In the last few articles we’ve been speaking about how to increase customer engagement and build trust with your potential clients. Again:

If people don’t trust you, they won’t give you their money.

There are lots of ways to build trust, but one of the most important that many businesses overlook is your online reputation. Where does your “reputation” live? Typically on review sites like Yelp or others. You have MANY options to building your online reputation, but some are more effective and important than others.

However, many business owners are afraid of getting a bad review on these review sites, so they sort of bury their heads in the sand and hope it doesn’t happen.

So let’s cover these two topics separately.

How To Build an Online Reputation

google search results

Google+ and Yelp Results Show at the Top of Google!

If you have not done so already, please go out and create or claim your listing on Yelp. You may already have a business profile that someone or they system already created for you. You must claim that listing and own it. You want to be able to manage the content, address, photos, and other information on that listing. It will cost you nothing to take over the listing, and I do not advocate spending advertising with Yelp ads (that’s a whole separate subject).

Secondly, go set up a business listing on Google+ for your business. It’s kind of like Facebook, where you have to have a private (personal) account on Google+, and then you can set up your business listing in a public page. This is a must-have for all businesses, no matter what. Watch this recording I did last year: Why Business Owners Must Be on Google.

Both of these systems, by far, are the most influential pages you can set up that will show up on the search engines, especially Google. As people are searching for your type of business or even your business name, these two systems will show up more often than not in the search results. see the attached graphic that shows when I did a search for “residential painters in Phoenix”, there are seven Google+ listings plus Yelp that show up at the VERY top. If you haven’t set either one up, you are missing out on getting to the top of Google for free.

Once you’ve set these up, it’s very important that you start nurturing reviews on these two pages from your happy customers. It’s easy to do. If someone tells you that they had a great experience with your company, say, “Hey, I really appreciate the feedback! Would you mind doing me a small favor and say something on our Yelp or Google+ page?” Most of them will say, “Sure!” They probably just didn’t think about doing it, so a little nudge helps.

You can also give out a card or e-mail to your customers right after they’ve had a good experience that says “Would you mind telling us how we’re doing?” Include a link or a QR code (those square bar codes) that takes them right to your reviews page. You can use a URL shortener too to make one that you can remember and is easier for your customers to get to.

By the way, NEVER e-mail all your customers at once. You want to build your reviews SLOWLY over time. If you suddenly get 40 5-star reviews in a week, Yelp will probably look askance at that and just take your listing down. They only want “natural” reviews that show up over a long time.

What Happens If You Get a Bad Review?

This is the thing that scares most business owners. Yikes. There are actually a couple things to think about.

If you have one bad review and no other reviews, that looks really bad. Think about You read the reviews, right? One of the criteria we all do is look to see how many 5-stars and how many 1-stars a product has. So if you have one bad review and nothing else, people will believe it. If you have 23 5-star reviews and a bad review, people will dismiss the bad review. So this is why you need to start nurturing your reviews from your happy customers NOW.

Secondly, many platforms like Yelp, allow you to respond to a bad review (or a good one!). But you can only do this if you’ve claimed and own your listing. So if you DO get a bad review, you can respond (reply) with “We’re sorry you had a bad experience, please call Julie at the store, and we’ll refund your money right away. We just ask that you give us another chance to get it right.” By responding professionally and courteously, it diffuses the whole thing, and other readers will see that you are responding.

What’s the bottom line? You have to manage your reputation.