While good online reputation management is important for all businesses, it is particularly critical for ecommerce business owners: their online reputation is indistinguishable from their brand. For this reason, we wanted to dedicate a post to the seven things all ecommerce businesses should do to develop and sustain a stellar online reputation.
Use Transparency to Your Advantage
On SiteJabber, we find that the best reviewed ecommerce businesses don’t fear their weaknesses. Instead, they make their weaknesses clear upfront and even use them as marketing tactics.
For example, if you’re a small business, you might explain that you’re a mom-and-pop shop and you do your best to get orders out on time, but sometimes things can take a bit longer. You can then ask them to please excuse the delay upfront.
That way, should you get your shipment out on time, the customer will be pleasantly surprised and, in any case, is likely charmed by the idea of supporting a small business.
Ecommerce stores on SiteJabber have found that being even a little more transparent upfront yields customers who are more forgiving, loyal and likely to write positive reviews.
Start Developing Your Online Reputation Now
Bad reviews are not a death sentence for your brand or your business. But the better prepared your business is, the less damage bad reviews can inflict on you.
Instead of waiting for a bad review to appear and then scrambling to control the damage, well-prepared ecommerce businesses get out in front of negative reviews – by claiming and developing their review pages as soon as they launch their site.
A review page explains your business’s unique story through text, photos and videos and invites customers to write a review.
Developing an online profile on reputable review platforms is not only a valuable tool to generate new business – should your business receive any negative reviews, they can also be read in the broader context of your business.
Keep Asking for Feedback
We’ve found that even savvy ecommerce businesses collect a number of reviews initially to set up their online review presence, but then they stop – thinking they’ve checked the “reviews” box and can move on to other things.
In the long run, this approach won’t be enough to develop your online reputation or your relationship with your customers.
First, simply the act of asking customers for feedback signals that you care about them, and can engender greater loyalty. Second, while you can certainly collect feedback privately, using a public review service can be a more useful way to do it because it gives you the chance to resolve any issues with unhappy customers before they cut and paste their complaints all over the web.
Finally, by listening to fans and critics alike, you can equip yourself with the knowledge you need to keep improving your business and stay one step ahead of competitors.
Cultivate Brand Advocates
Happy customers are a significant resource for all businesses – and this is particularly true for ecommerce sites.
One great review can be read by thousands of potential customers and result in significantly more business. And having a large number of reviews can be a tremendously effective way to earn the trust of prospective customers and improve conversion rates.
Also, make sure your encourage your best customers to engage with other customers and prospective customers, as they can be your best salespeople. (The Q&A section of your SiteJabber review page is a great place for this call to action.)
Respond to Every Review
On SiteJabber, ecommerce businesses that respond to every review have an 86% higher rating than those that don’t.
We recommend publicly thanking all reviewers regardless of how they’ve rated your business. First of all, it communicates to existing and potential customers that you care, and also, it doesn’t look like you’re only doing damage control when you respond to a negative review.
Smart consumers can identify engaged, customer-centric businesses and will reward them with more business.
Address Bad Reviews Promptly and Professionally
Even with an unreasonable customer, the right response can prevent damage to your reputation and even improve it.
By engaging a reviewer and establishing a human connection, you can often not only improve the situation, but even change the customer’s mind. Often, a polite and thoughtful public response to negative feedback can result in the reviewer giving your business a second chance.
If you think you can resolve a customer’s complaint, send them an additional private message offering a resolution. Once the customer’s concern has been satisfied, politely ask the customer to reconsider their review – one study found that 95% of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently.
And remember that your public responses will be read by other potential customers who will see your professionalism and commitment to providing customers the best possible experience, even if you’re not able to reach a resolution.
Don’t Get Trapped Into Paying $$$$
For ecommerce business owners, the basics of managing your reputation on review sites should be free – whether it’s review collection, responding to reviews, an SEO optimized review page in Google, trust seals, review widgets or customer service.
Avoid services that want to charge you for these services, charge to remove reviews or otherwise promise to “manage your reputation” for money. Not only will paying for these services trap you into paying ever increasing fees; if your customers discover that you’re paying for this stuff, it can discredit the reputation that you’ve worked so hard to build.
Ultimately, these services’ pricing and services are not aligned with the success of your business.
Many of the business owners we’ve spoken to are frustrated by the opaque, and sometimes costly, process of reputation management. In our experience, it all comes down to connecting directly with your customers – following up and acting in a personal way that shows you care about their experience. Stay on top of your customer relations, and a stellar online reputation will follow.
Jeremy Gin is CEO and co-founder of SiteJabber,