the last two years. That means it’s more important ever to make sure that, when people are looking for a product or service you provide, you show up in their search! People WANT to support local businesses, but if they can’t find you, you might as well not exist.
  • Forty-three percent of consumers do online research even as they are shopping inside a store. You’ll want them to be able to find your business and the reviews people have left you. You will also want to be in the know about what they might find there. Are your prices competitive? Does another store offer an updated version of the product, or offer it in different colors? You might not know, but your customers certainly will!
  • Ninety-two percent of people conducting searches end up choosing a business that is listed on the first page of local search results. Working on your SEO (search engine optimization) and getting listed on the first page of Google is going to be vital when it comes to getting your business noticed.
  • Fifty percent of consumers who did a search on their phones ended up visiting a store within one day. Make sure your information is up to date and that your website is mobile friendly!

5 Good Reviews

Oh the power of online reviews, what more can we say about you? The fact of the matter is, reviews are a vital piece of your overall reputation and the way people see you and your business. Reviews act as the word of mouth of the modern world, and most people trust online reviews as much as they would a referral from a friend or family member. With most consumers turning to the internet to check reviews before making a decision about a product or service, it’s important that, when they turn to your business, there’s something there! Reviews help establish loyalty with your current customers and trust with potential future customers. Not only that, they also help your company’s SEO , which means they can help you show up in search results. One other crucial role reviews play is to provide you with valuable feedback about your business.

4 SEO Tips

  • Work on your meta descriptions – Meta descriptions are the snippet of text underneath the link in a search engine’s results page. This brief description often
  • helps make a person’s decision about whether or not to click on the link that will take them to your site.
  • Be consistent with creating and publishing content – If your site is constantly being updated with new content, it has better chances of having a higher ranking. Updating your site with new and engaging content offers your customers value and incentive for loyalty. Search engines also know that people are searching for relevant and up-to-date information, so when you provide that, they are likely to place you higher in the results.
  • Do your keyword research – Keywords help search engines understand what makes up your website and know where to rank it. Search patterns, SEO, and relevant keywords are constantly changing, so it’s important to do your research and stay updated on the latest trends.
  • Claim your business profiles – The more trusted websites your business is listed on, the more exposure your business website will get, the better your SEO will be. By claiming your businesses, you can also make sure that the information available about your business is consistent and correct across the board.

3 ORM Myths

  • No reputation is better than a bad reputation – When a potential customer is conducting a search and stumble upon a business with no reviews, they are probably going to think that business is new, has tried to get rid of negative reviews, or worse, is a total scam. Negative reviews are by no means the end of the world, in fact, a few negative reviews, and more importantly, how you respond to them, can actually give you a little more credibility than having only five-star feedback.
  • It’s rude to ask my customers for reviews – Many people have this very outdated notion that they can’t ask anything of their customers, or that it is somehow rude to ask them to leave you a review. When you are asking your customers for a review, you’re not asking them to go out of their way, lie, or to only rate you as the best of the best; on the contrary, asking your customers for their feedback shows them that you value their experience and opinions.
  • I should get rid of my negative reviews – Negative reviews don’t have to be a nail in your business’ coffin. While getting one may feel shocking or like a personal attack, it is important to stay calm and think about how you can use this kind of a review to show your audience the kind of business you want to be. Your response speaks volumes to the kind of business you are and your willingness to fix mistakes. Negative reviews can also give some credibility to your online presence. We can’t all be everyone’s cup of tea, and some variety in your reviews shows that enough people are actually customers of yours to give a varied opinion of you and your service.

2nd page on Google

The importance of a first-page ranking for your business is undeniable. The fact is, businesses with first page rankings end up getting over 90 percent of the traffic. Think about your most recent Google searches; when was the last time you continued your search past the first page? Once your business hits page three, the traffic going to your website will be under five percent. If you’re stuck on page two, get started on increasing your ranking by working on your keywords, claiming your business profiles, and generating more unique content.

…and a Reputation that is Pristine

I know it’s a catchy tune, but hopefully you don’t get this one stuck in your head all day. We hope you enjoyed this festive collection of reputation management tips. If you’re ready to begin on your own online reputation journey, we recommend getting started by checking out Top Rated Local today! Have a safe and wonderful holiday season from all of us here at Top Rated Local!

