Reputation Management Graphic
Reputation Management – 3d render concept with blue and white arrows flying over a white background.

Have you been asked yet? In the past couple of years you have probably been asked to do this. If you remember the experience at all you might take a second to do it. If you don’t, if it’s too complicated or too involved or takes too long then that’s a definite NO. If everything went without incident then you probably did not. If there was a problem then it’s likely you did. We are, of course, talking about reviews and surveys about your experience with a company, particular product or service. How you answered these questions, if you were thinking like an average person who didn’t own a business, is likely in line with how most people feel or react to these opportunities.

If you own, or manage, a business which could benefit from reviews and testimonials then your perspective likely changes. Maybe you are more sympathetic to participating. Maybe you will leave a negative review if something wasn’t right, but not too negative, as you are trying to help a fellow. You might even leave a positive review if you had a good experience because you hope someone would do that for you. To react in these ways to another business trying to gauge your experience with them puts you in a similar position to many business owners or managers. Elsewhere in our site we quote a study from Forbes Magazine and TripAdvisorwhich found that 97% of business owners thought online reputation is important, 98% of business owners feel that online reviews are important to their success, and 92% of them felt that a social media presence is a key to success

If you are still not convinced that customer ratings and reviews are important, remember the last time you traveled to an unfamiliar location and looked up a restaurant or hotel or attraction. It’s very likely you paid some attention to what was said about the places in question. Also, it may be less likely but still very possible that something negative that someone posted somewhere about your business made its way back to you for reasons that may or may not be fair. To get the praise of positive reviews you have to deal with the sting of negative reviews, even though they may have not interacted with your business enough to justify the rating a customer gave. Chances are you have been involved in one or both of these scenarios so we can conclude that customer ratings and reviews are important to your business, or should be.

It’s probably safe to say that we’ve established the importance of customer ratings and reviews, but is there a way to only capture good reviews and forget the bad ones. A true customer experience meter should be unbiased and doing this means making means available to leave positive and negative reviews. Unfortunately the common tendency among anyone who might leave a rating or review is to leave far more negative reviews than positive ones. Further, if a review or rating process takes too much time, is too hard to find, or is confusing then people won’t bother. No amount of giveaway incentives can overcome a difficult process used to capture customer feedback, and to encourage ratings with a give way risks tainting the reviews you get.

What’s a business to do? Larger businesses, if they solicit reviews at all, can absorb negative ratings but too often any constructive feedback is lost in the shear shuffle and size of that business. For smaller companies whose focus is more local, just a few negative reviews can be devastating to customer traffic or interactions. After some research and much thought, we at JKL Works have come up with a three-step process to get positive ratings and reviews from your current customers to help get new customers and keep everyone satisfied so your business will grow and prosper.

  1. Be Positively Obsessed With Your Customers’ Experience
  2. Actively Solicit Ratings or Reviews
  3. Actively Respond to Ratings and Reviews

Be Positively Obsessed with Your Customers’ Experience: This concept on some level should seem obvious to any business owner or manager. We give customers what they seek because we can provide that particular product or service. This is certainly a necessity for small businesses to survive, but how many of us truly take a longer than normal amount of time to think about or create the right customer experience. While it’s true that you can spend too much time dwelling on, but not implementing, what a great customer experience with your business can look like, most companies are more focused on what they offer than how they offer it. Spend some real time thinking about not only how every customer interaction should go, but how your business can leave a positive impression every time with as many customers as you can so they return again and again. Seek advice on this from trusted advisors but also discuss this with any employees you have or any customers with whom you have a strong relationship so they give you that trusted feedback.

Jim, Mattress Mac" Macingvale
Jim, Mattress Mac” Macingvale

The goal then is to set a game plan about how every interaction is supposed to go and work toward making that happen…every time no matter what. Of course every interaction should go well and all customers should be happy, so how do you stand out in that crowd in behalf of your company? A growing number of our clients focus on “transparency” with no hidden fees or bait and switch tactics. Those in the Houston area know about Jim “Mattress Mac” Macingvale who started in 1981 with a small, dumpy, furniture store in portable buildings in North Houston which has grown to a multi-store regional empire that even includes its own furniture manufacturer. He did this by focusing on how he wanted the customer experience from the beginning, and he hasn’t wavered. If you need many examples of what a customer-experience-focused business looks like, you should also consider reading Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It. This book teaches you to develop repeatable systems requiring the least amount of skill for each position. This is a must-read around JKL Works for lots of reasons, but in setting up these systems businesses create some truly unique, unforgettable and successful small business customer experiences because owners, managers and entrepreneurs made the choice to put the customer experience first and put the systems in place to make it a reality. We found a great video that explains how this works. For this to be successful, you have to make the choice to perfect that customer experience first and foremost.

