Maintaining a Strong Online Reputation This Holiday Season

During the holidays, it’s more important than ever to have a strong online reputation.

‘Tis the season to get your business’ online reputation in order.

Every store you turn to is playing holiday music. Lights sparkle on homes. Eggnog is in stock once again. In other words, the holidays are finally here at last.

The holiday season is a busy time of the year for most businesses, and not just retail. People want to look their best for holiday photos, leading to an increase in business for barber shops and beauty salons. People host their out-of-town family members, giving local restaurants more business and the need for plumbers to unclog more toilets. People get a little stressed by all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, which leads them to treat themselves with a massage or a trip to their favorite nail salon.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of business to be had over the holiday season, and if you want to cash in on some of that business, you need your business to be found online and you also need to have the right kind of online reputation behind you to encourage your customers to keep choosing you, and to encourage new customers to choose you, too.

10 Reputation Management Tips for the Holiday Season

#1. Make sure that your staff is ready.

The holiday season leads to an increase in activity for your business, and it’s essential that you know that your staff is ready to handle it. This might mean that it’s time to hire a little extra help for the holidays. Not only does seasonal help enable you to handle a greater number of customers, but it also frees up more of your time to focus on your online reputation. Seasonal help can make it easier to survive during the holidays, and employing seasonal employees gives them a few extra dollars to help them create holiday bliss.

In addition to making sure that you have the appropriate number of people to help your staff, you should also ensure that your staff is trained properly to handle the increase in business. It won’t help very much to have more staff members if they are constantly turning to with questions or guidance. Make sure that every member of your staff is properly trained and as dedicated as possible to providing a great experience for your customers.

#2. Manage/claim your listings.

One of the most important aspects of reputation management is managing and claiming your business listings across any and every review platform and/or directory site that it’s listed on. This is something that you should make a point of doing as soon as you can — holiday season or not — as it’s a key part of ensuring that your business stays successful online.

If your business is already listed on review sites and/or directories, what’s the point of claiming or managing your listings? The algorithms that pull information into these directory sites and review sites don’t always get it right, and it’s essential that you make sure that the information out there about your business is accurate. If someone sees an outdated listing on Yelp or Facebook and tries to get ahold of you, it doesn’t send a very good message when the number listed no longer works or when they drive to your old location only discover that you’ve already moved.

#3. Stay relevant by posting content regularly.

Businesses these days absolutely have to stay relevant if they want to stay in the public eye, which is essential during this time of the year. When your customers have a need that you can meet, you want your business’ name to be the first thing they think of, and one of the best ways to ensure that that happens is to post content regularly on your website and social media platforms.

Ensure that your business ranks highly in the SERP (search engine results pages) so that you can be found when people google related search keywords by blogging regularly. Keep consumers in the know about any up-and-coming sales or events you may be having by publishing a press release. Stay in contact with your customers and help them see the personal side of your business by posting on social media.

#4. Make customer service a top priority.

The holiday season is the perfect time of the year to show off your customer service skills, and when you have so many customers to work with, it can lead to an increase in reviews for your business, both good and bad. And the kind of customer service you provide will have a direct impact on the kind of reviews your business gets during the holidays.

In addition to helping you get more reviews during the holidays, by focusing on customer service, you can also help to increase customer loyalty, which leads to an increase in spending and a decrease in the need for customers to look elsewhere.

#5. Start a campaign to generate more reviews.

Reviews are the bread and butter of a business’ online reputation, and the more reviews you can get, the better off your business will be. The holidays are a great time of the year to generate more reviews for your business because of the increase in customers you’re likely to receive, and there are a lot of simple things you can do to encourage your customers to leave you more reviews this holiday season:

  • Ask for feedback – The simplest way to get more reviews for your business is simply to ask. Sadly, most people won’t write reviews on their own no matter what kind of service you provide, but when you ask, more people are more than happy to leave a review.
  • Send follow-up emails – After someone has shopped with you or relied on you for service, send an email following up about their experience. This is also a good opportunity to send customers a link to the review sites you prefer they use.
  • Make it convenient for them – The easier you can make leaving your business a review, the more likely your customers will leave you a review. That’s why it’s important to ensure that your business is listed on a variety of sites, so that your customers don’t have to set up a profile on a new review site in order to review you. Another way to make the process convenient is to have a tablet in your shop that customers can use to leave you a review in the moment, which means that you don’t have to rely on them to leave you a review on their own later on.

#6. Respond to your reviews.

When your customers take the time to write a review for your business, it behooves you to wait a few minutes to respond to them, especially if the review is negative, the customer asked a question in the review, there was a complaint or the review consisted of particularly kind feedback. If someone leaves you a blank review with five stars, there’s no reason to respond, but when someone shares their genuine experience with your business, making it a point to respond will show them that you appreciate them.