Who Manages Your Online Reputation?

Who Manages Your Online Reputation?

It should come as no surprise to any entrepreneur that online reviews and your online reputation are important for the success of your business. More and more, we are seeing trends that show the importance of being on top of your reputation and actively managing your online presence. The way people shop today means that a majority of people will do an online search in order to find a business or service in their area. After a cursory search, they will then go and read the reviews for the companies or products that interest them. What they find there will make or break their decision to do business with one company over another. When your online reputation means the difference between getting more customers or losing them to a competitor, you want to do whatever you can to make sure that your reputation offers the best possible representation of you and your business.

Not convinced? Here are some statistics for you to consider:

  • Seven out of 10 customers will visit a business based on the information they find online.
  • Ninety-seven percent of people learn about local companies online.
  • Ninety-one percent of customers ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.
  • Eight out of 10 internet users in the United States have said that negative information they read online made them change their minds about purchasing decisions.
  • A single negative review can cost a business about 30 customers.

Claiming Your Business

If you are ready to start managing your online reputation but have no idea where to start, we recommend getting the ball rolling by first claiming your business listings. Claiming your business online is free, easy, and there’s no better way to get your finger on the pulse of what people are saying about you. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business. Imagine you are doing a search for a local plumber. One company has a claimed business, a complete and updated profile, and a handful of reviews for you to see what kind of experience other customers have had with this business, and the other is…just there, unclaimed. More than likely, you are going to instantly be more trusting of, and likely to give business to, the claimed business. By simply claiming their business, they have established themselves as reputable. There are plenty of benefits that come along with claiming your business. If you’re ready to claim yours, check out Top Rated Local; it’s both simple, and free!

Responding to Reviews

We highly recommend responding to all reviews, positive and negative, because doing so shows your audience that you are present and that care about what they have to say. It is definitely a best practice to give the same care and attention in your responses to every kind of review you receive. Even a wordless four or five-star review should warrant a heartfelt ‘thank you’. Even a wordless three-star review should be responded to! You could write something along the lines of:

“Thank you for your business and for this feedback. We would love to know more about your experience and what we can do in the future to show you the kind of excellent service we strive to give here. Give us a call anytime at xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

Remember those potential customers who are searching for businesses online and reading through the reviews before making their decision about which product or service to go with? When they see you respond to a review like that, they will see that you are alert, conscientious, and tuned-in to your customers. You have demonstrated that you care about feedback and are willing to listen and make improvements. That means a lot to people, and it shows them that they can trust you to make things right, even if they don’t go exactly the way they expect them to.

It is important to be prompt and consistent when responding to your reviews. Imagine the case of a truly scathing review. For example:

“I called for a quote and didn’t hear back for a few days. When the employee came out, they were distracted and were on their phone half the time. The price was OK so I went with them. Boy was that a mistake! They were hours late for their appointment, didn’t clean up after themselves, and didn’t even totally fix the issue. I will never use their services again. I wish I had spent a little more and gone with a company that would actually take care of me. One-star only because I can’t give zero.”

Yikes. Do you have a system in place to take care of this kind of situation? If you are not regularly checking on your review sites, it may even take you days, weeks, or months to even realize a review like this has been left for you, and zero response to a review like this for any length of time kind of makes this irate reviewer’s story seem a bit more credible. No matter how or when you respond, people are going to read that review and make decisions based off of it. Wouldn’t you rather boost your chances of saving your reputation by being able to defend your business in the eyes of your potential future customers?

When it comes to responding to negative reviews, here’s a quick run-down on how to respond:

Breathe. This might feel like a personal attack, but know that this customer either did not feel heard, or valued, or satisfied. Take a step back and stop yourself from lashing out in defense. One of the worst things you could do right now is to call them out for being wrong, rude, or misinterpreting the experience. Let them be sad or angry, and take the time to respond in a way that highlights you as rational and compassionate.
Apologize without accepting or placing blame. Responding to a negative review is a great opportunity to show yourself the way you want to be seen. In this moment, it is crucial to empathize with your customer and apologize without placing or accepting blame. Even if you feel there has been a misunderstanding, it’s likely that you really are sorry that the customer did not leave your business on a happy note, and that’s a great way to start your apology! You don’t need to assume blame; you just need to showcase understanding and care.
Take the conversation offline. It is important to show your audience that you are timely and responsive, and that you care enough to reach out and right this situation, but the details of that conversation can happen in a private setting rather than on display in a public forum. You definitely want to avoid a public internet showdown. Give them an office phone number or email and ask them to get ahold of you to find out how you can offer them a better experience.
Learn, adapt, and change when necessary. If the negative feedback you receive actually does have a point, nothing will look better than you having the humility and wherewithal to listen to the needs of your customers and take their advice into account.

