Reputation Management Services for Small Businesses
Think about the last time you had to hire a new company to do a job for you, or the last time you purchased a new product. How did you determine what company to hire or product to buy? In most cases, you probably turn to Google and quickly ascertain who is offering what and at what price.
Today’s consumer has become quite savvy when it comes to researching products and services before making a purchase. And thanks to search engines and social media, it now takes very little time or effort to perform this research. For customers, this ease of research is great but for businesses - especially small businesses - it can be hit or miss. One negative Yelp review or one angry customer’s rant on Facebook can have staggering consequences for a small business. On the flip side, a heartfelt story from a satisfied customer or several five-star ratings can help reassure potential customers and make them more willing to buy.
Consider these statistics:
Companies are vulnerable to losing as many as 22% of customers if a customer happens upon an article criticizing a company’s service or product. And that number shoots up to 59.2% if three articles pop up showing disgruntled opinions of a company or a company’s product or service.
80% of customers have had a change of heart about a particular product after finding negative reviews online.
Negative online reviews also have the potential to turn prospective consumers away from the outset as well. In fact, 94% of customers report that a negative review resulted in them avoiding a business.
But what about the good news? If you have great reviews from happy customers, you’ll see it in your bottom line because customers may spend up to 31% more on a business with good reviews.
With these statistics in mind, it’s clear that your company’s reputation is crucial to your success. So, what can you do to support a positive brand image online? Beyond providing excellent customer service and quality products, you need to make online business reputation management a priority. It doesn’t matter if you’re running an enterprise or a small business, customers are going to be talking about it online – especially if they have a negative experience. It’s important to stay ahead of the chatter by positioning your company as a knowledgeable resource and quality solution for current and potential customers.
Below, you’ll find out what there is to know about reputation management services, or use the jump links to skip to a section that may answer your questions.
Managing Your Company’s Reputation
Managing your company’s reputation starts with building your brand. Your brand is more than the services you provide, it is the entire experience your customers have with your company. From the seamless navigation on your website to the quality of your services, your brand story should be woven into every interaction that your customers have with you. Establish your brand and write your brand story in a way that draws potential customers to you.
Here are a few strategies on building a brand and how to determine what you want your brand to say about you and how to tell your brand story:
Focus on Value: If you’re posting on social media just to post, then you’re doing it wrong. As mentioned earlier, today’s consumers are savvy and they are also strapped for time, so make sure that you are focusing on quality over quantity. Provide your audience with information that they can use, and position yourself as a thought leader and a trusted source of information.
While the occasional meme is a fun addition to your social media, you’ll get a lot more traction with an informational blog post that helps your customers solve a relevant problem or address a pain point for them.
Differentiate Yourself: There is no better way to connect with your customers and set yourself apart from your competitors than with telling a compelling story. Whether it’s a heartfelt anecdote of how you helped a customer in a desperate situation or a lighthearted article about a funny mishap, a compelling story will grab your audience’s attention and solidify your place in their minds in a way that an ad simply cannot do.
Align Your Marketing: Once you’ve built your brand and determined your brand story, then it’s time to make sure that that story is told consistently throughout all of your customer touchpoints. Ensure that your logo, brand colors and tone of voice are consistent across all of your platforms – from your website to your print collateral.
Then, make sure the images and content you’re posting are consistent with your brand message across all channels. Remember, consistency is the key to a strong brand strategy.
The Importance of Customer Reviews
If you’ve ever thought that online reviews are just not that important to the success of your business, consider these facts: 93% of consumers use reviews to determine if a local business is good or bad, and only 3% of buyers say that reviews never factor into their buying decisions. Those are massive numbers!
Many small business owners may wonder why reviews are important. In the field service business, reviews are perhaps even more important than in other industries for the simple fact that by the time a customer is looking for your service, they have a serious need and are ready to make a purchase. With an audience that’s ready and willing to buy, your odds of making the sale will increase exponentially if you show up as an industry leader in online customer reviews.
Beyond just building your reputation, having a number of field service business reviews can also boost your findability by increasing your Google rank. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you stand out from your competitors by making your business name more prominent when consumers search for certain words that are relevant to your business. Having your name mentioned on other people's websites – like review sites – helps to boost your SEO and makes your company’s name rise to the top of search results.
