3 Tips to Ensure Your Online Reviews Match Your Quality of Service

Considering the amount of time, effort and hard work it takes to establish and maintain a successful business, it’s not surprising that most business owners wish they could receive only good reviews from customers, and in great abundance. However, no matter how hard you may try to prevent them from happening through providing excellent products and services, bad reviews do sometimes happen. The good news is that good reviews can help to negate the damaging effects of bad reviews, and if you focus your attention in the right place, you can ensure that online reviews actually match your high quality service.

How to Encourage Accurate Reviews

1. Closely monitor all online reviews regularly, and encourage satisfied customers to provide honest reviews. If you don’t know what your customers are saying about you, it becomes incredibly difficult to figure out where you are succeeding in business and where you are weak. Positive reviews can help to neutralize the damaging impact of negative reviews.
2. Find out exactly where customers feel you should improve your products or services, and work to create and deliver what is needed and wanted. Most customers have an opinion about a product or service, but they may not actually take the time to write an online review. However, these opinions do matter, so it is valuable to collect data through customer surveys immediately after product purchase or receipt of service. You can then address issues as they arise. One thing to bear in mind is that all feedback–including negative reviews–is constructive, if you are willing to listen and respond with genuine care and concern. Immediately addressing a negative review can rapidly turn a critic into an advocate who will be singing your praises to everyone they can.
3. Share customer stories, being sure to highlight the uniqueness of your products or services, and engage with your customers around these stories. Customers appreciate feeling like they are truly valuable, recognized, appreciated and heard. By sharing customer stories that demonstrate the value of your business you will not only connect more deeply with existing customers but also pull new customers into your business.

A business that is routinely engaged with their customers and has an absolute abundance of honest, positive online reviews cannot be harmed by a few bad reviews, especially if they immediately take action to address and resolve the problems outlined in the bad reviews.

Justine Sacco’s Reputation Incinerated in Seconds

In 2013, Justine Sacco was preparing to board a flight to visit family in South Africa over the holidays. As she was waiting by the gate during the final leg of her trip, she tweeted, “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” She laughed as anyone else would laugh at their own jokes and carried on her way to being seated on the flight. Sacco boarded the flight and started to sleep since it was going to take 11 hours to reach her destination. After she reached her destination, she opened her phone to find multiple confusing texts, an old friend felt sorry for what she was going through and her best friend sent a message asking Sacco to call back immediately.

Sacco’s twitter feed became a slaughterhouse for Sacco’s reputation. Her tweet during the trip destroyed her name and the online community started to attack her with no hesitation. What made things worse is that she is the senior director of corporate communications at IAC, a public relations company. There were a few tweets asking people to post pictures of her when she landed at the Airport. A twitter user actually did go and take a picture of Sacco and post it on twitter stating she was trying to hide with her sunglasses.

Justine Sacco’s reputation was beyond destroyed, she was labelled as an inconsiderate idiot. The online community was not playing nice with her statements. Especially when people have anonymity, they never hold back.

This tweet exploded and ended up loosing her job and friends in the process. She almost lost her family back in Africa who are African National Congress supporters, the Nelson Mandela party; they were also longtime activists for racial equity. Justine Sacco gave out a public apology on what happened; however, it didn’t change the minds of her bosses. She was let go soon after the incident and especially being part of a PR firm, they couldn’t keep her on because it would have been suicidal for the company. Imagine a reputation management company forgave an employee for a public racial comment; it would be quite ironic.

The internet destroyed Sacco’s life and reputation that she built over time. Granted, she was the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Africa, but she did many things on her own and got that job by earning it instead of using her family ties to win it over.

Justine Sacco was later interviewed by someone from the New York Times. They wanted to hear her side of the story. When speaking with her, they realized that she did not believe those words to be literal. In fact, after meeting up with Sacco and talking for a whole day, she said that joke was a way for being sarcastic and commentating on the fact that Americans live in their own world or bubble while they ignore the rest of the planets problems. The major problem here is the fact that the readers took the message quite literally. Even so, that shouldn’t warrant anyone to share their damaging thoughts and beliefs in public.

