You may have heard the old expression 'a man's good name is all he's got' - probably in reference to a Western.
Well, the web has progressed from its own wild-west days, but the importance of a business's reputation, often best expressed by its customer reviews, has only increased.
As gaps in product quality close, the greatest differentiator between competitors is brand sentiment, aka a brand's reputation amongst its customers.
Reputation management is now a sink or swim practice. Pay little attention to your reputation, or ignore it entirely, at your own peril. Your competitors are likely paying attention to their reputation and will slowly but surely begin to absorb your customer base.
This guide will walk you through the basics of great reputation management, what it can accomplish, and the best software options to help you along your journey.
Click through the sections at your leisure.
Reputation management is the practice of monitoring and making efforts to correct consumer perception of your business's brand image.
This involves observing and analyzing current reputation as reflected by online reviews and other feedback, and employing proactive techniques to improve the overall impression your brand leaves.
Reputation management is crucial to providing a great overall customer experience and growing a loyal customer base. This loyal base then organically attracts new customers by word-of-mouth recommendations and positive online reviews.
Managing your brand's reputation has a similar positive impact on business to that of review management - and the numbers back this up.
Recent data strongly reinforces the sway that reputation has over purchasing decisions. Reputationx's survey found that 87% of customers reversed a purchase decision if they encountered reputation issues.
What do we mean by 'reputation issues'? Well, your reputation is inextricably linked to your customer reviews. Your reviews themselves are reflections of customer sentiment, and positive sentiment means a good reputation.
While many business strategists assume reviews influence customers' purchasing decision, most would likely be shocked at how much the average customer relies, and can be persuaded by, online reviews.
Recent statistics found that 97% of customers say reviews impact their buying decisions. When specifically considering ecommerce, 9 out of 10 customers said they consulted the online reviews before making a purchase.
With this data in mind, to protect your reputation you'll need to develop an effective system to manage all your online feedback. This means locating your reviews, accurately analyzing them, then taking further steps to proactively generate future reviews that suit you.
The end goal of all of this is better reviews, which indicate improved customer experience, leading to increased loyalty and further sales.
Let's go through some pointers for this process specific to reputation management.
Let's explore a general, four-step process that can be repeated time and time again to effectively and accurately manage your brand's reputation.
If you want to make progress, you first have to know where you stand. That's why understanding your current reputation, or 'online presence', is a must before moving forward with your campaign.
Finding out where your reviews are online is a great place to start. Only looking at the reviews left on your online store would be a mistake.
Reviews can be found in three other important places: third-party aggregators, social media platforms, and on separate applications (think Yelp).
Third party aggregators can range from behemoths, like Google Business listings and Amazon sale pages, to smaller sites, like Trustpilot.
Regardless of size, any site that allows star-based responses and/or written reviews contains data that needs to be brought into your reviews database.
Social media platforms, like Facebook Marketplace, Instagram product pages, and Twitter, also contain opinions. Advanced software, like Monkeylearn can help you stay on top of these by analyzing these mentions of your product so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
Other popular applications, like the aforementioned Yelp need to be monitored as well in order to help present a clear picture of where your business stands. Only then can you proceed to the next step - analysis.
Once you have your data you'll need to translate it into a format that your teams can understand and use - this known as data analysis.
However, datasets are often intimidatingly large, especially for online businesses. Analyzing data at scale manually can be costly in terms of raw resources, and can end up delivering subpar results due to human subjectivity.
Here's where data analysis software like Monkeylearn can help. By leveraging machine learning and AI, it can sort through massive datasets in seconds, delivering real-time, accurate analysis.
This kind of AI is able to get the most out of your data using sentiment analysis, keyword extraction, topic classification, among other techniques. This ensures you are working with the best possible, most accurate insights.
The next step is to get the right insights into the right hands. This is where your customer experience team leaders need to form an effective strategy.
Any significant amount of raw data is daunting, and, by applying the previous step you were hopefully able to reduce your data to its essential insights.
Now, you need to group all of those insights together and display them in a way that makes sense. This is known as data visualization. You'll then be ready to disseminate them to the right teams.
Gathering all your insights and visualizing them on a single, all-in-one dashboard is highly recommended. All the better if this dashboard is no-code and can be explored by all employees, like the Monkeylearn Studio.
Now, with your data in the right hands, it's time to make changes. If you've followed the above steps, taking care not to cut corners or compromise objectivity, you can act confidently on your insights, as you've ensured their validity.
Product teams will receive honest feedback from customers regarding features. They can then use this to tweak future product roadmaps and deliver products guaranteed to satisfy your base.