Responding to Online Customer Reviews
Customer reviews, however, can be a double-edged sword. While positive reviews can increase your business, negative reviews can make it plummet. If it’s possible for you to respond to online customer reviews – whether positive or negative – you absolutely should. It’s been found that 89% of prospective customers read the business owner’s response to online reviews, so if you handle the situation correctly, you may be able to overcome a negative response to your work.
Humans are fickle and emotional, so their moods can have a profound effect on how they perceive your service. If a customer is hungry, they may find your service tech to be rude and your prices to be exorbitant. However, if they’ve just gotten a great promotion at work, they might find your company to be the best in the industry. Your customer’s moods are going to be reflected in their online reviews, so it’s important to take that into consideration when responding.
If you receive a negative review, first and foremost, you should always make it an effort to respond to negative reviews and acknowledge the issue and the customer’s feelings, and apologize. Start by reiterating the customer’s problem so they know that you understand what happened, and then issue a formal apology. You don’t always have to take the blame for the problem because it may not have been totally your company’s fault (remember, the customer could’ve skipped lunch that day), but it’s important to be empathetic. Acknowledge the customer’s feelings and give a sincere apology for the way that this incident made them feel.
After you’ve acknowledged the problem and apologized, offer a solution. Provide contact information for offline support, and then give them an offer to make things right. Thank the customer for their business and explain that you want to rectify the situation by making them a generous offer. However, make sure that it is clear that this is not a bribe, but simply a way to make the situation right and earn back the trust of the customer.
Finally, when responding to negative online reviews, it’s important to provide a follow-up response. Whether the issue has been resolved or you’re in the process of resolving it, make sure you go back to the review site and provide an update on the situation. This will let future readers know that you take customer complaints seriously and that you make your customers’ happiness a priority.
Business Reputation Management
Managing your business’ reputation can be a full-time job. In this 24/7 online world, it’s nearly impossible to monitor everything that is being said about your company on the internet. Because of this, it’s worth considering investing in business reputation management services. Hiring an expert to manage your business’ reputation could pay off exponentially in the long run and help free up your time as well.
To manage your reputation, you can use traditional public relations and contemporary digital marketing strategies to monitor your company’s online brand activity and provide a quick response to any negative reviews or other feedback. A reputation manager will perform extensive SEO research and identify areas where your company can improve.
According to an article from Concordia University, a qualified reputation manager can help your company:
Identify negative reviews, ratings or search results and address them
Understand patterns and develop plans to counteract the negative influences
Publish positive content that will help mitigate negative content discovered during online research
Closely monitor a wide variety of elements that influence business reputation, such as social media, review sites, search results and more
Maintain a healthy reputation through vigilant monitoring and plan positive content for both traditional and online platforms
Create a culture of transparency for your business.
When is a Reputation Management Service Necessary?
For the typical small business, taking on a full-time reputation manager is probably an unnecessary expense. Although, if you want to grow your business and stay ahead of potential online negativity, contracting a business reputation management service is certainly a worthwhile investment.
If a situation arises, however, that could potentially have a negative impact on customer trust, sales or revenue, that is when reputation management becomes a necessity. According to ReputationManagement.com, the most common reasons businesses seek out reputation management services are:
Bad reviews (Google, Yelp, Facebook, Ripoff Report or employee)
Negative comparison articles
Underrepresented digital presence
There are many ways you can go about managing your online reputation – from DIY reputation management software to the crème-de-la-crème of enterprise reputation management firms. Investing in reputation management is a big decision, so how do you decide which type of service is right for your business?
Finding the Perfect Reputation Management Service for Your Business
Before you begin the search for a reputation management company, you will need to settle on a budget. Factor into the equation not just how much money you have available, but also how much negative attention you’re getting that is currently or will potentially affect your business’ future income and growth. Once you’ve got this number, then it’s time to start doing some research.
If you have a small budget, then it’s worth looking into DIY reputation management software. These are often less expensive than hiring a management firm, but as always, you get what you pay for. Typically, these software systems will provide online reputation monitoring, but not much else. The system will likely not provide you with a customized strategy for how to respond to or overcome any negative attention it finds, so that will be up to you.
