The digital world is relentless when it comes to a brand’s online reputation. Negative reviews can impact how clients interact with your products, can undermine sales, and can halt foot traffic for brick-and- mortar establishments.
About 89% of people say that reviews have a direct influence over their purchasing decisions, with the majority noting that they will refuse to interact with a business if they found negative information online.
Why is it difficult to manage online reputation?
Due to the sheer numbers of people who use social-media platforms, information, even negative information, spreads like wildfire.
One negative review can be retweeted to thousands of people in just seconds. It makes it particularly challenging to control the conversation, and control the merits of your online reputation.
For brands, it is a losing battle — there are way too many people, information is spread way too quickly to control, and damaging information is easily accessible — if you aren’t part of the conversation from the beginning.
Thanks to this phenomenon an industry called ORM or Online Reputation Management has exploded and insurance providers like Zurich and Metlife are examining ways they can protect their insurance brokers and employees.
Financial risk meets online reputation risk
According to the latest Zurich Risk Index Survey, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) view online reputation as an essential factor when it comes to the business.
About 41% say they feel that it will become an even more relevant issue in the future according to a recent feature on insurance risk and its relation to online reputation management.
Most enterprises recognise the value of the viable online reputation, but many do not do enough to monitor that metric. It’s a dangerous blind spot for those who aren’t savvy enough or interested enough to track the online conversation.
John Taylor, an analyst for insurer Zurich, notes that over the past five years “business reputation has become one of the top concerns for SMEs”.
Understanding the value of online reputation for SMEs
Even if a business does not utilise an online platform for customer outreach or as a component of their marketing plan, customers and would-be clients are still talking.
An analysis of consumers’ online behaviour reveals that a whopping 81% of shoppers do research online before they purchase a product, and when they do research, they want to engage with a business that is interested in being reliable and reputable.
The consumer confidence index measures how optimistic consumers are, noting that more confident and satisfied consumers are positioned to invest more in services and goods. Negative opinions surrounding your brand will decimate consumer confidence.
Even if an SME is hesitant to invest in an online platform, it quickly becoming a necessity. In the past, businesses relied on a word-of-mouth via stakeholders to establish confidence and trust.
In the modern age of social media and online reviews, the consumer has interjected themselves into that equation. The educated consumer is going to tap into instant communication and will quickly paint the picture of your reputation on a constant basis, and it is up to the SME to respond to the curious consumer.
For an SME, they may think of their online presence as only being their website and social media tools — platforms that they have complete control over.
However, there are other aspects of this communication between brands and consumers. An SME also needs to consider review sites or another person’s posts on social media.
Zurich’s SME includes free tools from Profile Defenders, a leading reputation management provider who has the ability to completely delete and erase complaints about Insurance Brokers as well as a reputation management platform that can track reviews in real time with a central dashboard.
Online reputation tools are notoriously expensive and can be cumbersome, typically only being suitable for large enterprises.
However, for the burgeoning SME that is curious as to what people are saying and wants to do so in a manageable way, then Reputation is an affordable way to access your online reputational risk.
The services from Reputation.co allow their customers — small businesses and SMEs — the ability to track the position of the online reputation in metrics that are easily quantified.
These parameters provide SMEs benchmarks that will also help them compare their performance to others in their niche and spotlight areas of improvement.
From realtors, offices, restaurants, insurance companies and designers, they all have to cater to the online reputation if they want to experience longevity. Consumers are only becoming smarter in their quest to buy services and goods that will provide solutions to their problems.
Brokers need to add valuable risk management advice, ensuring that they are highlighting issues to their clients.
Brokers need to communicate the tenets of managing online reputation, whether a client is even aware of their reputation profile, and what risk management tools they need to mitigate recurring issues and prevent future ones.
Thanks to everybody having access to instant reviews it’s never been more important than it is now to protect your image and brand with positive content and to lower your insurance risk and premiums.