So, whose job is it to manage your reputation?

Your reputation isn’t just for your customers. Having a strong reputation also helps your employees to solidify their commitment to your business and gives them confidence in who you are and what you do. In fact, your online reputation doesn’t just affect potential sales and customer opinions, but it can also determine the quality of candidates you have to hire from. Nobody wants to associate themselves with a company that has a bad reputation, and if they do, are they really the kind of qualified employee you are hoping for? One recent survey showed that 69 percent of job seekers are likely to reject a job offer from a company with a bad reputation.

With all of this in mind, do you know who is managing your online reputation and how? Do you have a plan in place when it comes to responding to reviews? Do you have a schedule or alerts set up to help you see the reviews when they come in? When it comes to effectively managing and improving your online reputation, these things are kind of the bare minimum. You should also be alert to and share the good things happening with your business. Do you have a space on your website that features your best five-star reviews? Do you create and share social media posts about awards you’ve received? If any of this is starting to sound overwhelming for you to take on by yourself and a little bit too important for you to delegate to one of your employees, there are a few options for you. You could hire a full-time employee whose job it is to monitor your online presence and overall reputation. This person could manage your social media profiles, send out emails asking customers for reviews, and respond to all reviews in a decided on tone.

Another option is to hire a company that specializes in reputation management. With social media and online reviews as important as they are to the success of your business, it could be the most beneficial to bring in an expert to manage, maintain, and improve your business’ online reputation. Your business may best benefit from having an outside vendor or consultant rather than a full-time in-house employee. When you hire a professional reputation manager, you are getting someone who will be adept at reputation management services far beyond crisis control and responding to negative reviews. Their whole job is to establish and promote your business’ reputation through a variety of strategies.

You might be fully capable of handling some reputation management strategies without any assistance, but how much time and energy are you willing to devote to the endeavor? Depending on your response, it could be worth looking into the services of a reputation management company. If you are interested in learning more about hiring a professional reputation manager to work with your business, reach out today!

When you consider the lasting and significant damage a negative reputation can have on your business, it is more important than ever to develop a strategy when it comes to protecting and promoting your business’ online reputation. Whether it’s to promote your business, build trust in your brand, or increase employee buy-in and loyalty, get started on your reputation management journey today.


If you’re ready to take your reputation into your own hands, you can claim your business listing for free today on Top Rated Local®. Top Rated Local is an invaluable tool that any business looking to strengthen their online reputation can use! Top Rated Local offers a powerful platform that makes it easy for you to capture and monitor reviews across multiple trusted review sites relevant to your business. The Top Rated Local stats dashboard is a powerful tool for tracking the progress of your online reputation overall, or by an individual review site. Now, you can track the number of reviews your business gets, your overall star ratings, your listing clicks, and even your Rating Score™ compared to your competitors. Not only that, but your clients or customers can leave your business reviews directly on the Top Rated Local site. Think of Top Rated Local as a one-stop-shop for all of your reputation management needs.

The Importance of Online Reputation for Family Doctors

The Importance of Online Reputation for Family Doctors

While a doctor’s service and interaction with their clients will happen almost entirely in-person, their online reputation is still critically important when it comes to attracting new patients and keeping old ones engaged. More than ever, people are trusting online reviews as their go-to when it comes to trusting businesses. If your online reputation is lacking, you will likely be losing out on some valuable business. Even medical practices who have gotten a steady stream of business thanks to in-network care can still see negative effects from having a less-than-stellar online reputation. In a recent survey done by Doctors.com, they found that approximately 80 percent of respondents have used the internet for healthcare-related searches, and that 63 percent will choose one provider over another based on their online reputation. That means that your online reputation is enough to influence your potential future patients’ decisions, and though many doctors get their new patients through network referrals, those patients are not likely to stick with you if your reviews are negative. In fact, in a 2016 survey, 48 percent of respondents said that they would choose to go out of network in order to see a provider that had better reviews than an in-network provider. All that being said, your online reputation matters now more than ever. If you have never taken the time to check on where your reputation currently stands, it can seem like a daunting task, but it is important to take that leap and take control of how your business is seen by your online audience.

