Does a small business have a need for tracking their online reputation? Since many small business people are completely unaware that they even have an “online reputation” then I would have to say yes.
Here’s an example that literally just happened to me this week. I had transmission work done on a vehicle about four months ago. I was very pleased with the result, the price and the service. Now unfortunately I need to go back for transmission issues for another car (I drive cars until they scream “Uncle!”) and I did a Google search to get the number of the shop again. Well, the first organic search result was from www.insiderpages.com and there were 5 reviews there along with the information I wanted. After reading the reviews, I actually felt like I was lucky that I had a good experience at this shop! When I contacted the owner to schedule the new work (I am a trusting sort) I told him about what was there and he a bit surprised and disturbed. Needless to say, we will be talking to help him with that problem.
So I go from happy customer to a “Doubting Thomas” in no time flat due to an online rant by an unhappy customer. Well, since all businesses will encounter unhappy customers it is critical for anyone to monitor their online reputation.
Consider doing the following:
1. Perform an audit of all directory listings that your information appears on and see what is being said.
2. Use a tool like Trackur to keep an eye on any new information as it happens so you are aware and can take actions to eliminate, refute or least minimize the claim
3. Update your website and do SEO to get your site found rather than a directory listing so your customers come to you and never have to see the bad press
4. Contact the customers that were upset and make it right. How you do that is your call
5. Take the time to understand how your small business may be getting “buzz” other than just the old referral network that you have relied on. The new referral system is the search engines.
To many, this will have seemed elementary but that’s because you live and breathe this stuff. Most small business people (which account for about 95% of American business) have not caught on yet. If you are an internet marketing provider help them understand this important part of the new world economy and set yourself apart as their business partner and not just another vendor.
SMB Takeaway: No matter how small your business you could already have an online reputation. Hopefully, it’s positive but let’s be honest; very few people take the time to say something nice in a review. Most folks, however, can pump out a negative review in mere seconds and they feel like they are getting a measure of revenge. Make sure you know what is being said about you and your business online.
Thanks and have a great day!