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!

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!

Common Customer Complaints & How to Avoid them

Customers complain about a lot of things in reviews, and the best way to deal with those complaints is to learn to avoid them altogether.

Protect your online reputation by learning to avoid common customer complaints.

Business owners these days know that their online reputation is vitally important to their success — online and off – and it’s also why a negative review can seem like the end of the world. In previous blogs, we’ve talked about why a couple of negative reviews can actually be beneficial for your overall online reputation, as well as how you can turn around the situation by knowing how to respond like a pro.

But at the end of the day, no business wants to get a negative online review, and even though they don’t have to be the end of the world, all businesses would do well to avoid as many negative reviews as possible. That’s why we’ve come up with this list of the most common things customers complain about in negative reviews and what you can do to avoid those complaints.

Top Five Customer Complaints and How to Avoid Them

Customer Complaint #1. Failure to keep promises.

Businesses make promises to customers every day, and the ones with the happiest, most satisfied customers are the ones that keep those promises. On the other side of the coin, nothing can ruin a customer’s experience with a company more than the failure to keep a promise. Trust is something that takes a long time to build in any relationship — and that’s true regardless of whether we’re talking about personal relationships or relationships between customers and businesses. Unfortunately, that trust can be shattered after just one bad experience, which is why failure to keep promises is such a difficult complaint to truly resolve. After all, why should the customer trust you to follow through with your promise to fix the issue when you failed to follow through the first time?

What can you do to avoid it?

Don’t make promises you can’t keep – To put it simply, you should never make a promise if you aren’t 100-percent certain that you’ll be able to keep it. Even if you think there’s a strong possibility you can keep it, it’s better to be honest than it is to end up failing to follow through on a promise.
Train your employees – Everyone should always be on the same page within your business; otherwise, one of your employees may end up promising something that can’t be followed through on. Teaching your employees to effectively communicate can also help to ensure that your business is always keeping its promises.
Be honest about roadblocks – Sometimes, you fully intend to follow through on a promise, but circumstances get in the way and prevent you from doing so. And sometimes, those circumstances are completely out of your hands. Your best course of action in these kinds of situations is to simply be honest with the client and let them know how you plan to fix it. Sure, they may be a little upset, but the vast majority of clients will understand and respect you for your honesty.

Customer Complaint #2. Being shuffled between customer service representatives.

Have you ever called a customer service hotline, explained the issue you’re having, only to have to explain it to three or four more people until you’re finally transferred to someone who can help you? From a customer’s perspective, this can be infuriating, and it certainly doesn’t leave the impression that your business is operating with competence. It also has the unfortunate effect of making the client feel undervalued, which can leave them looking to fill their needs elsewhere in the future.

Most businesses are fully aware of how bad it looks when customers are shuffled around from person to person, and just as it can create a negative experience for the customer, it can also be a waste of resources for the business. If a situation can be resolved by the right person the first time, it saves several people from having to give up their time to address the situation, which means that your business can operate more efficiently and functionally.

What can you do to avoid it?

Train your employees – One common reason why customers get shifted from customer service rep to customer service rep is that they don’t all have the same level of knowledge, experience or ability, and additional training can help them all feel more comfortable in helping clients deal with a greater variety of needs. Another area of training could be in who to turn to in specific situations. Sometimes, shuffling clients around is unavoidable, but it’s much better for them to deal with two people than it is for them to deal with three or four.
Invest in a better answering system – If yours is one of the many businesses that has an automated answering service, it might be time to upgrade yours to one that offers a menu of options for clients to choose from. This way, they can find the right person to speak with right away.
Empower more of your employees – Sometimes, customers get tossed back and forth between customer service reps because only one or two people have the power to actually help them. You don’t necessarily have to entrust every employee in your business with the same amount of responsibility, but if there’s a certain issue that is routinely being tossed from person to person, you might consider giving more people the ability to handle it.

Customer Complaint #3. Being surprised by fees or other unpleasant information.

Imagine yourself in this situation: you’re working with a remodeling contractor to remodel your kitchen. You work out an agreement with them on the overall cost of the project, which will be a stretch for your budget but you’re committed to the work. Then, when all is said and done, you’re blindsided with hidden fees. This is not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, and it can definitely leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths.

Hidden fees aren’t the only nasty surprises that can derail a customer’s experience with your business. Any hidden information, like how a business uses a customer’s data or personal information, risks or possible downsides of a service or product and additional options the client could have chosen, can hinder a customer’s trust in your business and leave them with less-than-positive feelings about your business.