Remember, DIY stands for “do it yourself”, so if you and your staff have the knowledge and time needed to dedicate to reputation management, then a DIY reputation management software system could be a great option for your business. If you don’t want to go the DIY route, then it’s worth looking at making a larger investment with a reputation management firm.
If you do in fact have a little bit more wiggle room in your budget, then you may want to consider hiring a reputation management company. These companies will not only monitor your online reputation but will help you manage it by providing strategies and helping write press releases and other positive content that will boost your search engine rankings and help push down negative reviews or bad press. These services are going to be a bit pricier than a DIY service, but you will likely get a lot more for your money and the investment should pay off in the long run.
The top tier of reputation management services consist of enterprise reputation management companies. These companies are typically focused on a particular niche and are experts in their field. You will pay a premium for these services, but you will likely get customized, hands-on services and a strategy that is tailored exactly to fit the needs of your company. If you have a serious crisis on your hands, a good bit of money to spend or you simply prefer a more personal touch, then enterprise reputation management is for you.
No matter which service you decide on, it’s important to do your homework before making a purchase. Don’t sign up for any service without knowing exactly what you are getting from the company or system. If the company follows shady practices, like faking customer reviews, run far away from them. These types of underhanded techniques are not only against the rules of most review sites, but they are simply bad business practices that could do more damage to your reputation in the long run. When it comes to selecting a reputation management service, look for transparency, trustworthiness and a proven track record of success. After all, these are the things your customers are looking for from you as well, right?
What are the Best Online Reputation Companies?
To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of some of the business reputation management companies and what you should know about each of them. Take a look:
WebiMax is an online business reputation management service that aims to control online reputations by pushing negative reviews and comments off the first page of search results, promoting positive content and feedback, and constantly monitoring your brand’s online presence.
What you should know:
No long term contracts, so you can easily shift gears and try new strategies
Accredited with the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating
Offers a variety of services, including SEO, search engine marketing, web design, social media marketing, link removal services, online public relations, and more
A certified Google Partner with employees with years of experience with online reputation management
Very flexible, WebiMax allows you to pick and choose what services you want so you can create a totally customized plan just for you
WebiMax does not have a set-in-stone price. Instead, all services and pricing are customized based on what your company needs. WebiMax professionals will have a conversation with you to discuss what type of online image you want and what services you’re looking for, and they’ll create a customized pricing plan based on your course of action.
Reputation X has been around for over 10 years and works to improve online reviews, fix search results to reduce opportunity loss, and build online brands to grow your company.
What you should know:
They use a human touch, no software or robots, to provide sentiment analysis, boost net promoter scores, provide search engine promotion, and industry-speciality influencer marketing
Reputation X works to improve star ratings and reviews by catching negative reviews before they’re posted, Yelp and Google reviews management, Facebook reviews management, and more
Offers additional online reputation services to build a reputation on business listings, Wikipedia, and industry publications, as well as providing strategic, surgical, and effective solutions to improve online sentiment in a way that will last
They have an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau
Serve industries all the way from doctors and dentists to software firms and car dealerships
Basic Plan: $3000 per month
Local search issues
Professional Plan: $5000 per month
Small to medium sized companies
National search issues
Enterprise Plan: $8000 per month
High profile individuals
NetReputation blends reputation management services with PR services to provide a wholesome strategy to fixing up a negative online presence. If a problem ever arises, they can put their PR skills to the test to clean up any major backlash or problems toward your company.
What you should know:
Because they also focus on PR, they will work with you to not only create a positive online reputation, but will work with you to grow your brand as well
This comes with a cost, however. Unlike WebiMax who offers full online reputation management, you won’t get as much specialized attention in a company like NetReputation who focuses on a variety of services.
Will conduct a directory audit, clean up, and building strategy to maintain consistent and accurate contact information so you don’t lose customers
Provides review services to manage your Yelp, TripAdvisor, Citysearch, and other site pages
Will help you receive and request positive reviews from customers
Provides a negative review analysis to clean up your online image
NetReputation is similar to WebiMax in that they do not have a set-in-stone pricing breakdown. They provide customized pricing that are specific to your business’ needs so you can choose the services you want without paying anything extra.
Fighting Back with Content Marketing
If you choose to use a business reputation management service, one of the biggest things these companies will help you do is develop a content marketing strategy. Content marketing includes things like blog posts, infographics, videos, webinars, podcasts, social media posts, landing pages and more. Your reputation manager will help you create a wide variety of high-quality, positive content that will help increase your online search rankings while diluting the negative content in Google’s index.