We have compiled a list of our top five tips for managing your online reputation as a family doctor.

Find out where your reputation stands

To begin your journey towards a stellar reputation, start by finding out where your business currently stands. Claim your business online; it’s free, easy, and there’s no better way to get your finger on the pulse of what people are saying about you. Claiming your business can help to build trust in the eyes of your potential consumers by legitimizing your business, showing your customers that your business is real, and by giving you the power to make sure that basic information. like your phone number, address, and business name, is updated and correct. This can be a crucial first step in forming trust with your potential customers. If they google your business and call the phone number that is listed, but that number is disconnected or incorrect, they are likely going to think that your business is either closed or unreliable, and both of those options are no good for business, especially for a family doctor, where reliability tends to be one of the traits people value the most. Claiming your profiles can also help to boost your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings by providing details about your company and providing links back to your website and social media profiles. By having links from trusted sites point back to your website, you ultimately have a better chance of gaining a higher ranking in the search results. Another added benefit of claiming your profiles is that you can easily respond to your reviews. We highly recommend responding to all reviews, positive and negative, because doing so shows your audience that you are present and that care about what they have to say.

Ask for reviews and feedback

The long and short of it is businesses need reviews in order to thrive. While that is true regardless of industry, that is especially important for doctors. Many people feel nervous about going to the doctor, and seeing positive, or negative, reviews about your practice can make or break a person’s decision to become your patient. Some business owners don’t feel good about asking for reviews, but there is absolutely no shame in doing so, especially when you share with your customers how valuable their feedback is. Most people won’t write a review on their own, but according to a 2016 survey, 70 percent of customers said that if they were asked to leave a review for a business, they would. So, at the end of a visit, when a patient is thanking you for quick and compassionate care, or telling you how great your staff is or how welcoming your waiting room is, it is perfectly acceptable to tell them that the best way they can thank you is by leaving a review online. When asking for a review, you want to shy away from pushing or asking for a five-star review. It’s important to hear about your patients’ genuine experiences, so we recommend asking every patient for their feedback, and wording your request in that way. While asking for feedback in-person is a great start, there are a few other ways to kindly remind or prompt your patients to give you their feedback. One of those ways is through an email follow-up, where you can even go so far as to link your preferred review sites. Another great way to ask for feedback is through hand-written notes! This could be in the form of a thank-you note, a seasonal or holiday greeting, or a birthday card. People appreciate the time and effort it takes to write and send a letter, and even if they don’t end up writing a review, they will be more likely to refer you to a family member or friend and remember your practice when it comes time for them to get medical services.

Monitor and respond to your reviews

Once the reviews start pouring in, it’s important for you to be proactive about responding to them. Doing so boosts your credibility and likeability in the eyes of your audience. When you get a positive review, make sure to thank that patient for taking the time to leave you some feedback. When a negative review comes in, don’t panic. Though it may feel like a personal attack, people who leave negative reviews are usually feeling pretty bad, and that likely stems from feeling unheard, disregarded, or somehow not taken care of. It’s important to show your audience that you are receptive to all forms of feedback, and that you value the opportunity to improve your business or fix a bad situation. Simply responding to reviews is enough to show your audience that there is someone real on the other side of the screen who is paying attention to them. In a previous article, we outlined some of the best ways to handle your negative reviews. It is important to keep in mind that however you choose to respond and engage with your online audience, you must stay in compliance with HIPAA.

Learn how to navigate HIPAA when responding to your reviews

In the healthcare industry, it is important to remember that you have HIPAA to contend with, and that can be tricky land to navigate when it comes to responding to reviews online.

If you are worried about violating HIPAA when responding to your business’ online reviews, we suggest starting out by having a template you can draw from for both positive and negative reviews. First, you need to know what you can and can’t say, and then, you need to show your clients that you genuinely care about their experience, whether that experience was positive or negative. Even in the case of a positive review, it is important that you cannot confirm or give details about anyone’s time as a patient.

