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How is your Online Reputation?

By Abi Buller

Online spaces can no longer be considered as static platforms. Consumers are more involved than ever with the brands they choose to associate with, so why not make them central to your strategic communications?

Engaging with the fluid nature of customer interaction, feedback, and opinion-led statements that populate social networks and online forums is paramount to achieving a favourable online brand reputation. Today’s clientele will often refer to customer reviews when making decisions, for everything from where to eat and what to buy, to how to live and who they want to be. By speaking their language and employing an open, honest, and transparent review process, brands are more likely to gain traction and, ultimately, a sense of trust from their customers. Particularly as 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, it’s clear that the importance of online discussion is overwhelmingly potent.

How Client Reviews Affect your Marketing Strategy/Product Branding

Much like the sentiment behind the idiom, ‘’all PR is good PR,’’ even a negative review can act as a catalyst to generate positive branding energy. This is, of course, dependent on the actions of the company. The reaction — never a retaliation — to a poor review, can contribute to an authentic and trustworthy brand message. When handled with consideration and careful thought, it can demonstrate to your customers (and soon-to-be customers) that your brand is sincere and dedicated to resolving issues in a manner that is both satisfactory to you as well as having your customer’s best interest at heart. As with any medium of content marketing, online reviews are a brand touchpoint which can alter your brand positioning and sit you comfortably next to or glaringly ahead of your competitors.

Engaging with Customers (Reviews) to Improve Relations

In any business, building a rapport with customers is key to the continued success of your brand. Some companies consider reputation management as being exclusively concerned with social media or public relations. However, the customer review is perhaps the most important component of brand-building strategy as, according to Forbes magazine, 90% of all people will read the online reviews before visiting a company.The review is proven to have a direct correlation with business and sales.

The scope and intent of customer reviews can seem unrelenting and untenable. Therefore, the goal is to identify your audience and their motives while retaining your own ideals and developing and maintaining a consistent tone of voice when dealing with consumers. Further, implementing a review platform that the user knows is authentic, transparent (displaying both positive and negative reviews side-by-side), and immutable will garner trust among your client base and imparts confidence to new users who are “shopping” for products or services. Along with media coverage and networking, establishing a methodology and etiquette for engaging customers in the review process should be considered as a solid part of your strategy when planting the roots of your company’s brand.

Engaging with Customers to Fix/Repair Relations

Brands have the ability to attract customers who are confidently in-tuned with a certain product or service as well as those who are bravely open to trying new and unfamiliar commodities. If the customer is new to your brand, they will use the reviews of others — good and bad — to make a decision about you.

A negative review should be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s integrity to both new and existing customers alike. The proper, professional dialogue with an unhappy customer to discover the source of the problem, followed with clear concise measures to address those issues through to a resolution, will win the loyalty of the once-unhappy customer and demonstrate to future customers that you are a brand with veracity, honesty, and savvy business practices.

When responding to reviews of any nature, it is important to remain friendly and approachable yet professional and knowledgeable. Being conscious of your consumer base also means ensuring that you’re not alienating your clients with the overuse of industry jargon that can make you seem technically unapproachable; it can also come across as pedantic or condescending. Hiding behind your sector’s lingo can lead to a sense of distrust if applied unawares.

When it comes to fixing or repairing problems, a general rule of thumb is to consider that the more complex a topic is, the more you’ll need to simplify it for the customer. If a product or service is highly technical, it often requires an acutely ‘human’ interaction — one which regains trust through a personal touch. There really is no singular approach to this so it can be useful to plot a range of scenarios, responses, and potential outcomes for your review process — in just the same way that you would strategise in other areas of your business planning.

Establishing Brand Principals Through the Review Process

When consistently implemented, a brand’s tone of voice, beliefs, and values will become apparent through your customer’s reviews. Whether your brand is primarily activist or openly brash and unashamedly colloquial, the specifics of your tone and nature of responses will build an image in the minds of your consumers, potential employees, and business collaborators.

Just like meeting somebody for the first time, first impressions are critical in online spaces. The reactions you elicit from an initial search can set you up for a positive client relationship or can deter them altogether. According to a Google Organic Study, 93% of searchers never go beyond the first page of search results; instead, using only the first 10 search results to form their impression. If the feedback and comments on Google’s SERP (search engine results page) are driven by negativity, it’s certainly time to consider how to tackle this issue.

A brand’s principals can also be apparent by the efficiency with which you interact with customers. Consider, for example, how valued you feel as a customer if you had an issue with your mobile phone and the manufacturer took a month to reply to your query. Customer satisfaction is extremely consequential to your overall online reputation and trustability.

A personal approach is also highly regarded and transcends all industries. Assuring your customers that their issue is of the highest importance and offering a thorough but honest response is usually your best port of call. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep, though, as it will only lead to a bout of further qualms.

How Revain’s Online Review Platform Can Help

While there is certainly not a one-track road to take when it comes to establishing effective online prestige, the threads that ring true from our analysis of reputation management is the need to be authentic, transparent, responsive, and accountable.

Through decentralisation of the blockchain technology, Revain’s online review platform is an obvious, integral solution to begin building a loyal client base. A space to collate well-reasoned and expert reviews, Revain ensures that a ‘trustless’ system is the impetus to achieving a catalogue of genuine and reflective customer reviews. With no central authority, an immutable-review culture thrives and ensures an authentic digital representation of your business. Using artificial intelligent (AI) to filter through overtly emotional tones and unwarranted spam and abuse, Revain reviews are also processed manually by the company’s in-house team before being entered into the blockchain. The company can reject a review for being frivolous or fabricated, but only after further evaluation from a manual moderation system. A company can only dispute a review if they believe it to be unconstructive, but even in this case, the essence of the review will remain eternally linked to the blockchain. To ensure that the company is not unfairly tipping the review scale into its favour, disagreements between companies and users are then passed into the court of highly reputable, decentralised users This leads to a warning system whereby the users have the power to ensure the company is removed from the system after a bout of four responses which are deemed to be illegitimate. Once the review is encrypted and published to the blockchain; it becomes impossible to edit or delete, ensuring the transparency necessary to provide customers with a complete, unbiased picture of the company. How’s that for a transparent approach to maintaining your reputation?

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