3 Tips for Inbound Marketing

Marketing has a wide variety of aspects where you can focus on sales, advertising/promotion, research and customer service. However, if one were to be precise, inbound marketing is quite detrimental to many companies today. What is inbound marketing? Simply put, it is the promotion of the organization or product through blogs, podcasts, newsletters, SEO, social media and other forms of content marketing which works to attract customers throughout the various stages of the purchase cycle. With many theories and strategies concerning inbound marketing, it can be quite simple to execute as long as you follow three simple tips.

Tip #1: Know The People You Are Trying To Reach

It is quite useful to build a client persona and ask yourself, “what type of person am I trying to attract or reach?” If you are a company that sells musical instruments, would you be located up north near farms or industrial companies? Most likely not.

What helps is to create a list of personality traits of an individual you want to reach out. One of the best ways to figure out these personality traits is through research by using surveys. It’s quite simple to conduct and depending on the material, very fast and inexpensive to acquire the information needed.

Tip #2: Be At The Location Of Your Customers

Positioning is key to success because any organization must be easy to access by customers. Expecting clients to come to wherever you are is extremely risky depending on the nature of your product or service. In order to maximize on potential sales, one must need to focus on deciding on a prime location for the business. If you were a greasy burger joint, you’re not going to set up shop next to a gym or yoga studio. You need to know where and when your clients will be if they are hungry or craving a burger. The usual rushes for food is between 11 am to 1 pm and then 4 pm to 7 pm. You make sure you set up in a busy pedestrian area and in front of work places where all the employees who don’t bring a lunch can eat out at your burger joint. Another important aspect is online awareness. This is achievable by posting content regularly on your blogs or social media pages and having a link back to your website is a huge plus.

Tip #3: Regular Contact with Customers Helps To Build Long-Term Relationships

You go shopping at your favourite mall for some winter clothing and after three hours of spending money, you come back to your car with many flyers for Chinese food under your windshield wipers. Out of a 100 cars, one or two people are bound to succumb to their tastebuds which are triggered by the flyer.

Flyers and coupons are very effective tools to maintaining constant contact with their customers. Especially coupons when they appear regularly from the mail, newspapers and social media. Remember to focus on potential, current and former clients; best way to focus on them is by nurturing. Learn to innovate at the right moment, communicate concisely, and educate your clients in order to keep them attracted to your products and services. This also serves as a regular reminder that you are probably the best solution for their needs or wants.

The main purpose of inbound marketing is to attract companies with a solid reputation. Either you have a reputation of providing amazing customer service or insightful information regarding the industry you are apart of. Attracting clients can never be easily executed without a solid reputation to back up your name and that is built over time with outstanding customer service.

Did Ryan Lochte Cost the Olympic Team’s Reputation?

The Olympics in Rio has ended and the American team came home with the most medals won in a foreign country. Especially the swim team by winning thirty-three medals and the next best team, Australia, won ten medals. However, the swim team wasn’t completely met with smiles and hugs.

Most of you have heard that after the Olympic ceremony, Ryan Lochte and his pals went out for a late ride. He claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint by men who looked like local police officers. The people and the media quickly believed what he said because of the Rio’s notorious crime rates. However, it did not happen the way Lochte had stated, which he told the story on national TV. As the truth slowly started to emerge, Lochte kept changing the story and quickly left the country, where his teammates had to encounter the backlash from Rio.

Security footage emerged soon after which clearly proves Ryan Lochte was lying. The other men had no other choice but to come forward. They ended up vandalizing a gas station while being drunk and the security guard who was working pulled out his gun in order to scare the men into staying until the authorities arrived. Witnesses who translated for the swimmers said they didn’t want to involve the police and offered to pay out of their pockets for the damages. The guard accepted their money and the men left the scene.

It may have been a heart pumping encounter but a lie which ended up hurting the reputation of the swimmers. In an interview with Matt Lauer, he asked Ryan why he lied to the press about the “robbing?” His response was:

“It’s how you want to make it look like. Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion, or us paying just for the damages. We don’t know. All we known is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money.”

It’s as if he truly believes in his own story. Ryan did state that he was sorry and felt terrible for leaving his friends to deal with the mess, as well as taking the attention away from the Olympic athletes.