Actively Solicit Ratings or Reviews: Next, you must adopt the posture that you and your business are open to, and encourage in every reasonable way, feedback, ratings and reviews. Yes you may get all kinds of feedback from the positive to the negative to the downright silly, but they all have to matter. If you have been working on your customer experience then this might be easier than you realize, but some people are uncomfortable putting themselves or their business out there for customer or public scrutiny. Customers like to feel appreciated whether they deserve that appreciation or not due to bad behavior or are always a joy to see come in the door. A friend, colleague and teacher once quoted something he learned at a sales seminar that “everyone needs to be treated as though they have a sign around their neck that reads make me feel important“. Getting feedback and reviews from your customers, especially in a small business, brings this home and truly helps them to feel that importance.

Do ratings work? Ask Tesla or Uber in recent years. Both have revolutionized their respective industries and both have taken some serious body shots for faulty equipment (in the case of Tesla’s batteries causing fires) or faulty processes (Uber’s driver screening issues with some horror stories). Yet both of these companies are able to weather these storms because they get good reviews too. People love these companies and they build loyalty despite their mistakes because they focus on customer experiences and, especially in Uber’s case, ratings as a core part of their business models.

Actively Respond to Ratings and Reviews: So your company may have a great customer experience, and you may give customers every chance to rate or review your products, services or operations, but if you don’t respond either way then these efforts may not matter. You should have a system in place not only to get those ratings or reviews but to act on them. This means posting good reviews in places where they can have the most impact. It also means responding to negative reviews quickly to take advantage of the chance you may have to turn that experience around in your favor. For negative reviews though, it’s also important to give them a way to bypass you if the experience was that bad to have their complaints heard. Purposely stifling bad reviews, called “review-gating”, doesn’t make things better. In fact it can make them worse if the knowledge that you control reviews leaked out. This then taints your results and your company may not recover. On the other hand, responding quickly to negative feedback is an opportunity for you to turn something negative into something positive and perhaps even regain a customer who just had something go wrong that you then made right for them in a way which works for both of you.

If you have made the choice for your business to maximize your customers’ experience and to make actively soliciting ratings into an important part of that experience, there are some tools which can help. In terms of where to put ratings, there are many sites from social media to yellow pages to specialty search sites for your business type which can all enhance your company’s online presence. We have found Google and Facebook, in that order, are the best places to both encourage reviews and to interact with them. If you have claimed your Google My Business page then here is how to set up your own review web address you can share with people. Depending on your business needs, other sites like Facebook, Yelp,, Foursquare, Angie’s List or Homeadvisor have their own systems so you can set up a listing and encourage reviews. What if there was a way to encourage reviews, accelerate positive reviews quickly to Google and anywhere else you wish, respond to negative ratings before they went out, and a way for horrible experiences to pass through ungated?

So many review site choices

Even though you are welcome to go to Google plus any of the niche sites listed above and set up their review system, we have come up with a faster way which can accelerate your customer experience efforts and we’re one of the few In the country with access to it. We have a service called TruReview  which is a closed system which solicits reviews from your contact list or your web site, social media page, or other means. Once reviews come in, you can se the positive ones to show links to post their experience on Google, Facebook, or a host of other sites. As we said above, you still have to deal with negative reviews and any that come through this system are asked to give their contact information so you as the business owner can reach out and try to remedy a bad experience. Also true to an impartial, ungated, review system the customer is shown a way to place their negative review out there without interference whether they provide contact information or not.

So good reviews are posted where you want them to make the most impact immediately. Bad reviews are a second chance for you to turn a situation around before it gets out of control. We are pleased to offer this TruReview service for the starting price of $249.99 a month for life. This offer expires in a couple of months at the end of the year so act now. Call us at 713-588-5498 or e-mail us. Whether you take advantage of our offer or not, making Reputation Management services a part of your business life is now a necessity to avoid getting negative reviews for something you didn’t do and may not even know about. Take advantage of one of the free offers or our exclusive TruReview system for the safety and health of your business.