Keeping in mind that you need to avoid posting any information that identifies or confirms someone as a patient, saying something like, “I am sorry you had to wait longer than anticipated before being seen,” is in violation of HIPAA, as is, “I’m so glad you loved your experience with Dr. Mendoza!” Both of these phrases confirm that the person who left the review did, in fact, visit your practice as a patient.

When it comes to responding to a negative review, you could try something more like this:

“We strive to provide our patients with the best quality care and experience, and your feedback could help us improve. Please call our office at xxx-xxx-xxxx, and we will make the time to personally address any concerns.”

With this, you have shown a personal investment in the experience of your patients; you have highlighted a value that you hope to uphold or have shown your patients the way you hope to be known or are otherwise known; you have shown that you value feedback and are open to growth; you have shown future clients that you value online reviews, and you have not violated any of HIPAA’s privacy laws!

While not necessary, you could also feel free to mention HIPAA in your response. This might serve as a reminder to the reviewer that their concerns will not be solved or addressed further online, prompting them to take the conversation offline, as requested. If you wanted to mention HIPAA, you could add to your response:

“Due to HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot address your concerns publically, but we do want to connect with you and look forward to hearing from you.”

Inviting a patient to address their concerns offline shows them that you value them and their feedback. Oftentimes, when someone has negative feedback, their bad experience comes from a place of not feeling heard or valued. Use this opportunity to show them that this is not the case. Your actions could result in the person removing the negative review, updating it, or even becoming a loyal patient

Positive reviews deserve a little attention, too. A quick, HIPAA-safe response to a positive review shows your patients that you are paying attention to their feedback and care about them and their experience. One response could look like:

“Thank you for this feedback. We always strive to deliver the best in quality care, and we love to hear about positive experiences.”

Or:

“We value this positive feedback, and love to know when we’re doing something right. We try to always uphold our commitment to offering great value and excellent service. Thank you!”

Of course, you don’t want to copy and paste the same exact response to every single review and comment you receive, but hopefully, these templates can give you a place to start, so that you can feel confident and comfortable navigating the restrictions of HIPAA online. Remember to always be polite and professional, and to set an appropriate tone to any response you give.

Maintain a regular social media presence

Keeping an updated and interesting presence on social media is an effective way to keep in touch with your audience, earn some organic search traffic, and even give you some credibility as an expert in your field. Social media doesn’t have to be all selfies and hashtags; it can be a valuable way to show off what’s new and upcoming in your practice, highlight your exceptional staff, or even be a place where you publish articles specific to your industry. Especially in the medical field, you can show your patients that you are keeping up with the current trends and studies in the world of health and medicine, which is really important for many patients’ peace of mind! By doing this, you are not only providing useful and engaging content, but you are also establishing yourself as a leader in the industry. Maintaining a regular social media presence keeps you fresh in the eyes of your patients and gives them some familiarity with you and your practice. This might give them some extra incentive to leave you some positive feedback or share your profile with others. You can also lean into the fun side of social media and host giveaways, post silly photos, or share a bit about the behind-the-scenes life of your employees. This kind of post humanizes your practice and shows that you are fun and engaging, which can help to ease the nerves of patients who might be nervous about visits to the doctor.


We hope that these tips have been helpful to you and your business. If you are feeling ready to tackle your online reputation, we recommend getting started by claiming your business on Top Rated Local today!

Five Easy Ways To Make Your Small Business Stand Out On Black Friday

Five Easy Ways To Make Your Small Business Stand Out On Black Friday

Black Friday, the unofficial kickoff to shopping season, is finally upon us. Traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, for many, the upcoming season can make up the majority of a business’ yearly revenue. So, you’ve got your inventory stocked, your shop cleaned up, and your staff caffeinated. The competition is fierce, especially with retail giants and online shopping, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact on your shoppers. We’re going to outline a few simple ways you can stand out to all the busy, likely stressed, shoppers that visit your store. It can be easy to let a day this bustling with energy rush by in a blur of customers and transactions, but remember that you have a chance to show off what makes your store so wonderful and worth facing the crowds for.