What can you do to avoid it?

Educate your customers instead of deciding for them – Let’s say you own an HVAC company. Your client would save money over time if they bought a new furnace instead of repairing the old one, and the decision may seem like a no brainer to you, but you still have to let the client decide. You should, of course, ensure that they understand the real pros and cons of each option, but you shouldn’t hold back any options from a client just because you don’t think they are the right ones.
Be as upfront and transparent as possible – Whether we’re talking about how your business handles personal information or fees, it’s essential that you’re always as upfront as possible with your customers. No one likes to be kept in the dark, and it’s important that people understand what they’re getting when they work with your business.
Train your employees – It’s possible that a customer didn’t get the whole message because an employee failed to give it to them. Or maybe it’s because an employee made a mistake that they failed to own up to. Either way, training your employees to communicate more honestly will help to provide your customers with a better overall experience.

Customer Complaint #4. Rude or unfriendly staff.

We’ve all been there: you’ve gotten off of work late, and you’re in the drive-thru or stopping by your go-to takeout place for a quick bite. You’re already a little frustrated because you’ve had a long day, and the restaurant got your order wrong. You explain the situation to the host or clerk as calmly as you can, only to have them roll their eyes at you and ask what you want them to do about it. In these kinds of situations, even the coolest heads have trouble prevailing, and now, not only are you frustrated, but you’re well on your way to angry and probably won’t be frequenting that restaurant ever again.

Not every situation is as overt as this. Sometimes, customers pick up on subtle things, like body language, that makes them feel like a burden. On other occasions, an employee’s disinterest or neglect could do just as much damage. In any form, rude employees are the bane of any business, and they can do serious damage to your online reputation if you’re not careful.

What can you do to avoid it?

Train your employees – Every business should have standards in place for how customers should be treated, and it’s incredibly important that you make those standards common knowledge. You should also work directly with your employees every day to ensure that they know how big of a role customer service plays in customer satisfaction, as well as their role in providing that service.
Trim the fat if necessary – While training is always a great course of action when an employee is ambivalent or rude, in some cases, they just aren’t the right fit for your business and you may have to make the tough choice of letting them go. Chances are, if an employee is acting that way toward customers, they aren’t happy in their position anyway. Do them and yourself a favor by putting someone in that role who actually wants to be there.
Raise your hiring standards – It’s much easier to provide great customer service when you hire people who are committed to it before they even start working with you. A lot of people want to do a good job for their customers and take pride in their work, and those are the type of people you want in a role with direct customer interaction.

Customer Complaint #5. Delays in service.

We all lead busy lives, and some days people have less patience for waiting than other days. Imagine you’re having one of those less-than-patient days, and that, instead of getting your order wrong like in our previous example, the restaurant takes 10 minutes longer than they said they would to get your food out to you, leaving you feeling a little on the hangry and impatient side.

Waiting is an unavoidable part of life, and there are a whole host of reasons a customer may need to wait. One of your employees may have had a personal emergency that prevented them from coming to work, leaving you short-staffed and unable to be as efficient as usual. Your supplier may have had a delay, which has led to delays following through on orders or services. The delay may be caused by something you have absolutely no control over, like the weather.

What can you do to avoid it?

Make honesty your best policy – Many of the examples we covered of why delays happen are out of your control, and when things like that come up, all you can do is be as honest as possible with your customers and offer to make up for any inconvenience at a later date. Most customers will understand and give you a break if you’re honest, but if you try to sweep the problem under the rug and act like everything is fine, the delay will likely leave them upset.
Warn customers of potential delays – If you’re aware that there’s something that may cause a delay, it’s in your best interest to be upfront with your customers about it. Sure, if a customer knows a delay might occur, they might choose to go elsewhere with their business, but if they know about potential delays ahead of time and they still want to work with you, they won’t be blindsided if delays happen and will be much happier for it at the end of the day.
Have a backup plan in place – In some circumstances, if a potential delay can be foreseen, it can also be avoided by having a backup plan in place. For example, if you rely on every member of the team showing up, it might be good to hire some as-needed help during flu season, or even during the holidays when lots of people are out visiting family.


Bad reviews happen. Learn how to manage them with Top Rated Local®.

