Navigating the Online World to Become a Successful Business

Word of Mouth is Everywhere in An Online World

In the current business world, reputation can make or break your brand. What consumers talk about your business – about your products and services – either strengthens your position, or you lose ground to your competitors. Therefore a strong online presence is essential to any brand.

Studies show that one in three UK businesses now think negative content is causing them considerable damage.

One in twenty of those surveyed in 2018 stated that this type of feedback can already be estimated in costs of more than £500,000. Bad press with subsequent negative reviews and social media posts were the most damaging cases.

So how do you build a robust online reputation that will strengthen your business to grow and move ahead of competitors?

Give 110%

Traditional customer service never fades away and this enhances customer experience. Retail giants like Amazon and John Lewis have built worldwide brands by relying on excellent consumer service. As they have correctly identified, if you treat your customers well they will return for more – and potentially strengthen your company’s reputation by leaving positive reviews.

Transparency is Appreciated

Issues always arise, but it’s important to not ignore them and deal with them accordingly. If the customer feels in any way neglected, there are now plenty of social media channels to voice their concerns, which will potentially reach a wide audience.

Responses to customers have to be dealt with as quickly as possible and appropriately. In cases when your business is in the wrong, it’s better to acknowledge it, apologise and straighten out the issue.

When KFC ran out of chicken early in 2018, it came forth with an apology very quickly and explained what had happened. The company was aware the usual type of corporate press release wouldn’t go well with its clients. KFC went the extra mile, putting out full-page ads in major daily newspapers showing what company leaders, franchise owners and customers were feeling in a disengaging tone. Its cheeky response to the chicken issue leveraged the situation to avoid negative PR and turn it around, which led to a quick recovery of their reputation.

Deliver on Your Promises

Earning the trust of your customers is very hard, but very easy to shatter. Try to deliver on your promises and offer services and products as you advertise.

If you’re an online retailer like ASOS and you are sure you can uphold to that same day or 24-hour delivery promise, it is great. If you struggle to meet the deadline often times, then you need to re-think your positioning.

Failure to accomplish everything you state constantly will quickly lead to customer dissatisfaction, which more often than not will be shared with the whole online world.

Customer faith and trust are essential. According to a recent research, 64% of people trust online search engines when analyzing a business, therefore make sure that what you promise to your customers is achievable.

A recent consumer survey found that:

  • 97 per cent of consumers search online for local businesses, 12 per cent do it daily.
  • 90 per cent of people read online reviews before visiting a business.
  • 85 per cent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Make the online world your friend, not your enemy.

ORM for Hotels – The Importance of an Online Profile

Nowhere is online reputation management more important than within the hospitality industry. Statistics show that 97 percent of people look at online comments from previous guests when considering a hotel, while 93 percent find this an important way of determining their choice. More than half (53 percent) won’t book a hotel without reading online opinions.

Many hotels don’t establish an ORM strategy until they start receiving negative attention. This is a mistake. Google and other search engines rank content from online travel sites such as Trip Advisor and Expedia highly, so what people are saying about you really does matter. Unless the hotel already has a strong online profile, content from these sites is going to appear prominently on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and this will be the first thing a potential customer sees. It’s impossible to control guests’ opinions, but by optimizing brand-generated content so that it ranks high on page one of the search results, will at least ensure that clients find a balanced representation of the hotel. Responding appropriately to customer comments further decreases the impact as researchers see you are using feedback to make the experience better for everyone.

ORM Strategy

An online reputation management (ORM) strategy needs to be planned and coordinated just like any other marketing campaign. Large hotels often devote an entire department to this effort. Small and medium sized organizations may have fewer resources to employ qualified full-time staff. Working with a third-party can be a cost-effective way of implementing a professional ORM campaign without expanding employee payroll. Reputation Defender has been a global leader in this industry since Michael Fertik founded the company in 2006. We help numerous individual and corporate clients establish their brand’s presence on the internet.