Know your product

You have a significant advantage over online retailers here. If people have a question about a product, if a customer wants to see an example of what they are purchasing, or if they want to know what a product looks like in another color, you have the opportunity to talk with them, show them, and interact with them. You and your staff get to be the experts here, and it is important that you establish trust with your clients by showing them that you are knowledgeable and prepared.

Practice the basics

Today more than ever, you will need to showcase your finest customer service skills. You’re busy and people are stressed, so taking the time to show them that you are willing to give them individualized care and attention will stand out that much more to your customers. These might sound like the basics, but it is more important than ever to maintain and practice them. To start, smile, or at the very least, be friendly and genuine. Make eye contact when you talk to people to show them that you are engaged and listening to them. It is important that your customers feel seen and heard, as that can make a world of difference in their overall experience. Introduce yourself and try to use people’s names when you speak with them. This added level of personalized attention will put you leagues ahead of any online retailer.

Share on social media

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share content and show off the excitement of the day! Now is a great time to show your followers that people are turning up and getting what they want from your store. This might just be the motivation someone needs to get up and out of the house and into your store. This can also help you set the tone for the kind of reputation you want your business to have. Are you guys fun and silly? Genuine? You can use this day to show your audience that that is who you really are, even on what might just be the most stressful day of the year.

Say thank you

Remember to thank your customers for their support. In today’s world, it would be very easy for them to do business at a chain retailer or online, so it means something that they chose to support you. The least you could do is tell them as much. Offering some gratitude is simple, meaningful, and most likely genuine. This one-on-one attention and care might be the reason they chose to shop at a business like yours instead of at one of the chains.

Ask for feedback

Black Friday and the approaching shopping season means an influx in traffic, and each of those customers should be reminded that you would love to get their feedback online. Ideally, you will get a huge boost in your online reviews, ultimately helping out your search engine optimization, your online presence, and your overall reputation. By remembering to provide the kind of service and attention that nobody is expecting on a day as busy as Black Friday, you’re sure to stand out in peoples’ minds as being a five-star establishment worthy of a five-star rating.


We here at Top Rated Local wish the best to you, your business, and your customers during this busy season!

The Importance of Online Reputation for Locksmiths

Why Your Online Reputation Matters

Word of mouth and online reputation are vital to the success and growth of many small businesses, and that is especially true for locksmiths. The world of online reputation management may seem a bit much for your local, family-owned locksmith business, but it should not be overlooked or brushed off as being only helpful or important for younger generations. Let us fill you in on why your online reputation matters so much in the locksmithing industry and what you can accomplish by taking control of it!

People want to know that they can rely on a locksmith to offer prompt service at a reasonable price. For many, contacting a locksmith is something that is done in a moment of panic or necessity, so it is crucial to make a good first impression that reassures your customer and shows them that you are someone who is worth placing their trust in. Imagine the average person deciding they need a locksmithing service: perhaps the sun is setting, it’s getting cold, and they can’t get into their house! Or maybe they are on their way to a friend’s birthday party. They get in the car, turn it on, and start backing out the driveway, only to remember that they’ve left the gift on the dining room table. After retrieving the gift, they discover that they have locked their keys in their car. How are these people going to find a reliable locksmith? Most likely, they are going to start a frantic Google search! That is why it is so important for any reputable locksmith to make sure their company shows up on top and has some stellar reviews.

Unfortunately, there are many scammers and frauds out there looking to take advantage of people who are stuck and in need of quick locksmithing services. That has resulted in more and more people being wary or distrusting of locksmiths in general. These scammers generally work by flooding an area with fake phone numbers and business names, all of which sneakily link back to one operation. The person who shows up to perform the service will overcharge for lackluster work, often demanding cash, and will then vanish, becoming completely unreachable. Sometimes this kind of scam will even result in damaging the reputations of legitimate locksmiths, who may get flooded with angry calls because their name looks similar to the scam business.

One way you can help to stop people from getting scammed and boost your own business is to focus on having a strong online presence. Customers are more likely to trust you or see you as reliable when you pay attention to your online reputation. Think of Google, your website, and your social media pages as a more wide-reaching version of word of mouth. Here are some simple ways to take control of your online reputation today.

