Good or bad, people like to talk. Before the internet, talking and complaining about a company often fell on deaf ears. Now, “talking” has turned to texting and typing about things on-line – and those things have a way of sticking around for a LONG LONG TIME. You should be monitoring these online conversations to make sure your business’s reputation isn’t at risk. More importantly, you should be using these conversations and listening to them to find out how to improve your business.
Below are a few ways you can monitor online conversations and even join in on some of them.
1. Google Alerts
You can set-up google alerts by going to www.Google.com/alerts. Anytime your business name is mentioned, Google will e-mail you an alert. You pick how often you want to receive alerts and the types of content you’d like to be made aware of. After setting up your Google Alerts, you’ll get notifications in your inbox on a regular basis. In addition to setting up alerts about your business, you may also want to set-up alerts about your industry and about your competitors.
2. Google Plus Page
You should check your Google Plus Page regularly for new reviews customers write about your business. While I don’t encourage responding to negative reviews online, I do encourage you to contact customers who leave negative reviews. If you are able to rectify their complaint, you may be able to get them to write a retractment or ammendment to their review.
If your business is not listed on Yelp.com yet, you need to claim your listing. Currently Siri, the voice-to-search program on Apple iPhones, utilizes Yelp’s database to pull local recommendations when people ask it questions. Similar to Google Places, Yelp allows people to rate your business and interact with other “Yelpers” who like to rate places. You can respond to reviews on Yelp if you want to, but you may find better success in contacting negative reviewers directly. You should also note that Yelp will “spam” your review if you’re not a “Yelper” (someone who regularly reviews businesses on Yelp). For this reason, unless your friends, staff, or family members are going to “yelp” on a lot of businesses, you may not want to encourage them just to “yelp” on your business in an effort to improve your ratings.
Even if you do not have a Twitter account for your business, you can still visit search.twitter.com and type in your business name to see what people are tweeting about your business. Things people tweet about can include everything from they just left your business to a 140-character review of their visit. If you want to respond to any tweets, you will need to setup a Twitter account.
Following conversations about your business online is only one step. You should be proactive in contacting customers offline to rectify problems and ask them to post retractions or addendums if you are able to satisfy them. You should also utilize the things you learn about your business online to reach out to your customers and improve your business operations.