Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors in the world, once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
In today’s fast-moving digital world, where anyone can create a website and spin up a company in a matter of minutes, a reputation is more valuable than ever before. It takes consistent care and nurturing to build and maintain a great business reputation. A Forbes contributor wrote our reputations might be our most important asset in our careers and we would extend that truth to our businesses, too.
Today, your business reputation is built or broken online
Over 55% of the world’s population — 4.2 billion people — are on the internet. Knowing how easy it is to leave a review on the hundreds of review sites available online, anyone in the world could leave a review of your business at any time, whether you manage the listing or not. Glowingly positive or stridently negative, a review might come in on Yelp, another review on Google, another on Facebook, on TripAdvisor, and on and on. It’s difficult to keep track of where they’re all coming from, never mind responding to each one of them.
The more popular your business becomes, the more hectic and time-consuming the task of keeping track, organizing, and responding to reviews becomes.
The rise of this rapidly propagating problem created a need for a scalable solution for small business owners, known as reputation management software.
What is reputation management software?
Reputation management software aggregates all your online reviews into one place and gives you the tools to manage your business reputation across these important sites. In short, reputation management software is way to take control of word of mouth in the digital age.
5 examples of reputation management software platforms:
There are dozens of options to choose from when it comes to selecting the right reputation management software platform for your local shop.
As you decide, be sure to research how each platform is different and what each specializes in. For example, Womply specializes in serving a wide range of consumer-facing local businesses and provides the added benefit of tying review information to pre-populated customer profiles that show transaction history and more. Other reputation management softwares may specialize in hospitality, enterprise, or ecommerce industries.
Why does reputation management software matter?
Today’s consumers are smart, well-researched, and educated when it comes to knowing what they want to buy. In fact, over 90 percent of people research online reviews (and 84% trust them just as much as friends) before they make a purchase in your store. That’s an astounding majority to consider!
This means the sales process doesn’t begin when they walk into your small business. It starts online, on review sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor. The customer probably searched through their favorite app on their phone in their vehicle before plugging in the directions into the GPS.
For small business owners, this means you must be present and active where the conversation starts — in online reviews.
An reputation management software platform empowers small business owners and operators to access, assess, and respond to their online reviews all from one login.
What’s the upside to using reputation management software?
The benefit of an all-in-one reputation management system is the ability to get a bird’s-eye view of the big picture — how’s your business really doing online? What do people really think? This way, you can make better business decisions based on direct customer feedback and understand how the potential customers are seeing your business when they search for your products or services online.
In today’s world where every customer review, from one star to ten, necessitates a response from management, a helpful tool like reputation management software makes this task much easier, simpler, and faster.
What happens if I don’t use reputation management software?
If you have lots of spare time, you can bypass a reputation management system and just use the brute force method, scouring all your listings on review sites every day via separate logins. Or, you could just ignore these sites — to your peril.
Let’s say you run a small restaurant and only monitor Facebook and Google. While this is better than not doing anything at all, the danger happens when a customer writes a devastating “bomb” review on your business’s Yelp profile. Now, all of your prospective customers checking Yelp (more than 100 million people check Yelp every month) who would’ve spent money with you take their business elsewhere because the negative review scares them away. Many of them will never come back.
It doesn’t have to be just Yelp. It could be Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Consumer Affairs, Angie’s List, OpenTable, Better Business Bureau, and many others. To manually check every review website where a review could be written about your business’s reputation would be an exhaustive amount of time and effort. As the once popular internet meme eloquently states: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
A reputation management software solution takes all these disparate review sites and plants them all in one place, with alerts, and an intuitive interface for staying on top and fully aware of how your business is doing in the eyes of your customers.
If you’re still on the fence, consider reading our other article that describes three misconceptions small business owners have about online review management:
- Misconception #1 – Managing reviews is too time-consuming
- Misconception #2 – Review sites don’t apply to my business
- Misconception #3 – There are too many online review sites to manage
Read the article here.
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