Online Reputation Equals Revenue

A 2015 TripAdvisor survey which investigated more than 10,000 hospitality businesses around the world, found that ORM was a top investment priority for 60 percent of hotels. This was in contrast to small scale renovations which were only a priority for 53 percent and other marketing campaigns which ranked at 51 percent. This study shows that hoteliers are recognizing the strong correlation between positive online reputation and sales volume. A TripAdvisor rating, which is based on the quality and quantity of the recent guest feedback, can have an almost immediate effect on booking, so it’s important to already have positive content posted, especially positive customer testimonials.

Establish an Online Presence

How does a hospitality manager counteract the weight of customer opinion which is now so available and measurable on the internet? Every business will face negative online comments at some point. The key is to build a positive presence through brand generated content, so researchers can see at first glance that the hotel has a lot to offer. It’s not enough to build a professional website and move on to other things. Hoteliers need to maintain a constant stream of up-to-date and relevant content, backed-up by thoughtful and genuine responses to guest feedback.

Here are 5 musts for establishing a hotel’s online profile:

  • Optimize the Brand Name – Promote the hotel’s website with Google Business and claim official profiles on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Connect company blogs and secondary websites on an alternate domain to ensure your content dominates as many results as possible.
  • Post Regularly – Fresh content will rank higher with search engines, so make sure you post regular blog and social media updates. This includes multimedia content such as images and videos. Tag the hotel’s brand name in filenames, titles and alt content so that it ranks for that search term.
  • Set Up Automatic Alerts – It’s important to be the first to know about negative feedback, yet it’s impossible to constantly monitor all social media platforms, especially when you are running a business at the same time. You’ll need an automatic system that directly notifies the hotel when new comments are posted. Someone should monitor this feed during business hours and notify appropriate staff.
  • Analyze Feedback – Figure out what went wrong. Was it a one-time lapse in service, an endemic problem that is likely to happen again, or an unreasonable guest who would not have been satisfied no matter what you did? Knowing whether the root of the problem lies in the service department or within ORM strategies will help you devise an appropriate response that limits similar problems in the future.
  • Work as a Team – Set reputation objectives and share these with staff so that everyone promotes the same cohesive brand message. Put a coordinated team in place to handle monitoring and responses. Make sure everyone posting on official social media profiles exemplifies the same professional style.

ORM for hotels is about balancing your own content against what customers say about you. Be ready with a strong, positive online profile, whether this is created by your own staff or a third party like Reputation Defender. Once a comment is posted, it’s time for damage control. Respond appropriately and take action to avoid attracting similar criticism. If you have the SERP already filled with positive, brand controlled content, one negative review will have less effect.

Google Will Pay for Questionable Privacy Practices

Google recently agreed to a $5.5 million settlement in a class action lawsuit in the US. The case dates back to 2012, when the search engine giant was discovered to be using a code to get around Apple’s privacy settings on the Safari browser. The “workaround,” as it has come to be called, allowed Google to collect data on Safari users which it then used for advertising purposes, thus substantially increasing revenues on the basis of “behaviorally targeted” ads. US Safari users who were negatively affected by the advertising accused Google of being both “unfair” and “deceptive,” as well as engaging in “unlawful business practices.”
The internet depends on paid advertising, but privacy advocates believe there should be both full disclosure about what information is being collected and an option to block tracking. Search information says a lot about a person’s habits, and can lead to serious reputation damage if it is leaked. Certain types of unwanted advertising can also be emotionally damaging. Our privacy services at Reputation Defender help to identify vulnerabilities and data collection, even when sources are not being fully transparent.

A sneak attack

At the center of the problem is Google’s lack of disclosure. Apple is known for stricter privacy settings on the iOS platform of which Safari is a part of. Most iPhones and iPads use Safari, making it one of the most common browsers, especially on mobile devices. Apple users of 2012 had come to rely on the privacy and security built into Apple’s products; that is until a Stanford researcher discovered Google was subverting the anti-tracking feature and the study was widely publicized in the Wall Street Journal.
At the time, Google defended its actions, saying it “used known Safari functionality” that was in fact “enabled” by Google account holders on Safari. Some security experts agreed, seeing the issue as primarily a war between the two companies. However, as the case outcome suggests, there is good reason to believe Google wasn’t being entirely honest. Shortly after the WSJ report surfaced, important instructions about how to avoid tracking on Safari were deleted from Google’s site and the company also discontinued data collection on Safari. Google’s information gathering took place over a nine-month period, from 2011-12.

