5 AI Trends in Online Reputation Management

Artificial intelligence (AI) has had an undeniable impact on the business world, and it’s estimated that by 2030, AI will contribute to a 21% net increase in domestic GDP in the U.S. Meanwhile, a recent survey found that 64% of businesses expect AI to both increase productivity and improve customer relationships.  

It’s therefore not a surprise that AI has found a place in online reputation management. Many reputation management software providers are finding new and ever more useful ways to incorporate AI into their products to help businesses enhance and manage their online presence with greater efficiency and success so they can attract, convert, and retain more customers.

But AI is also controversial. Some people fear that AI will adversely impact human workers and others are concerned that the technology isn’t safe enough yet to prevent misinformation. 

These concerns are legitimate. But whether you wholeheartedly embrace AI — or consider yourself a skeptic — the technology is here to stay and its use cases will continue to evolve to meet new and changing business needs. Figuring out the benefits and best uses for it — and discarding the hype and the hoopla — can help you use AI to your advantage without negatively impacting your staff or your customer relationships.

Designed to enhance key processes and impact the ability for businesses to reach, understand, and engage with customers in effective ways, here are five AI trends in reputation management that are gaining traction. Not all of them may apply to your business, and some are still in the speculative realm as to what the impact could be (see AI-powered local search below). But it’s helpful to be aware of them and consider how they might benefit your business.

1. AI Reputation Management – AI-crafted responses

One of the most productive ways AI can be incorporated into the reputation management workflow is through tools that streamline ordinarily time-consuming tasks like review responses. Replying to every review your business gets comes with a heavy time burden. Analyzing each review for sentiment and specifics and then writing the response to accurately match these details isn’t a quick process for the human doing the job. 

You can cut down significantly on the time spent managing reviews by using a reputation management platform with a built-in AI component that can analyze reviews and automate human-like responses to them. The AI tool creates responses that match the sentiment of the review (good, neutral, or bad) and references the specific products or services mentioned in the review to include an important element of personalization that helps the response feel authentic to the individual. 

With AI assistance, you and your staff have more time, energy, and focus to put into other worthy activities that can help grow your business. Just as importantly, AI can also improve the quality of your review responses so that you’re able to maintain good relationships with your customers and keep your credibility intact — both which contribute to a positive business reputation.

2. AI-powered local search 

An important part of reputation management is using local search engine optimization (SEO) effectively to boost the visibility of your business in search results. Predictably, AI is now making inroads into the local SEO arena.

Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) is a mouthful of a name but it really just means using AI to generate search results. When a user does a search query, instead of providing a list of website links, SGE generates a conversational answer to the query and also includes relevant images or videos. 

An SGE result is quite a change from what users are accustomed to seeing, especially if they simply need a list of local business recommendations and don’t want to get a paragraph of potentially superfluous information. Given how SGE results work, it’s very possible users could begin to interact differently with the search results, which means the rules for optimizing Google Business Profiles and websites could change (again). 

It’s unclear yet just how much — and how fast — SGE specifically and AI generally will disrupt local SEO practices, but it’s important to stay apprised of how these search tools are evolving and could impact your business so you can adjust your expectations and strategies accordingly. 

3. AI-enabled, real-time customer feedback 

Customer feedback and surveys are another central component of reputation management. They help you gauge customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your business and understand what to pay more attention to — or fix — so you can improve the customer experience and increase customer loyalty. 

Instead of thinking about customer feedback as something you ask for immediately after a purchase or during the post-sale phase of the purchase journey, you can start to think about feedback as a proactive tool to be used at any point along the journey. AI-based real-time feedback tools can interject at any point with a feedback request, then provide fast access to the data to speed up business intelligence and responsiveness. 

With this approach, you’re not analyzing a batch of survey responses at some later date; you’re seeing immediate feedback in the moment. You can get insight into any or every step of the purchase journey, identify customer pain points as they’re happening, and surface changes that can improve the customer experience and help you build a more positive business reputation.

4. AI-based chat tools 

In our fast digital world, answering customer inquiries over the phone or through email takes too long when the customer just needs a quick answer. That’s why being able to talk to customers in the moment when they have a question or a problem is a major win that can help you solidify a reputation among your customers that your business is reliably responsive.

Chatbots have been used by businesses for a while as a form of frontline customer service. But with AI and machine-learning algorithms fueling today’s generation of chat tools, many have now been elevated to a true extension of the brand or business — able to use nuanced interpretation and authentic brand language to have contextually appropriate conversations with customers that get to the heart of a question or issue. Instead of talking to a robot, customers feel like they’re talking to a real human. 

Relying on chatbots to interact with customers can still feel risky to some — especially if you have a small local business where much of the value you provide is your ability to nurture customer relationships in person. But the trade-off is that in situations when human engagement isn’t always available, efficient, or preferred, AI-based chat tools can step in and provide prompt, seamless, on-brand engagement that delivers a positive customer experience and can cumulatively bolster your business reputation.

5. AI-enhanced online monitoring  

Your “reputation” in reputation management is literally formed by customers talking about your business online. So knowing exactly what your customers are saying across channels — including social media and third-party review sites — is imperative if you want to be able to take control of your online image and shape it the way you want. 

For example, each time someone makes a comment on social media or leaves a review, it’s a prime opportunity to chime in and tell an uplifting brand story or reinforce specific brand messaging. Monitoring your social media accounts and tracking reviews enables you to enter the conversation and help direct the outcome of those conversations in your favor.  

With advancements in technology, online monitoring is now much more robust, making it easier to analyze public perception as it’s unfolding — rather than wait for a quarterly report to tell you what you want to know. 

Once again, AI plays a role. AI tools with predictive capabilities can survey the online landscape in which your business has a presence and alert you to a coming shift or crisis in public perception based on what your customers are saying. With this foresight, you’re able to get ahead of the crisis or shift by delivering targeted, proactive responses in the moment — instead of reacting after the fact when it’s much harder to change public perception.

Supporting your reputation management strategy with AI 

Ultimately, one way to think about AI is to look at it like other technology trends: it arrives with a big splash, but when the drops settle, that’s when you start to see where the true value is and how you can specifically use it to give your business a competitive advantage. When used strategically, AI in reputation management can position your local business for greater visibility and competitiveness while driving business growth through better customer experiences.  

Many customer experience and reputation management platforms today offer AI capabilities as part of a comprehensive feature set that give businesses the ability to do and understand more at a faster pace.

Platforms with built-in AI give you the streamlined workflows and tools you need to collect, monitor, and respond to customer reviews and feedback, increase conversions and revenue, and gain insight into necessary business improvements that can optimize the customer experience. Combined with other popular tools like SMS marketing, AI functionality enables you to engage with your customers in quick, relevant, personalized ways that build customer interest and loyalty. 

To learn how GatherUp’s customer experience and reputation management platform with AI capabilities can support your business, start a free trial



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