Claim Your Listings

Having verified listings helps to establish trust with your audience. Simply claiming the listings is enough to show your customers that yours is a valid business and that there really is someone on the other side of the screen. Claiming your listing also allows you to make edits or changes when it comes to important information, like your business name, address, and phone number. Especially in a market like the locksmithing industry that is so flooded with scammers, if a client tries to call you, but the listed number is disconnected, they are probably going to assume that your business is not a legitimate one. Claiming your business makes it easier for your clients to find you across multiple review platforms where they can leave you a review. It can also provide you an easy way to interact with your clients by compiling your reviews and allowing you to respond to them quickly. Locksmiths that have been in business for a while may have a long list of clients who could have left reviews across many different platforms, like Yelp, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Facebook, and Google — Top Rated Local can help you keep track of where your reputation stands right now by bringing all of your reviews to one place!

Ask For Reviews

For locksmiths, customer reviews are incredibly important. When you consider the number of scams out there, you can understand why seeing real people leave their feedback about a business gives that business some credibility. Ninety-three percent of people say that online reviews impact their buying decisions, and 85 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Long story short, reviews matter. If you are feeling weird about asking your customers for a review, you can say something as simple as, “It would mean a lot to us if you could go online to provide us your feedback.” This helps show your customers that you care about their experience and gives you either glowing reviews or crucial feedback, as well as credibility and a stronger online presence. Online or off, there’s no doubt that communication is valued in the service industry. Online reviews give you a unique platform where you can communicate with your customer base quickly and publically. While positive reviews will help drive business your way, there is also the chance someone will have something negative to say about your business. This isn’t the end of the world, and, when handled correctly, even a negative review can be positive for you and your image. In the chance that a negative review comes in, you can quickly address the issue, showing potential customers that you are not only communicative, but that you also value customer feedback. In some cases, you can even turn around a bad review by addressing the customer’s concerns and showing them that you care about their experience.

Post Often

At the end of the day, familiarity forms trust. One simple way to show potential customers that your business is legitimate is to update your website and social media pages regularly. People generally tend to enjoy engaging with small businesses, so whatever you can do to interact with your customers will make you stand out in their minds. Post photos of your truck, give a shoutout to a loyal employee, post a blog about how you decided to be a locksmith, or host a giveaway on Facebook! If you can add this human element to your online presence, people are going to be more likely to trust you and remember you when they are in need of the service you offer. Your social media pages can give potential customers some great insight into who you are and how you run your business. If you post a new photo every Monday at 4 pm sharp, you may be seen as consistent. Maybe you post useful tips about home safety, showing clients that you are thoughtful, or maybe you share touching stories, showing your audience how much you care about the work you do. In any case, you have the power to take control of your reputation and image.


Make managing your reputation easy with Top Rated Local

Claim your businesses and start taking control of your online reputation today with the help of Top Rated Local. It’s never been easier to get started, and best of all, it’s free!

A Feast Of Reputation Management Facts To Be Thankful For

In preparation for the approaching holiday, we have spent our day prepping a bountiful harvest of reputation management facts for your feasting pleasure.

Side Dishes

Not to be overshadowed by a giant bird, side dished bring the flavor, the top-secret family recipes, and the piles of second-helpings. We all know that side dishes are everyone’s favorite part of this whole affair. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, creamed spinach, fresh biscuits…these are the true heroes of your typical Thanksgiving dinner. Much like those much-loved meal starters, these facts and stats are here to jumpstart your appetite and get you ready for the main event.

There’s never been a better or more important time to make sure your business stands out! In fact…

    • 82 percent of smartphone shoppers are doing searches, including the phrase ‘near me’, a number that has increased by 900 percent over the last two years.

It’s more important ever to make sure that, when people are looking for a product or service you provide, you show up in their search! People WANT to support local businesses, but if they can’t find you, you might as well not exist.

    • Seven out of 10 customers will visit a business based on the information they find online.

Check-in on your website and make sure that all of the information there is up-to-date. If your phone number or address is wrong, that won’t give a potential customer much hope that you can get anything else right. Also, be sure to claim your listings! There’s no simpler way to stay on top of your reviews and make sure your contact information is correct across the board.

    • Sixty-nine percent of job seekers are likely to reject a job offer from a company with a bad reputation.

