Your Online Reputation and Why it Matters

Benjamin Franklin once said that it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. The reputation of a company has always been important, but perhaps never so much as today. Living in this Internet age, it is much easier to learn the reputation of companies, not only the ones down the block, but also those halfway around the world. Knowing your company’s reputation is important to your brand but equally important to the bottom line.

Researching Online

Marketing departments have long known that one of the most important tools for getting the word out about their business is through word-of-mouth recommendations. While advertising is about what you say about your company, recommendations focus on what your customers are saying. It is also believed that for every public review about your business, there are many more customers who feel the same way but simply have not taken the time to formally express it.

The Internet makes posting a review simple, and it makes that information easily available to the masses. Studies show that the majority of Americans today go online to research products and companies before moving forward with a purchase or arranging to do business with a company. Because of this, it is important that you pay attention to what your online reputation is, and become proactive in building it.

Encourage Customers, Follow Up

A great way to build your online reputation is to encourage your customers to spread the word and write reviews. There are many places on the Web where customers can write reviews about a company, good or bad. Encouraging all customers to review your company, product or service is one of the best ways to take control of your online reputation. Consider identifying specific places where they can leave reviews, or even provide a list of such sites on the company website or in your online newsletter.

Once people have been encouraged to leave reviews about the company – whether favorable or not, take the time to keep up with those reviews. Setting aside some time each week or bi-weekly to search out and read the reviews can be beneficial, and using that opportunity to respond to reviews can help build a positive online reputation.

As with most situations, there are individuals who have found ways to ‘work’ the review process. There are people that get friends or family members to stack the deck with glowing reviews. There are even companies that pay writers to whip up favorable reviews. As tempting as this may seem, avoid engaging in such behavior. If the word gets out that your reviews are bogus, it is going to be more damaging to your reputation than one or two less-than-perfect evaluations. Besides, consumers can often pick up on the trend, and will learn to discount the reviews outright.

Learning, Moving On

While online reviews can be helpful to a consumer who conducts research, they can also be a valuable feedback tool for the company being reviewed. Rather than immediately discounting the negative comments, be sure to consider the full context and overarching themes of the negative comments. The information may be accurate and valuable in helping to improve the overall customer service experience or in creating a better product with enhanced features.

In the end, when you have taken the negative information into account and made positive changes, future write-ups about the company should be much improved. Today, Benjamin Franklin might well give his quote a second thought and revise it to say “it only takes one bad review to help a company see the error of its ways and make improvements.

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Online company reviews appear on everything from personal blogs to Amazon.com. Setting up a Google alert with your company’s name can help keep you informed of anything new that comes out about your company. Once you have set up an alert, any time your company name is mentioned online and Google picks it up, an e-mail link will be sent to you.

Other good places to check online reviews include:

Maps.Google.com – This is the most important of all review sites since these reviews have a significant impact on your local search results.
Yelp.com
Shopping.com
CitySearch.com
ConsumerSearch.com
Epinions.com
JudysBook.com
AngiesList.com
Superpages.com
What should you do if you come across a review that is false or possibly slanderous to your company? Contact the website directly and explain that it contains false information that could be damaging to your company, then request the site to remove the review and/or allow your company to post a written response to it.

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How Banking Institutions Can Benefit from Web Analytics

If you have been thinking that public perceptions of the banking industry have been sinking over the last year, you are correct. In fact, in a report by J.D. Power and Associates, they state that the overall satisfaction with retail banking experiences is down considerably since 2007. Along with the banking financial bailout situation, consumers are reporting being unhappy about banks offering poor problem resolution, having long wait times, and charging additional fees. So just what is a bank to do? Think about improving your customer’s online experience by leveraging the power of Web analytics.

Web Analytics for Banks

The banking industry, just like most others, is a prime candidate to use Web analytics to improve their customer’s experience. After all, of the biggest problems that consumers cite for being unhappy with their bank, and ultimately leading them to switch to a new one, can be addressed through their online presence. You can help streamline your customer’s banking experience by offering them a safe and smoothly operating site where they can conduct their transactions, leaving wait times behind. You can also address many of their problems online through a good customer service, a frequently asked questions page, or a knowledge base system.

Using Web analytics, a bank can use the information collected to learn about what their customers need and want. Then they can aim to fill those gaps, offer them what they need, and make their experience easier and more satisfying, so they remain customers. Besides, research shows that satisfied online banking customers are more likely to tell others about their experience than satisfied customers that do their banking in person.

The Benefits

While most large banks have already taken advantage of using Web analytics, many others are still sitting on the sideline. The analytic process measures the performance of your site and what the customers are doing. It can also let you know how long they stay on your site, what pages they arrive through and what pages they tend to exit on. It can also give you an idea of who is using your site.

Online banking has become the direction that many people have gone in the last several years. Web analytics can help you not only bring in more new customers, but also allow for comparison between how many you are getting online versus in person. The process can also help increase the conversion rate of bringing in new customers online by identifying what search terms people are using to find your site, see what banner ads are working and which are not, narrow down your audience, and identify how to reach them online.

Additionally, Web analytic tools can help create a better customer experience by making sure new and potential customers are served pages to help get them to register, while it offers current customers pages that are relevant to them. It can also serve them pages that offer additional products to meet help their needs and expand the business they do with you.

Looking Ahead

Most likely, we have yet to see online banking reach its fullest potential. But as banks begin to see the benefits of being online, they can also utilize the informational tools at their disposal in order to help improve a smooth customer experience.

Whether you use Web analytics for e-mail marketing purposes or to see just how effective a site you are offering your customers, the possibilities of the tool is far reaching. And according to the J.D. Power study, higher customer satisfaction translates to committed customers, which is good news for banks and customers alike.

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10 Things Web Analytics Can Do For Your Site:

  • Identify key search terms used to locate your site.
  • Determine what banner ads are successful.
  • Compare how many customers join online versus in person.
  • Help narrow your audience and locate them online.
  • Offer relevant pages to potential and new customers, as well as produce better results.
  • Measure the overall performance of your site.
  • Give you an idea of who is using your site, how long they stay, etc.
  • Find out what page customers enter and exit on.
  • Help determine what your customers want and need.
  • Increase customer satisfaction rate.