However, creating and posting content alone is not enough. You also have to be able to optimize your content for SEO. Another benefit of hiring a business reputation management company is that they are typically experts in SEO and can help identify the keywords, meta descriptions, and branded search terms that need to be included in your content to boost your rankings and make sure the positive content about your company is posted on the first page of Google, Bing, YouTube or any other search engine.
After you’ve got high-quality, SEO optimized content ready to go, it’s time to promote that content through social media. If your company is not yet on social media, then creating accounts on some of the bigger platforms is going to be crucial. It’s important to determine which platforms are right for your business, though.
In the field service business, you probably don’t need to waste time on platforms like SnapChat or Instagram, as these platforms are more image-focused and cater towards a younger audience that is likely not ready or in need of your services.
However, you should certainly have a LinkedIn page and it’s a good idea to create Facebook and Twitter accounts as well. All businesses should have LinkedIn profiles. They are great for promoting your content and helping to establish yourself as an industry thought leader. Facebook is a great platform to use for interacting with customers and collecting positive reviews from satisfied clients. Twitter is a good platform for sharing and promoting content, interacting with customers and gaining brand recognition. Your brand manager can help you identify which platforms are right for your business and help you to develop a social media marketing strategy.
How Long Will Brand Reputation Management Take?
Brand reputation management is not an overnight fix. If you’ve got a really bad situation, then even with the best reputation management companies money can buy, it’s going to take some time to overcome the negative press and get back into the good graces of the public.
The reputation management firm Reputation X estimates that, on average, a reputation management campaign takes about 10 months to work, but that is simply an estimation because each campaign is different and there are many variables involved. According to the company, some of the many variables to consider, include:
The brand’s existing reputation
The strength of its online competition
The strength of the company’s content marketing efforts and its brand story
Existing assets and online profiles
The lag time of search engines
These factors will vary widely among each company, so unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
How Housecall Pro Can Help Your Brand
Housecall Pro is an all-in-one home service app for pros like you. Building a strong reputation means establishing strong relationships with your customers and providing top of the line customer service. Show your customers you care during every stage of the job with the Housecall Pro app. From scheduling jobs to communicating with customers, and booking online to sending invoices, you can streamline all of your business operations to help get the job done.
Here are some of the top features Housecall Pro offers that will make your customers coming back for more:
Scheduling: Keep employees updated and create an edit schedules right from your computer or smartphone
Estimates: Saving you 15 hours a week, Housecall Pro automates all of your back-office work and gets rid of paper invoices, so you can focus on the job at hand
Online Booking: Quickly secure customers before your competitors with fast online booking available 27/7
Dispatch: For loyal customers, set recurring jobs, assign teams, and schedule arrival windows to keep everyone updated in real-time across all devices
On-My-Way Texts: Create lifelong customers by letting them know when your Pros are on their way, so they know when to expect you
Live Map GPS: Have a birdseye view on all of your employees so you can easily schedule the closest tech to an upcoming job
Custom Text & Email: Keep your customers coming back for more with personalized texts and emails throughout the entire job
Invoicing: Send invoices and collect payments in one click to automate this process
Follow-Up Marketing: Provide the ultimate customer experience with follow up emails and postcards that make them feel appreciated by you
Is Brand Reputation Management Worth It?
Whether you decide to hire a business reputation management company, invest in a DIY brand management software program, or simply choose to monitor your online presence on your own, you should be practicing some form of brand reputation management. People will talk about your company online and you need to be a part of that conversation by:
Creating high-quality, useful content
Optimizing your content for SEO
Engaging with your audience on social media
Responding to both negative and positive reviews
Finally, if you need help with your reputation management, then consider taking on an online business reputation management company. Your reputation is all you have, so protecting it is worth the investment.
Housecall Pro is rated the #1 software to run your HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Carpet Cleaning and other home service businesses. Our features allow you to schedule and dispatch jobs, get booked online, send invoice and receive payment within minutes whether if you are in the office or out in the field. This comprehensive software can help you grow revenue by 30% in one year and save up to 500 hours a year. Join all the other successful home service businesses who have already started and try Housecall Pro for 14 days free today.