Your online reputation doesn’t just affect potential sales and customer opinions, but it can also determine the quality of candidates you have to hire from. Nobody wants to associate themselves with a company that has a bad reputation, and if they do, are they really the kind of qualified employee you are hoping for?

    • Fifty percent of potential sales are lost because consumers can’t find the information they are looking for.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that the information on your website is accurate, up to date, and easy to understand. If for no other reason, this stat alone should serve as a pretty alarming wake-up call. Nowadays, there are plenty of services that can help you create an awesome website that will not only impress potential customers, but will also provide them with the information they need to feel comfortable putting their trust in you and your business.

Main Course

Now that we’ve awakened our palates and enjoyed some tasty, if eclectic, tidbits, it’s time for the main course. Like the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, these stats are hefty, and really pack a wallop. Unbutton that top button, carve into these statistics, and load up your plate with a heaping portion of reputation management facts. Watch out for that tryptophan.

    • Worldwide, Google leads the pack with a whopping 92 percent share of all search engine traffic.

While it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that Google is the leading search engine, it’s important to remember not to ignore that other 8%. If anything, this stat highlights how important it is to check on and update your profiles across the board. This stat also acts as a glaring reminder that, if your business doesn’t show up on Google, you need to work on improving your standings in the SERP (search engine results pages).

Your website isn’t the only way you can reach a broader audience. By using social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, more people will be able to interact with you, share your business page, and see your content. Having a strong presence online is necessary in order to stand out and be seen.

    • Ninety-two percent of searchers will choose a business on the first page of local search results.

Google’s algorithms are ranking you based on the quality and length of the content on your page, your inbound links, your keywords, and a host of other factors. Very few people will continue their search past the first page, so it is important to do what you can to show up on top.

    • Ninety-one percent of customers ages 18 to 34 trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations.

Your reviews matter! Start taking control of your online reputation first by finding out where you currently stand. Claim your listings today to get started. Your positive reviews will give your business credibility and will act as referrals for potential customers. Even your negative reviews can be positive for you if you respond to them and show your customers that you care about their experience and are willing to reach out and make things right.

    • Eight out of 10 internet users in the United States have said that negative information they read online made them change their minds about a purchasing decision.

Negative reviews don’t have to be the end of the world for your reputation. In a previous article, we outlined some best practices for how to handle a bad review. To start, make sure you are aware of the reviews you’re getting and make sure to respond to all of them! One of the worst things you can do is ignore your reviews, especially the bad ones. Get on top of negative reviews by showing your audience that you are willing to acknowledge that someone is upset and are willing to make the situation right.

Dessert

After a hearty meal and more than enough time with family, the last thing on your mind is more food, but wait…is that…pie? Well, maybe a bite of something sweet is the perfect way to end the night. Rounding off our three courses of reputation management facts, we’ve got some simple and sweet tidbits for you to enjoy.

    • You can watch some really interesting Internet Live Stats! At the time of writing this, there were more than 78,000 Google searches happening every one second!

If you ever need a reminder about the importance of having a presence online, this site is sure to give you a much-needed boost!

    • Effective content marketing can increase your traffic by 2,000 percent!

Start a blog, post photos of your staff, respond to reviews, update your website, and do what you can to put useful, interesting content into the world! Your customers will notice the extra effort, and Google will be more likely to rank you higher.

    • It’s projected that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches!

In a previous article, we outlined some of the ways you can optimize your site for voice search. Virtual assistants are becoming more and more popular, so get ahead of the trend and make sure your business is ready for an influx of customers using voice search to find their goods and services.

Try googling yourself to see what potential customers would see. Unimpressed with your ranking or with what information about you exists out there? There are heaps of resources out there ready to help you turn your reputation around and get your online presence glowing!

    • When consumers compare two items with similar ratings, they are more likely to purchase the product with the most reviews.

Remind your customers how much you value their feedback, and let them know that you would really appreciate an online review. Their feedback will add to your credibility, give potential future customers a reason to choose your business, or give you crucial feedback you may not have otherwise thought of!


We hope you enjoyed this fabulous spread of information. If you are excited to get a jumpstart on managing your reputation today, we recommend you check out Top Rated Local to get your listings claimed for free. If you celebrate, we here at Top Rated Local wish you a safe and happy holiday; may all your leftover sandwiches be epic.