There are lots of things that you can do to avoid the ire of your customers. But even the best businesses get bad reviews from time to time. It truly is how you handle those reviews that makes the biggest difference in how they affect your business’ online reputation. If you ignore a negative review or leave unattended, it’ll only fester, and that inattention actually gives more weight and truth to the review. But if you make it a point to respond to that review, own up to your mistakes, apologize and make it right, not only might you win over the customer who had a negative experience, but you might also win over potential customers researching your business online.

The best way to deal with negative reviews is promptly, and when you claim your Top Rated Local listing, you’ll get real-time notifications when you receive new reviews, as well as a whole host of other tools that can help you better build and maintain your business’ online reputation, including a Rating Score™ that will give you an idea of your online reputation as a whole and monthly reports on your online reputation. Best of all, you get all of this at no cost to you. Start taking ownership of your business’ online reputation. Become a Top Rated Local business today!

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!

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!

Ethics and Reputation Management

An Ethical Approach to Reputation Management

Word of mouth has always been one of the main ways small businesses have gotten their name out and grown. While the value of word of mouth is undeniable, online reputation is playing a bigger and more prominent role than ever in how a business is seen by its potential customers. One of the key functions of your online reputation is offering a presentation of your company, and ideally, giving customers a reason to trust you. Trust plays a huge role in whether or not a potential customer will choose you over any other business. In this day and age, trust is one of the most important things your business can have. In a 2013 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, customers identified authenticity as one of the top qualities that would attract them to a brand, and according to BrightLocal, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews from other customers just as much as they would recommendations from peers. In other words, a bad reputation, or no reputation, can kill your business.

It is important to navigate the world of online reputation management in a way that is viewed as ethical. Ethics is defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. With that in mind, there are some simple ways to stay on top of your online reputation while acting in a way that is also ethical.

Here are five simple do’s and don’ts when it comes to managing your online reputation ethically.

Don’t:

Don’t assume your reputation will speak for itself

It’s entirely possible that you’re the best at what you do, you have incredible employees, and your customers have absolutely loved and benefited from your service. While all of that can be true, if you are not actively monitoring and promoting your online reputation, you will stay practically invisible to a large potential audience. When a potential client first discovers your business, they will be quick to make judgments and buying decisions based on what they find online. At the end of the day, your reputation isn’t going to speak for itself. If you don’t showcase a strong online presence, that potential client is just going to turn the other way. One easy and ethical way to start promoting your business is by asking the people that have loved your service to leave you some feedback online.

Don’t create fake reviews

While this one seems like it should be a no-brainer, fake reviews are actually, sadly, pretty common and definitely unethical. This one goes two ways — don’t create fake negative reviews for a competitor, and don’t create fake positive reviews for yourself. This shady tactic is not only unethical, but it’s also not legal. According to The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), online endorsements cannot be misleading, cannot publish fake or unfounded claims, and must disclose any relationship or connection between the reviewer and the company. The cost of violating these guidelines could be steep since the FTC has the legal authority to charge significant fines or even shut down a business. In one case in 2017, the FTC fined a car dealer in California $3.6 million for encouraging its employees to pose as customers and post fake positive reviews about the company.

Don’t create negative content about your competitors

In a continuation of the last point, keep in mind that creating fake reviews is certainly unethical, and sometimes illegal. It is absolutely not worth risking your business to trash talk the competition. When it comes to defamation and libel, the traditional rules apply to online content, which means that leaving fake negative comments for a competing business is likely going to get you into way more trouble than it’s worth. If you want to do something that is actually beneficial to your business, take a look through your competitors’ actual negative reviews and see if the ways they are failing are things that your company can excel in. For example, if their customers have commented about their cold and unwelcoming waiting room, you can really stand out by offering a comfortable and fun space for your clients to hang out in! By monitoring actual feedback instead of inventing fake feedback, you might end up learning something valuable about what your potential customers are looking for.

Don’t spam

Spamming, or ‘spamdexing’ the internet, with lackluster or false content can have an effect on search results and your ranking in them, and is definitely an unethical practice. There are many ways to create content

spam or link spam, many of which are deceptive. Algorithms are used by the major search engines in order to figure out where to rank a website by figuring out what keywords and category the website is relevant to. Some businesses operate under the idea that any content is good content and will create spam content in the form of articles or blogs that, to a reader, will look like garbage, but to an algorithm, might be full of keywords that might boost the website’s standing.

Don’t try to erase the past

There is a false notion out there that managing your online reputation means getting rid of the mistakes or criticisms your business has run into, and instead, showing the public a flawless and perfected version of your business. While you do want to highlight the good, it’s unethical to simply pretend the bad doesn’t exist, or to try and hide it from the world. Besides, the ‘delete’ button isn’t going to wipe you or your mistakes from people’s memories.