Support teams will get helpful feedback on where they succeeded and where they have room to improve. Perhaps most importantly, your customer experience management (CXM) team can learn what your existing customers care the most about, and cater to their needs, ideally creating loyal customers-for-life.
While that might seem like the end of the job, there is one last step - informing customers whose feedback you acted upon that you did so.
Letting them know you acted shows a personal investment in them, makes them feel heard, and by virtue of these things, boosts their satisfaction. In doing so even detractors can be turned into vocal advocates.
These steps are a cycle and need to be repeated often in order to maintain and boost your reputation.
A great customer experience team will constantly repeat this cycle, staying a step ahead of competitors while retaining existing customers and acquiring new ones.
There is an entire micro-industry of advanced software designed to help you along your reputation management journey. These software offerings come in two varieties:
Specialized reputation and review management suites.
Larger, 'comprehensive' customer experience suites that include reputation management functionality.
Below, we've broken down the key factors of industry leading reputation management options so that you can find the best fit for your business.
Specialized reputation management with wide-reaching functionality.
As you can see, Reviewtrackers is no slouch when it comes to its selection of functionalities.
Before even starting on some of its unique offerings, it's worth noting that Reviewtrackers offers everything you might expect out of a reputation management tool.
It is designed to aggregate your reviews from multiple sources, and display them as customer experience analytics that you can share amongst your teams.
What sets it apart from its competitors are Reviewtrackers 'Local SEO', 'Competitor Analysis', 'Local Listing Management', and Acquisition and Retention solutions.
Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Local Listing Management go hand in hand, allowing you to specialize how you approach your reviews to specific geographic regions.
Competitor analysis, acquisition, and retention are all connected to customer experience management (CXM). They help you stay on top of how customers are feeling about your brand, why they are or aren't staying with you, and what your competitors are offering that is contributing to this.
Industry-leading power paired with powerful data visualization.
Monkeylearn's Studio is an all-in-one data visualization dashboard that is a great example of what no-code, real time reputation management can look like.
Dashboards like this make step 4, 'Act and inform' much easier as they allow employees of any level of technology proficiency to access and explore the data all in one place.
When this datavis capability is paired with, the most powerful data analysis engine on the market, your business will quickly be able to turn data into useful feedback that can then be used to boost your reputation.
Reputation management jumpstarter for local businesses.
For any local business looking to dip their toes in the reputation management game for the first time, Podium is a great place to start.
They offer an affordable, basic suite of reputation tracking software that will allow you to get your campaign off the ground in days rather than weeks or months.
Check out the above right menu, which simplifies all customer feedback into four distinct channels. Podium's software is easy to use, so, for example, if you want to start another text campaign for example it's just a few clicks away, no code required.
At the reasonable starting price tag of $289/mo, and with a two week, full functionality free trial, Podium is a must try for any boutique small business looking to grow.
Ubiquitous brand reputation resource
You may have heard of Consumer Reports (CR) before, considering the CR magazine existed long before the internet (since 1936!).
Nowadays, CR has a strong web presence that is essential reading for any business looking to gauge how they rank amongst their competition.
With space for nearly every industry, the Consumer Reports website is a must have review resource to include in your data collection.
They are ad-free and self-proclaimed 'customer powered' - their site is completely free for consumers, ensuring they can see any reviews they are interested in.
This only increases the value on the business side, as more eyes increases the importance of getting, and managing your reviews on the site. Pair this with CR's ultra-low cost for business starting at $10/mo, it would be unwise not to do business with this industry staple.
Voice-of-customer inspired growth for local business.
Improving your Voice of Customer (VoC) program is essential to maintaining a strong reputation.
Birdeye focuses on this, and adds a strong referral program, real-time and long term benchmarking, and deep insight driven results to all of your reputation management basics.
Birdeye's approach plays to the strengths of local businesses who already have existing, loyal customer bases.
Your reputation is all you have, but that doesn't mean you are completely at the mercy of public opinion.
A smart business will take whatever attitude is out there about their products, and use it as a jumping off point to start a successful campaign to improve their reputation.
The steps above, as well as the tools listed, will put you help you to proactively improve and or maintain your reputation
However, no matter your overall approach, your results will be bolstered by adding Monkeylearn's powerful analysis to your repertoire.
Designed to integrate with any and all business apps, and with personalized customization on offer, Monkeylearn can act either as the base suite for a reputation management approach, or as a powerful add-on to any existing software infrastructure.\ To see what Monkeylearn can do, sign up for a free trial. Or, to see what a custom fit for your business would look up, book a demo and have one of our data experts walk you through what's possible.
August 26th, 2022