Sadly, the liars are not the only individuals who were affected by this incident. The entire American Olympic team is under the shadow of this horrific story. Now, when you include Gabby Douglas’s response earlier this week, this topic becomes a racial matter. The irony is that the Olympics is about coming together with all the different countries to enjoy the games.

Since the Olympics are over, the athletes are about to face another major task, endorsement deals. Even though Gabby Douglas has gone through a storm concerning her reputation, her stock is actually rising. Many media outlets are supporting her resilience and this can lead her to more endorsement contracts.

When it comes to Lochte, his endorsers are probably seeking legal loopholes in order to drop him because they are afraid of killing their reputation by association; and this could potentially affect the entire American swim team.

In the end, even athletes need to care about their reputation because without their sponsors or fans, they probably won’t get paid or worse, take part in the next Olympics.

Replying to Emails without Tarnishing Your Reputation

Email marketing is widely popular amongst many businesses; this form of marketing can be used either by a corporation such as Amazon or even a small diner where they send you birthday coupons after signing up for online newsletters. This has transformed the consumer landscape as well. Many customers have realized it is much easier to express their complaint through emails rather than to wait in line for about thirty minutes. The interesting thing is that going to the physical store and waiting in line has always served as a nuisance to most people but with emailing, more people are inclined to send their complaints. Now businesses are faced with training their employees on how to respond to those complaints because it’s extremely difficult when it comes to communicating with clients over emails since body language is removed from the equation. Also, many companies still don’t know how to respond to angry emails without ruining their online reputation but there are a few things to consider when replying to an angry customer.

Go Away

One of the best ways to react to an angry email is by simply walking away. Many employees tend to say things in the heat of the moment without thinking it through and this can backfire by affecting their name and the company name. It’s always best to walk away and come back to the email when you calmed down.

It’s Not About You

In most cases, employees who are tasked to responding to customer service emails take them personally and that is the number one mistake; you shouldn’t because it most likely wasn’t you why the product or service wasn’t working well. Remember, you are there to fix their issues and yes the customer will express themselves accordingly but you need to remember to focus on their problem and not your own emotions.

Enter the Sender’s Email Last

Never be in a hurry to reply to an email. The best thing to do is always type up the body of the email and read it afterwards to notice if this email would be a mistake.

Repaint the Person

When dealing with an extremely rude and profane person will likely leave you in a bad mood. Best way to shake this feeling off is by imagining that your friend or relative wrote this email. You’ll most likely be confused and will naturally want to figure out what’s the issue.

Reply to What they Need

It can be quite tempting to retaliate by insulting their grammar or syntax; however, this will only escalate the issue even further and risk your reputation. You need to ignore the emotional construct the person wrote their email and focus on the main issue at hand.

Keep out the Absolutes

It’s beneficial to not use words such as ‘definitely’ or ‘never’ since it will only weaken your reply because there is no such thing as absolutes. This will only serve as a catalyst for another problem in the near future.

Use the Luxury of Time

If you have the time to reply later, it is highly recommended. Always take advantage of the time because if you received an angry email, take time to think on it and then come back in order to reply with a clear head.

Your online reputation can be incinerated in an instant because of a simple email. Do not jeopardize the years of growth the company had to endure for a silly old email. Follow these tips on how to respond to an email and this will probably prevent you from making a silly mistake that can tarnish your reputation.

Ashley Madison Scandal – A Year Later

As of today, it has been a little over a year since one of the most infamous websites, Ashley Madison, was hacked. The hack was performed by Anonymous and the names of the members were released which caused major personal damages throughout the country. Many high-profile figures had their reputation ruined, along with regular individuals who used the site. Taking a look at this hacking scandal can illustrate any major changes that occurred to the web and how people view their online privacy.

The Ashley Madison site had over thirty-six million members when it was popular and its extremely difficult to know how many individuals were affected. There was a huge spike in divorces and reputations were destroyed until Profile Defenders came to help these victims. Profile Defenders successfully deleted or removed personal information for Ashley Madison victims.

The biggest victim of this attack is Ashely Madison itself. This website operated in the dark but it didn’t fair well when it was the topic of conversation. Even though it was heavily advertised, the name Ashley Madison were spread through word of mouth. The website is still active; however, it’s not how it once was. After the attack, the website was met with so much resentment and anger. The site had a huge loss of revenue and after a few months, the website has already lost 25% of it’s clients as well as it’s reputation for helping married individuals to have a discrete affair. The business tried to rebrand itself by focusing on discrete encounters versus extra marital affairs. They still had to face a half a billion dollar lawsuit and the financial situation only became worse. The organization was trying to stand tall right after the hack but everyone and the company knew they were done.