Do:

Practice transparency

Trust is everything for small business, and one simple way to build trust is to offer transparency to your audience. By offering transparency in your business, you are showing your clients that your business is open, honest, and worth trusting. One study found that 94 percent of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency. If you are willing to be upfront about your practices, you are that much more likely to gain bought-in, loyal customers. If you can’t offer it, potential customers can all too easily continue their search until they find a company they are happy to place their trust in.

Establish your business’ core values

This is one simple way to show your audience the kinds of things that are important to you as a company. It can also help to make sure your employees are aware of the kind of business you are, and how to act according to the values you establish. When your employees and your potential clients understand what you stand for, it helps them to decide if you are worth investing time and money in.

Learn from your mistakes, and from the mistakes of others

Accepting feedback and doing something about it is a responsible and professional way to handle your business. Customers will take notice that you care about their experience and are not too proud to learn and grow. In some cases, making a change after receiving negative feedback will make you and your business look even better than if nothing had been wrong in the first place! People respect someone who can learn and change, and customers certainly want to feel heard, appreciated, and valued. You can also learn from the mistakes of your competitors by seeing where they are falling behind in reviews and focusing on being great in those areas.

Publish valuable content

Content marketing is one of the best ways to add value to your business. By creating content, you are able to share information with your clients and become known as an expert in your field. When you share quality content, you make it clear that you are knowledgeable, useful, and worth following. The things you share are able to help you connect with your audience, establishing a relationship based on trust and familiarity. If you want to be seen and remain relevant, you need to participate in content marketing.

Stay Active

Keep in mind that consistency is key when it comes to marketing your business and keeping up with your reputation. Maintain a schedule when it comes to posting content, checking your reviews, and responding to your reviews. Again, this links to trustworthiness. Show your audience that their time matters by showing them consistency and excellence in all you do.

The Importance Of Reputation Management For Plumbers

Your online reputation is vital to your company’s success

The world of online reputation management may seem a bit too much for your local, family-owned plumbing company, but it definitely should not be overlooked or brushed off as being only helpful for younger generations. Let us fill you in on why your online reputation matters and what you can accomplish by taking control of it! By understanding and managing your online reputation, you can gain valuable insight into the minds of your customers, see where your reputation is shining or lacking, and communicate with your current and potential future clients!

What your reviews tell people

Whether for last-minute emergency services or a long-awaited planned project, when it comes time for the average consumer to choose a plumber, most people are going to turn to the internet before deciding who to hire. As a local business, your online reputation can make or break you. Today, your online reviews hold as much weight as word of mouth has in the past. In fact, 88-percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they would trust a personal recommendation. While positive reviews can help get your name out and grow your business, negative reviews can result in a bad reputation, which will undoubtedly harm your business.

Your loyal fans, your current customers, and an untold number of future potential customers are using online reviews every day to make their purchasing decisions. Think about it, from the most mundane household products, like sponges and hand soap, all the way up to important services, like optometrists and family doctors, people almost never choose a product or service without doing some research first. That means that it is more important than ever to stay on top of and manage your online reputation. Think of your reviews as the new word of mouth or referral.

Imagine a potential customer searches for local plumbers and comes across your page and a competitor’s page. Your page has no reviews and theirs has a few positive reviews scattered across Facebook and Google. That customer is most likely going to go with the business that people have recommended through their reviews! Many times, people are looking for a plumber with some level of urgency, and the average person doesn’t have much, if any, plumbing knowledge, so they really rely on those reviews to help them know which business to trust! Plumbing is a competitive industry, and you can be the best plumber in the city, but if potential customers aren’t told as much by someone other than yourself, they have no reason to believe you.

Check out your competition

Not only can your online reputation give you a leg-up in the industry, but it can also give you some good insight into what customers care about. Browse through the reviews of some of your competitors. What are the top compliments and criticisms being made about other businesses in your field? Maybe you hadn’t thought to really focus on communication, but you’ve noticed that that’s one of the things people complain about the most. You can help your business to stand out even more by going out of your way to be the best when it comes to communication! You commit to responding to all voicemails by the end of the day, you start to send out follow-up emails, and maybe you even set up your employees with a texting service so they can let the customer know when they are on their way. Soon enough, excellent communication skills

become something you are known for! By seeing where others are struggling, you can get a good idea about what is going on in the minds of the consumers, as well as what they value and what tends to bother them the most.