Not all responses to reviews are made equal, and if you want to make a good impression, it’s important to get your response right. Here are a few tips to help you respond to reviews like a pro:

  • Don’t wait; respond promptly. Believe it or not, a lot of people expect a response to their review within a few days, so make sure that you don’t put it off for too long.
  • Whether the review is negative or positive, always thank the customer for making it a point to write it in the first place.
  • If the review is negative, it’s important to apologize, and that’s true regardless of whether the review paints an accurate picture of what really happened or not.
  • Don’t argue online. Whatever you do, don’t get into an argument with someone reviewing your business online, even if you don’t think the review was fair. Instead, give them your contact information and invite them to call you to discuss the matter further online.

#7. Interact with your clients through social media.

As we mentioned previously, posting content to your website and social media profiles is a great way to stay relevant over the holidays, but posting content is just one part of a healthy social media management strategy. You also need to regularly monitor your social media profiles so that you can respond to any feedback or customer interaction online, and you’ll be in the know about what people are saying about your business on social media.

Whether people are interacting with your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, it’s important to give them a little love. When you interact on social media, you’ll be demonstrating that you truly care. Not only that, but your customers expect for you to interact with them online, and in a timely fashion. When a customer interacts with you through Facebook, they expect a response within six hours, and when someone interacts with you through Twitter, they expect a response within just an hour.

#8. Keep your emotions in check.

Emotions run high during the holiday season. Feelings of depression, anxiety and family discord are all magnified during the holidays, making everything just a bit more challenging. On top of that, a lot of people thrive on the holiday parties and excitement, which means that your emotions might be running the gamut, and it can be more difficult to keep them in check and act professionally day to day.

But regardless of whether you’re writing a blog for your website, designing a social media post or responding to a negative review, whatever you do, keep those emotions in check. This is especially tricky when you’re dealing with feedback online that you may deem unfair, inauthentic or downright fake, and the last thing you need is to get into an emotional brawl with someone online for the world to see.

Although people expect a response in a timely manner when they interact with your business on review sites or social media, it’s important not to rush your response, especially if you’re feeling emotional. You’re better off taking a breath and collecting your thoughts than jumping into an emotional response that will only accomplish making you look bad online.

#9. Be in the know.

The more you know about your business’ online reputation as a whole, the better you’ll be able to manage it and make it as strong as possible. But with your business listed on so many different sites, how can you possibly keep track of all of them? Luckily, Top Rated Local has a solution for you.

Top Rated Local is not like any other review site out there. When consumers are checking out a business on Top Rated Local, not only will they be able to read the business’ Top Rated Local reviews, but they’ll also be able to read that business’ reviews from Yelp, Google, Facebook and a long list of other verified review sources. Top Rated Local also provides each business with its own Rating Score™ (with 100.00 being the highest), which is determined by the number of review sites the business is listed on, the number of reviews they have and the average star rating of their reviews, among other things. With the Rating Score, consumers can get a good idea of how a business stacks up against their competition and businesses can keep a pulse on their online reputation easily.

Another thing you can do to keep a close eye on your business’ online reputation is to set up Google Alerts, which will keep you in the know about conversations surrounding your business. Google Alerts are free, quick to set up, easy to use and can be delivered every time your brand gets mentioned, once a day or even once a month. In addition to monitoring your brand, you can also use Google Alerts to monitor what people are saying about your competitor’s subjects of interest and questions in your industry and more.

#10. Consider hiring a professional to manage your online reputation.

The fact of the matter is that building and managing your business’ online reputation takes money, attention and — hardest of all to find — time, and that’s especially true during the holiday season when reputation management becomes a priority. The last thing that you want is to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and leave your online reputation in the dust, and by when you hire a professional, you’ll get the help you need to get all of your i’s dotted and your t’s crossed without dropping a single ball.

When you hire an experienced reputation manager for your business, you can ensure that your business is always putting its best foot forward online, your business could become more of an authority in your industry, you’ll gain powerful insights into your reputation management strategy and you’ll likely see an increase in sales! The benefits of hiring a reputation manager can’t be overlooked, but the biggest reason to get some help is that it frees up more of your time to manage your business, help your customers and do everything else on your ever-growing to-do list.

Are you interested in learning more about hiring a professional reputation manager to work with your business? Get started today!

Become a Top Rated Local business today!

With so many people out there looking to spend a little money this holiday season, it’s the perfect time to start building and maintaining the kind of online reputation you want. And when you have Top Rated Local on your side — including the invaluable tools, like the five pillars of the customer experience, real-time review notifications, the ability to respond to your reviews, monthly email updates about your online reputation, syndicated reviews on Google Maps and the one-of-a-kind Rating Score — you’ll be able to manage your business’ online reputation from one convenient place.

And the best part about joining Top Rated Local (or claiming your profile if you already have one) is that you get all of this without having to spend a dime. That’s right, signing up for Top Rated Local is absolutely free. Sign up today!

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