Many of the customers were encountered with personal issues at home after the attack, but others sought help from reputation management services to make sure this didn’t affect their future. Profile Defenders are the company that has been helping the most of these victims after the attack. They were efficient at removing their incriminating information from the net. Profile Defenders work didn’t just help it’s own customers, it showed that other online reputation management services is needed for an individual who places importance on privacy. This illustrates a difference in people who decided to take action instead of those who do not. Even though there is a lot of time for those individuals to fix their reputation, it’s only possible for people who take swift action that can fully recover from a massive attack such as this. Profile Defenders have built software programs that can actively protect their clients from situations where even their information was leaked, they would still remain safe.

A year later and many lives have changed. The site is still operational but it’ll never be as popular as it was before the attack. However, the biggest change is how clients view the importance on online data security.

Fake DMCA Reports, Websites, Perjury Committed by Reputation Management Firms

Many Organizations and individuals have begun seeking services from reputation management firms to help elevate their names or websites on search engines. However, there are many who offer services for suppressing or removing any negative results. This industry is completely legal but when reputation management companies start to file fake DMCA reports in order to remove legitimate content, that is downright fraud.

What are DMCA’s? It stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act and essentially this allows organizations or individuals to remove any unauthorized content from the web by sending a notice to the infringing party. There is a trend where reputation management firms are filing for DMCA in order to remove legitimate content where there are no violations of copyright issues of any kind. A good portion of those fraudulent DMCA’s were made after the content was released online. There are legitimate services where they help take down unauthorized content but what these fraudulent firms are doing is practically a crime.

Web activism is an anonymous group online who help investigate fake DMCA’s in order to protect the removal of real content. In April 2016, Tim at Techdirt revealed fake DMCA notices that were used to attempt at taking down a legitimate news source and their content. Tim stated that reputation firms risk civil damages when executing a fake DMCA since the payout is far higher than the risk. If they somehow get caught, they would simply settle matters with the actual copyright owner quite easily.

The way reputation management firms have changed over the years, the harmful ones, they create dozens of fake sites and blogs; they commit identity theft, impersonation and perjury. On a single client, they can make $3000.00 up to $10,000.00. The shocking thing is that this has been going on undetected for a long time.

Web activism started their hunt after encountering their own problem when they posted a news video on YouTube about a sexual assault charge on Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi. Within days of uploading the video, the Sheikh’s reputation agency used a fake DMCA to get them to take down the video (didn’t know it was a fake at the time). They always wondered how an Indian from Delhi who claims copyright for an interview recorded in Minnesota. One of their friends who’ve gone through a similar case, found out the DMCA was a fake. Then it took web activism about a month to fully comprehend the reputation industry, especially the unethical organizations.

Web activism spent many of their days searching and analyzing DMCA reports to spot the fake one’s and what they found just baffled them. They have found a little over 5000 fake DMCA reports and started to investigate them. Web activism starts to investigate and gather substantial evidence and then they pass on the material to prosecutors, judges and even Google to pursue in order to shut down these crooked reputation firms.

Warren Buffet Thinks Reputation is Invaluable and He’s Right

Warren Buffet is a world renowned investor; he is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway who is valued at sixty-six billion dollars. How does someone like Warren Buffet maintain his streak of successful endeavours; the answer is quite simple, reputation management. This is one of Berkshire Hathaway’s most prized asset; it may be intangible but powerful nonetheless.

Researchers have discovered that a solid name built by reputation management can have a real monetary value. A few studies demonstrate that a well known reputation can in fact replace a line of credit. Warren Buffet is aware of this and he would gladly pay a premium for a good reputation. He doesn’t only pay more for businesses with more integrity, he is also willing to pay to maintain or increase his own name.