Some people still don’t trust Google

Google is still the go-to search engine, however people are now aware that their connection whilst searching is far from private. Google has tried to address this issue with a recent privacy overhaul. Google still collects tracking cookies on Chrome and most other non-Safari browsers, but it has added an “opt-out” choice that users can enable if they are concerned about privacy. Choosing this option on “Ads Settings” means Google won’t track or collect information on searches or websites.
But the fallout from the 2012 misstep may not be over. A UK group has been attempting to launch a similar British lawsuit. Some UK Safari users have come forward, including a couple who continued to face insensitive ads for baby products after a miscarriage, but as of yet there is not enough information to make a full class action suit.
The award in the US case will not go into the plaintiffs’ pockets, but rather toward further privacy and technology research. Six groups will receive donations, including Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, and the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford. These groups will work to develop better safeguards for user privacy and security on the internet.

Are you a Plastic Surgeon? Online Reputation Management is more than an option for your business

The success of any medical practice today goes beyond the mere skills of the surgeon. An active and updated website, presence in social media, a large database, updated licenses and legal permissions, the best instrumental, clean and pleasant facilities for guests… everything may become completely useless without a proper online reputation. In fact, bad reviews on social networks can make useless any professional effort in a short time, considering that customers pay careful attention to the recommendations of others, much more than what you offer in your portfolio. On the other hand, without reputation whatsoever you will simple have no patients in your schedule.

Not only the physical appearance of your patients is –literally– in your hands: the very lives of them depend on your good work. It may be seen from different points of view, but the business of plastic surgery depends largely on what others say about particular doctors. From a pessimistic perspective, it may be seen as a failure, because a single bad review can spoil years of experience, studies, updates and upgrades on your expensive medical equipment. However, if you’re optimistic (and it is recommended in this case), you could see the issue of online reputation as an excellent opportunity to reinvent and enhance your business.

Now, how could you prevent and what can you do about the negative reviews that seriously affect your online reputation? What could you do so that potential customers perceive the image you want to project? These questions are perhaps the most important you could ask. Indeed: you know what we mean when it comes to improving the image we project to others. Well, start considering Online Reputation Management as some sort of plastic surgery about what others say about you.

Let’s analyze the following steps for improving your online reputation.

Image courtesy of James Mutter at
Image courtesy of James Mutter at

Recommended: 6 Ways to Reduce Negative Comments About Your Business

Create a reputation management plan

The best you can do is to follow an organized plan. This online reputation issue, more than an issue, is a constant work which brings positive fruits only if you take it seriously. To this extent, a plan to manage and improve your reputation may include the following steps:

A. A well-designed, updated and active website (in case you haven’t already created it) in which the names and biographies of all the doctors of your staff are available to the public. Include pictures of patients before and after, positive feedback and comments (if possible, add links to the social network profiles of those satisfied patients). Never forget to allow visitors to write you and (please) answer all questions and concerns from them. Customer service is essential here. It is also highly recommended to include a phone line. Users like to ask personally and the FAQ section in your website will never be enough (no matter how extensive it is.)

B. Use software tools (like Google Alerts, Social Mention or Hootsuite) to evaluate your online reputation permanently. This will allow you to draw better marketing plans, respond quickly and personally to bad reviews and to think how to fix your online reputation in case of a crisis. These tasks require time and energy, and for this reason, many companies prefer to hire specialized organizations like Reputationdefender.

C. Create blogs related to your website. The aim of these blogs is mainly to improve the SEO (search engine optimization) of your name, the name of some of the doctors of your staff or the name of your business. What should you write in each blog? Plastic surgery news, trends, tips, dos and don’ts… You decide. You can write thematic posts in each blog, and try to feed them weekly. Consequently, you will be taking advantage of the complex algorithms of Google and other search engines, so that the content your upload in those blogs is what users see first when they type your name at the search bar (instead of the bad reviews about you, your staff or your business.)

