How to Build a Positive Online Reputation

We’re happy you found this blog post: How to Build a Positive Online Reputation. Making your customers happy on a consistent basis is the number one thing you can do to build a positive online reputation. Happy customers, who are under the age of 30, are more likely to post an online review in any number of places such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and/or Google. But so are the unhappy customers. A recent Lightspeed Research survey discovered that after reading just two negative reviews about a company, consumers won’t bother doing business with that company, no matter that two total strangers posted those reviews. reported this about that survey:

“….a quarter (24%) said they had changed their mind about buying a product or service after reading two bad reviews while a further 39% said three negative reviews would deter them from making a purchase.

Just 8% said they found online reviews unreliable.” –

What can you, the business owner, do to educate your customers to go post their positive reviews online?

Definitely do NOT ask your employees to post reviews because this is a conflict of interest. Legally, you cannot ask your employees to pose as consumers because this violates the Federal Trade Commission’s rules.

“This past summer, the national plastic surgery company Lifestyle Lift had the dubious distinction of being the first to be punished for astroturfing. It agreed to pay $300,000 to New York State for having its employees post positive reviews of its products without revealing their connection to the company, a practice the state called “deceptive commercial practices, false advertising, and fraudulent and illegal conduct.”

Here are steps you can implement to begin to build your positive online reputation:

  1. Just as routinely as you check your email in the morning, make it part of your routine to check online for any new reviews you might have received. By continuously monitoring your Online Reputation, you are in command, always know where you stand and can take action on negative reviews.
  2. If you find any negative reviews, try to contact the unhappy customer to make them happy – just like you would have done had they called you and complained. A complaint is an opportunity to make this person really happy, perhaps even an evangelist for your company. Don’t laugh! I’ve personally become an evangelist for a company because of the way they handled my complaint.
  3. If it’s not possible to contact the owner of the review, see if the review has violated the terms of use of that particular website. If it has, then you have legitimate grounds for reporting the violation and can probably get that review removed.
  4. If you choose to publicly respond to the negative reviewer, do it very carefully. People are watching how you react. If you react defensively, you could make matters worse. But if you thank the person for their review, apologize for the poor service they received and offer to make it right with them, then people who read this type of response from you are more likely to give you a chance.
  5. The best course of action, in addition to keeping your customers happy, is to sincerely ask your customers to write a review of your services online at Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor and to tell their friends in Facebook and Twitter. Be careful how you ask. And don’t ask everyone. If your customer is 60 years or older, chances are high that she simply won’t know how to do this even if you give her step-by-step instructions. But if she routinely goes online and posts reviews, like most people do, who are under 30 years old, encourage her to join your Facebook Fan page and share her thoughts.

Here’s a possible scenario illustrating that:

Scenario for a Hair Salon (but you can pretty much apply this to your business):

Tiffany, is 28 years old, single, and just got her hair done at your salon before heading out on for an evening with her girlfriends. She’s ecstatic about how her hair turned out. She says “I love it!” and actually hugs your stylist, Becky. Becky has been trained by her manager to recognize this type of opportunity and recognize this type of person (young female, probably spends some time on Facebook every day) and without missing a beat, says “I’m so glad you love your new hairstyle! You look amazing! Hey, did you know we have a Facebook Fan page? Could I take your picture and post it there? I don’t have to say your name if you don’t want me to. I could just say ‘Here’s another happy customer who said she loved her new hairstyle.’”

Tiffany will either say yes or no. If she says yes, your salon manager is summoned over to take Tiffany’s picture with Becky (or without – but I think the person who created the happiness should be included). Salon manager promptly uploads the photo with a caption (don’t forget the caption!) to the salon’s fan page. Later on, Tiffany shares the post with her friends. Two of Tiffany’s friends see the photo, knowing what Tiffany’s hair looked like before, and promptly call your salon to make an appointment with Becky.

I want you to think about what just happened in this scenario.