It was in 1972 when Warren Buffet was interested in a company called Wesco. During the time, Wesco almost purchased another company but Buffet stated that the price was too high. Eventually the CEO of Wesco pulled out of the Merger and cleared a path for Berkshire to takeover but the way it was done was unprecedented. Wesco’s price fell to $11.00 a share, which was normal according to the circumstances. That price was a steal for anyone to purchase but Warren Buffet thought it wouldn’t be fair to purchase Wesco at this price since he was the cause for Wesco’s drop in stock price. He decided to purchase Wesco at $15.00 a share. The entire business world and the SEC were confused to what Buffet had done. The question that was raised is, “why would anyone in business pay more than the valued or asking amount?” Warren Buffet explained how this helps to build integrity for both sides of the transaction. The premium he payed has an economic value since integrity helps to build a good reputation in various dealings with other companies. At the time, many people within the industry didn’t understand Buffet’s strategy but as time went on and how Berkshire continued to grow, people finally started to comprehend his Wesco purchase strategy.

The name he created for Berkshire Hathaway is the reason why entrepreneurs seek out investments from them and this leads to more prospects for Berkshire. The integrity is what gives them the advantage when they are in a bidding war. They are able to purchase a company at a lower price than the rival bidder(s). This was proved with the acquisition of RC Wiley, a home furnishing company in 1995. The rival bidders were offering $200 million for the entire company but RC Wiley sold it to Berkshire Hathaway for $175 million. RC Wiley technically paid $25 million to be acquired by Berkshire Hathaway. This is how powerful a good name can be, it can force other companies to take a financial hit.

Reputation is the single greatest tool that anyone can easily overlook. A good name can lead to a company wide culture of trust, loyalty, and admiration but companies and entrepreneurs can easily destroy their name. That is truly the scariest factor about reputation, it can take you years to build a solid name but only seconds to destroy it. Warren Buffet is strong but a fair person and he’s said, “lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

9 Ways Pokemon Go Can Boost Your Business Reputation

As many witnessed in the past week, Pokemon Go has become a huge phenomenon that is sweeping the globe. A good portion of the users are men and women who grew up with Pokemon when they first came to the North American market in the late nineties. This age group is 25 to 30 and there are still plenty of children who got into the later generations of Pokemon. On top of that, there are still quite a number of people playing Pokemon Go who never took part in any Pokemon games.

This is a game for smart phones that allows people to catch Pokemon by navigating their own cities. This game utilizes GPS (for players location) and camera on the phone (to place the image of the Pokemon in the real world; augmented reality) where they have to swipe the poke balls towards the Pokemon in order to catch them. This has successfully led children and adults to going outside and getting exercise.

This is a game that can possibly change the mobile gaming landscape and is quite important to keep oneself up to date on any new forms of technology or trends to better reach out to customers. For the longest time, many companies worldwide have started to advertise on social media by either paying to place their add on the side or by simply posting their own videos on pages they created to communicate with their followers. However, Pokemon Go has shown a huge spike in activity and it has greatly surpassed Twitter and Facebook for daily use; which it still continues to grow. This is an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on the Pokemon craze by applying some of the 9 ways Pokemon Go can help the reputation of your business.

1) Understanding the lingo

Business owners should learn the main concept of Pokemon and more in order to reach out to this particular crowd later on. Sometimes knowing a specific Pokemon and carrying a conversation about it can make a huge difference when it comes to attracting a customer.

2) Knowledge of Poke stops near your business

In the real world, players will be stampeding around Poke stops or spots filled with Pokemon around the city. Within the game, Poke stops are blue cubes where you can get items which are located based off a real world map. For example, a local park can be a Poke stop. If there is a Poke stop located close to your business, you are in luck because this is an amazing way to lure customers to your store to spend time looking for Pokemon.

3) Post screenshots of Pokemon discovered in your store

If you do have a Pokemon Go account, its an easy way to post pictures of Pokemon found in your store which can attract people to come and try to catch rare or different Pokemon. Also, taking a picture of a Pokemon that appeared in store next to a product is easy and cheap advertising. There is a good chance customers or random visitors who came to catch Pokemon will take pictures in your store and post it on social media.

4) Reminding customers you have wifi and outlets

This is an easy way of getting customers to come into your business or restaurant to charge their phone and use your wifi since the game tends to drain the battery and use data. This way they can recharge in your store and create more traffic to your store which can lead to more sales. Especially if it’s a restaurant or coffee shop.

