Why I’m convinced business owners need to focus on reputation management

Reputation ManagementWhen I headed up the marketing function for other businesses (many years ago now), I came to realise that the best customers always came from customer referrals. These were always the customers that spent the most, that didn’t require much (if any) sales convincing up front, and were generally the least trouble – which allowed us to provide them with immense value.

I loved the idea that great service was being rewarded with referrals and therefore more customers, and I wanted to do more of it. But the problem with growing through direct customer referrals, is that it typically takes a loooong time. Thinking about how businesses could accelerate the process of growing through word-of-mouth was a key driver for building WOMO.com.au (which has grown to become Australia's number 1 business reviews website).

The internet has brought lots of opportunities for savvy small businesses – one of which is transparency. Now, when businesses focus their resources on providing great service and using that to fuel marketing, they no longer need to invest precious time or money in big advertising campaigns or tricky sales tactics. There’s much less energy wasted on non-value adding activities.

It’s a pull strategy which means that your customer feedback becomes a magnet – attracting more and more customers to your business. Rather than trying to ‘push’ yourself on your customers, they’re naturally attracted to you. Doesn’t that sound great?

Whether you call it Reputation Management, Social Proof, Customer Service Transparency, Brand Integrity or whatever, building a strong online reputation has become the foundation behind many many small business success stories. You can read some case studies about businesses using customer reviews here.

Don’t be baffled by the jargon though, it can really be very simple. Just provide good service and get your customers to provide feedback online. Yes really, that’s it.

Rather than have me explain why it works so well, here’s what a few of the businesses using customer reviews on WOMO say;

  • “The best advertising comes from my customers – they write what they think of my services and suddenly I’m getting enquiries from all over town!  I’m now getting 12-15 new clients from WOMO every week."
    Lee Davies, Salon Lavan
  • "The majority of our new clients now come from WOMO – way more than Yellow Pages. Lots of our clients tell us they use WOMO for everything now. We love it when we get a new review – I'll print it out and stick it up in our back room."
    Natasha Varga from Green Butterfly
  • "With customer reviews, we're putting our reputation on the line – but we're prepared to back ourselves. It's amazing how many people will mention the reviews to us.  We’ve had lots of customers come directly from WOMO – and many more cases where WOMO has helped us close the sale."  
    Chris Dimos, Mr Verandah

  • "New customers from WOMO account for a third of our revenue!  It gives me goosebumps when I read some of the great things our customers are saying about us!"
    Misty Singer, Misty’s 1950’s Diner
  • "We've doubled our revenue and we definitely attribute much of this growth to our word-of-mouth reviews. Basing our marketing on customer feedback has been one of the best business decisions we've made!"
    Sarah Stadler, DNA Bathrooms and Kitchens

As a current and former business owner, I know what it’s like to be in the hot seat – pulled in a million directions with a million ideas and priorities on your list.  But one thing I’m sure about now is that building a strong online reputation simplifies things and is the best way to drive growth in a business.  Fiona Adler

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