VIDEO – Description: Why online reputation management is an imperative matter for plastic surgeons

In case of a reputation crisis

The first thing to do is to ensure that you have the access and control of all profiles and accounts about your brand. You and only you. If you don’t claim your profile on social media platforms and websites of third-party reviews in general, others can write what they want instead. Be careful here.

In second place, always be aware of what is said about you, and always identify the bad reviews and comments. Attend them, understand every problem and never ignore complaints from patients. In third place, respond as quickly as possible. Perhaps you can’t solve the problem in question, but a quick and thoughtful response from you is something that the public values tremendously. If it is about an impossible problem to solve, offer an apology and try to compensate the patient with any of your services. Remember who is always right when it comes to business. Finally, if you receive positive feedback, always thank the time and intentions of users about it and publish the commentary on your website. People pay attention to that (and that’s free advertising, by the way.)

6 Ways to Reduce Negative Comments About Your Business

Public relations crises happen. It’s not possible to please everyone all the time and every business will eventually face someone who is unhappy. Unfortunately many disgruntled customers voice their feelings in a manner that can threaten to damage the company’s reputation permanently, including publishing negative comments online.

There are ways to reduce the number of dissatisfied clients and negative comments in any business. Basically, providing good service will make your customers happy and keep negative publicity from becoming an endemic problem. Additionally, how you respond to criticism can decide whether it turns into a major or a minor issue. This isn’t a substitute for the kind of online reputation management we do at ReputationDefender ®, but it will make it much easier to get your online publicity back on track with minimal effort.

Here are six specific ways to increase client satisfaction.

  • Respond in a timely manner

    The majority of customer complaints are due to slow response times. If a client sends an email and three days later they haven’t heard from you, they’re likely to take to the internet in frustration. You can avoid this by setting clear guidelines for response times. 24-48 hours is appropriate depending on your email volume, but make sure this is clearly indicated next to your contact information. A simple response indicating the email is being processed can help let customers know they are a priority. On social media, customers expect an even quicker answer. 1 hour to be exact.

  • Practice good communication

    Responding to your customer’s needs will facilitate every type of interaction. This includes effective communication, whether it’s online or in person. Good listening is a skill that is typically thought of in terms or personal relationships, but it’s just as necessary in a business setting. Active listening will help to build trust by making the client feel you care. You’ll also be able to tailor your services more specifically to their needs. Building a strong communication platform at the beginning of the relationship will make it easier to handle difficult issues as the work progresses.

  • Use every day language

    The client enlisted your services in a specialist area because they lack this expertise themselves. If you use jargon and acronyms specific to your field, they’ll likely feel confused about what you really mean. Speaking plain English whenever possible will help the client understand what you are doing. It’s important to sound knowledgeable, but avoid talking down to a client. Remember they are also an expert in their own field.

  • Meet deadlines

    There’s really no good reason for missing a deadline after the fact. If the timeline for resolving an issue becomes impossible, this should be communicated to a client well beforehand. Describe what happened that made the work take longer and set a more reasonable deadline.

  • Take responsibility

    Blaming a specific employee or team won’t clear your company’s reputation since you hired and trained these people. It’s better to present a united front and let the company as a whole take responsibility for the issue. A general statement indicating that internal changes are being made to address the issue is appropriate, but clients don’t need to know the specifics of who’s at fault.

  • Don’t get angry at negative comments

    Your business is personal but keeping a cool head is essential. If a customer is posting negative comments to simply antagonise you, it is better to not take the bait. Social media fails and wins have massive potential to go viral so proceed carefully. If you have done all you can and feel that you aren’t getting anywhere in your attempts to make amends, avoid escalation by disengaging from the argument.

    You can now read Reputation Defender’s new blog post on the importance of online reviews and learn how positive online feedback can help to promote your business.

In the middle of a reputation crisis? Call us:

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Tel: (+44) 800 131 0700

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Tel: (888) 851-9609