You can also see where you might be outshining your competitors! By reading through the reviews, you might notice that you’re the only local company that keeps getting compliments about your friendly technicians. You can lean into that when it comes to your branding. Start by saying that customer service is something you’re known for, because at this point, it is, and you have the reviews to back that up!

Make yourself more visible

It is crucial for you to show up as one of the top results when someone searches for businesses in your industry. In fact, it’s been shown that 75-percent of people never scroll past the first page of search engine results! If you don’t show up on that first page, it’s almost as bad as not showing up at all. If you’re trying to buy your way to the top with keywords and paid ads, get ready to shell out the big bucks. An easier, and significantly cheaper, way to boost your visibility is through reviews. Your SEO (search engine optimization) is boosted when you provide original, fresh content, and new customer reviews are a form of content that not only helps by giving you precious feedback, but also helps to get your brand noticed by those algorithms that can push you to the top!

Communicate with your customers

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 consumer base quickly and publically. If 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.

Make managing your reputation easy with Top Rated Local

Plumbers who have been in business for a while will and have a long list of clients probably also have 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 is by bringing them all to one place! It has never been easier to take control of your online reputation, and with some help from Top Rated Local, you can quickly get the shining reputation you’ve dreamed of.

5 Useful Tips to Maintain a Great Online Reputation

As a modern business owner, you know how helpful reviews can be to your business and you completely understand why an awesome online reputation is so important in 2018. But, when it comes to actually getting the reviews… you’re a little fuzzy, to say the least. Let us help you with that. At Top Rated Local®, we want your online reputation to be awesome just as badly as you do — yes, really. After all, our entire job is to make sure that good businesses are succeeding and that your potential customers know just how great you are! Here are five of the best things you can do to make sure your reviews are working for you:

1. Offer Rewards and Incentives

Everybody loves to be rewarded for their actions — especially when that reward is a chance to win something cool or get some sort of discount. For businesses, reward and incentive programs are an incredibly useful tool in soliciting online reviews. Many businesses choose to offer things, like free shipping, raffle entries, and promo codes or coupons for discounts ranging from 10 to 50 percent to those who choose to leave reviews. The best part about the reward program tactic is that it really shows your customers that you value their feedback, be it overwhelmingly positive or simply constructive.

2. Participate in the Appropriate Community Events

Participating in events around your local community is great for business. Being active in your community can not only bring in more business but also helps to get your business reviews. The key to success is to participate in the right community events. For example, your funeral home business may not want to advertise or ask for reviews at a high school football game. However, for a printing company, this might be a perfect opportunity to hand out free signs in support of the team with a prompt for reviews on the back. It’s all about finding what fits for you and your business.

3. Don’t Be Clingy

We’ve all been there — you buy something online or even in person, and a week and 10,000 “how did we do?” emails later, you’re hitting the spam button (and in all likelihood, never shopping there again). You wouldn’t accept this kind of behavior from a friend or a partner, so why would you accept it from a business? Don’t be the kind of business that overwhelms their customers just to get reviews. You want to remind your customers that you’re there, without begging for their reviews. We recommend gathering phone numbers and/or email addresses and sending out one review message (either email or SMS) per transaction.

4. Do Accept Feedback

No matter who you are or how well your business is doing, there are sure to be things that can be improved upon. If you’re getting the influx of reviews you want, chances are, not all of them are going to be overwhelmingly positive. Some may have some valuable feedback that you can build upon. In fact, growing in accordance to that feedback can make it so that future reviews are substantially more positive. After all, if one customer notices an issue, in all likelihood, others have too. You don’t want these issues to continue harming your online reputation.

5. Use Your Manners

This one takes it all the way back to preschool, where you learned to say “please” and “thank you”. Sending thank you messages after reviews encourages people you serve to continue updating every time they have a great experience with you. It will also show them how much you really do appreciate the effort they put into showing their appreciation and helping you better your business.

Bonus Tip: Use Top Rated Local®

Made to benefit both businesses and the consumer, Top Rated Local captures experience ratings from a wide range of review sources. This gives you a clear snapshot of your online reputation, as well as a numerical Rating Score™ that provides you with an idea as to how you’re doing overall. A useful tool for any business, Top Rated Local bases its ratings on the five pillars of quality, satisfaction, value, experience, and timelessness. See what this simple, yet useful feedback can do for your business by claiming your profile today.