5) Have promotions with names that correspond with Pokemon Go

If a business were to use a Pokemon theme for selling promotions, this can attract a wide variety of customers to the business. Even if there are no promotions, if you use the Pokemon Go lingo to demonstrate your awareness, it’ll go along way with your customers.

6) Use in game Pokemon Lures at Poke stops near your business

A lure is an item that you attach to a Poke stop that functions as bait for Pokemon. If your business is close to a Poke stop, by placing a lure there, you will create lots of traffic to or around your business. If you don’t have a lure, you can always buy a lure for one dollar which would be an investment for the business.

7) Use Pokemon images to advertise on your sidewalk marketing

There are tons of ways to catering to Pokemon Go players and one efficient way is by letting them know they are welcome to the store with simple pictures that represent the Pokemon franchise on posters or chalk boards for sidewalk marketing.

8) Cater to a team and Rotate

Within the game, there are three teams or guilds a player can join when they reach level five (Valour, Mystic or Instinct). Players have demonstrated strong levels of loyalty to their teams and by simply catering to each of the teams can definitely benefit the business. The most important thing they should remember is to rotate which teams they are catering towards either on a daily or weekly basis.

9) Pokemon Gyms

Pokemon gyms are places where they battle with their Pokemon and gain in-game gold by holding onto the gym as long as possible. With a possibility of having three guilds who are all battling for a position at the gym, this will attract hordes of players toward your business and it’ll be even better if your business is the location for the gym.

This is a huge phenomenon that gained traction over night and people are still learning how to adapt to it; which makes it the best time to get ahead by downloading the app and learning firsthand what this game is precisely about. This is one easy way of focusing on reputation management for the business and this includes the acceptance and possibly some rewards for Pokemon Go players who will want to support your business. This is not your average mobile game, it’s a phenomenon that is reaching out to people on so many levels. Pokemon is brotherhood to many; where loyalty is what matters most in any fellowship.

Mobile vs. PC

This might be a surprise for people who don’t use many smart devices but people are using their smartphones more than they use their laptops or PC’s. A survey was conducted in United States by Local Search Association (LSA) and Thrive Analytics with 2,147 samples. LSA stated that active mobile users shop excessively and about 60% of adults conduct their product research on their smartphones.

LSA also stated that about 70% of about 18 trillion dollars US GDP comes from consumer spending which occurs within 20 miles of their home or work. In 2014, $300 million of that is e-commerce (a little behind offline shopping). LSA said, “40% of consumers use desktop PC or laptop when looking for local information online, a nine percent decrease from 2014.”

Mobile fanatics or in other words, active users are a new and growing consumer sector. Active users are constantly shopping and seeking products whether they’re at home, work or a hockey game. Smartphones or any other portable devices make it extremely easy to access websites such as Amazon, eBay, or any business related website that uses e-commerce.

LSA states that they need to not only understand why active users need to shop but what and what to purchase. The underlying question they need to answer is; what is relevant to mobile fanatics? LSA found that PC’s and laptops are and will be crucial for e-commerce and the mobile era has not reached the tipping point; however, they are making major changes in how and what people use to search information about companies and consumer products.

The evidence suggests that mobile users are extremely dependent on their devices and this dependency only continues to grow whether they need to constantly text or shop, it has become a part of their lifestyle.

The LSA study discovered the following:

1- 52% of Smartphone users search for information either in their car or on the go

2- 90% of all users have at some point used their device while shopping; 54% of these users searched for deals while 51% used their devices to compare prices with other retailers

3- 45% of active users utilize the store apps to seek info on certain products or sales while they’re in the store

Consumers today tend to cycle online and offline information regarding companies, products or services from A to Z of the purchasing process. This is the era that marketers can flourish by simply knowing and deciding which content they can use to affect a consumer’s decision regarding the time they spend on mobile devices.

Major companies must realize that in order to succeed in today’s market; they will have to utilize online reputation management and marketing on mobile devices. Weber Shandwick stated, 83% of consumers admit online reviews play a pivotal role when it comes to making a purchase decision and 81% of consumers state online search results can affect their thoughts about a company. Retail firms need to focus on their reputation online in order to attract a potential customer in an extremely competitive online market.