  • Think about, first, how happy Becky made her customer Tiffany feel. (Becky should be rewarded with some positive feedback from the boss, at the very least.)
  • Next, think about how well-trained Becky was. She knew that by posting another happy customer’s photo in her employer’s Facebook fan page would only make her value as an employee go up and perhaps her salon manager sweetened the process by offering a paid day off to the FIRST stylist who got 10 happy photos posted in one week. Offering valuable incentives to employees always works!
  • Think about how Tiffany’s age and ego skewed her into the group of people most likely to say yes to posting their photo on your Fan page (this scenario might not work out this way if the customer were 60 years or older).

What if Tiffany had said “No…I don’t really want my photo in Facebook…”?

Here’s how Becky was trained to respond if her customer said no to a Facebook photo:

Becky: “No problem, I completely understand. We love it when our customers write reviews in Google or Yelp. Do you ever do that?”

Tiffany: “Yes! I did that last night at dinner at that new Mexican restaurant I ate at! I’ll post a review about you in Yelp. I’ll say good things because I really do love my hair. I just feel a little funny about posting my photo in Facebook.”

Becky: “I totally understand. I’ll look for your review. I’m trying to show my boss how many people I make happy every day. Your review is as much appreciated as your tip. Thank you very much! Come back again and I’ll be sure to keep you happy, Tiffany!”

Okay, so maybe I sugar-coated it a bit but you get my point. All of these things are possible. These reviews are happening anyway and becoming more prevalent every day so why not take some ownership of your online reputation, without violating any FTC rulings, and spread the word about how great your company is?

What if Tiffany has never written a review in Yelp or Google?

If you really want to make it easy for your customers, you could hand them some instructions on how to post reviews in Google or Yelp but you can’t really give them anything because this is seen as a bribe and creates distrust rather than trust. Yelp says this in their FAQ’s:

Does Yelp mind if I get a freebie in exchange for my review?

Actually, we do. Please don’t write a five-star review of your local watering hole in exchange for a free drink. That said, if you independently luck into a free drink or two because of your charming personality, by all means, enjoy the largesse but don’t forget to mention the free perks when writing your review.

Google Says Bribes In Exchange for Good Reviews is a Conflict of Interest:

Conflict of interest
Reviews are only valuable when they are honest and unbiased. Even if well-intentioned, a conflict of interest can undermine the trust in a review. For instance, do not offer or accept money or product to write positive reviews about a business, or to write negative reviews about a competitor. Please also do not post reviews on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or affiliation with the place you are reviewing.

So, if you decide to give your customers instructions on how to post a review online, make it clear that you can’t give them anything other than your thanks. Make it clear that you believe in always following the rules and respecting them. “It’s up to you if you’d like to post a review online about us. We really appreciate it! Here’s a card that has step-by-step instructions, just in case…” Your customer will be impressed with your integrity.

And if you take my advice to continually monitor your reviews, you’ll see when your customers post them. If I were you, I would give them flowers and a thank you card because those customers posted their reviews without any bribe and did it out of the goodness of their hearts. At this point in time, since you did not offer a bribe in the first place, you could legitimately reward this person for her review. Give her flowers or give her a free shoulder rub (I’m still using the Hair Salon scenario but hey, if your customer wouldn’t mind you giving her a shoulder rub, why not? Just kidding!) or a 15% discount on her next visit.

Remember this:

“Consumers expect to find product reviews on shopping websites (72%) while around half (47%) seek them out on company websites and 43% on price comparison sites. The majority use search engines to find reviews.

So influential are the opinions of others that over two-thirds (67%) of consumers would be deterred from purchasing a product or service if they were to encounter two or three negative reviews, found Lightspeed’s online survey.

How to Build a Positive Online Reputation
Be Remembered and Talked About With Your Customer Service

Who knows the true monetary value of one positive review? I estimate it could mean hundreds of dollars worth of business for you – perhaps even thousands of dollars – especially because of this latest study done by Lightspeed Survey (mentioned previously).

The least you SHOULD do is thank that person. Call her and thank her or, hey, mail her a thank you note – you would REALLY be remembered and talked about by her if you did that!