In 2020 consumers are more dependent on online reviews than ever before making a purchase.
Consider these stats from BrightLocal :
- 91% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses
- 89% of consumers read local businesses’ responses to reviews
- 86% of consumers would consider leaving reviews for businesses
- Negative reviews stop 40% of consumers wanting to use a business
As a business, managing your online reviews is not only important but essential. Navigating the do’s and don’ts of dealing with online reviews can be daunting, but the rewards are worth the effort. Ultimately, the goal is to improve your brand, connect with your customers, and generate more sales. Your internet reputation is absolutely essential to your business. With that in mind, we’ve created a guideline of 9 do’s and don’ts to guide you along the way:
1. Do: Create and Claim Your Business Pages
Most review sites use public information for publishing businesses and your company may already be listed. If not, go ahead and create a profile for places like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google. You’ll not only gain access to member features like page statistics but creating these profiles will also have a positive impact on your search results.
If your company is already listed, fill out the necessary information to claim your business. What you don’t want, is for customers to leave negative reviews without having the ability to respond. In addition, keeping up with your online reviews will open your eyes to the conversation surrounding your business. Don’t ignore this. Use customer feedback to improve your business. Be sure all of the information is current and correct on your listings. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than to call the wrong number or show up to your business when you are closed. If there are already reviews, respond to them all no matter how much time has passed. Customers don’t want to see any cliffhangers as it reflects that you don’t care enough about your customers to respond to their concerns. Always be polite and gracious even if you don’t necessarily agree with their version of the review. Not only are you likely to win a customer back, you will show future customers that their opinion is important to your business.
2. Do: Have a Process in Place
Before you begin responding to reviews it’s important to have a process in place. If you are the sole employee of your business then it will most likely be you responding to reviews. Come up with a set time each day to put aside for reading reviews and gauging the sentiment surrounding your reviews. If you have multiple employees, designate one person to be responsible for managing online reviews. You don’t want multiple people responding to online reviews. This could easily create confusion as to who is responding to what and ultimately will lead to inconsistencies in your brand’s voice. You want to remain consistent with your online tone and how you are responding.
The person responding to online reviews should:
a) Have a clear and precise writing style
b) Be friendly
c) Be compassionate to customer concerns and feedback
d) Have the authority to speak on behalf of the company and resolve issues
e) Know when to escalate problems to higher management
3. Do: Monitor Your Mentions and Reviews
Many companies offer free alerts and tools which will notify you whenever your brand is mentioned or a new review appears online. Once you’ve signed up for Yelp, TripAdvisor, and claimed your business on Google, you can receive real-time notifications from each platform each time someone leaves a new review.
It’s also a good idea to set Google Alerts, so you can be notified when your company name appears in blogs, video, news articles, or web pages. Google is constantly improving their services and often when your keywords appear in Google Alerts, it is nearly in real time. This is a huge advantage when you are trying to put out a fire, or simply respond to a review. Time is of the essence and shows that you are on the ball with your customer care. Where in the past 24 hours was considered an appropriate response time, consumers now expect a response in minutes. This trend is going away, and the amount of time consumers expect a response is only getting smaller.
There are not only business benefits to signing up with the big review sites, but this will also have a positive impact on your website’s SEO.
According to MOZ’s Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, online reviews are thought to make up nearly 10% of how Google and other search engines decide to rank search results.
Once a new review comes in, make it a point to respond, whether it’s positive or negative.
Time is of the essence when it comes to responding to online reviews. If you aren’t monitoring your reviews you are missing out on both the opportunity to thank supportive customers but also to address and reconcile customers that may have had a bad experience. This gives you the chance to convert a bad experience to a good experience.
- 82% of consumers are likely to leave a brand to a brand because of the service they get, not pricing or products.
4. Don’t: Argue Online
It’s easy when emotion gets the better of you to rattle off a barrage of insults and temporarily put someone in their place but this is not the right way of going about things online. You always want to appear professional and empathetic to others who are dissatisfied with your service or product. There has rarely been an occasion when a business retort to a complaining customer has gone over well. If you’re Wendy’s Restaurant and that’s your brand on Twitter, that is the exception. Most businesses can’t pull of the Wendy’s attitude and the risk isn’t really worth how you’ll come across otherwise, especially on review sites, these simply aren’t the platforms where that sort of humor goes over well. Remember that whenever you comment or respond online, you should be encompassing your companies brand and values. The customer should be at the top of your priorities. Even making jokes about someones experience with the best of intentions can come across the wrong way on review sites.
While it’s important not to appear combative or petty, responding to negative reviews is also a great way to get your side of the story across. Often times there was some sort of misunderstanding that can be sorted out with an apology and open communication. You don’t want to be a complete pushover when it comes to responding to reviews. If someone is flat out lying or slandering you, first report them to the site administrator, if nothing comes from that, respond with your side of the story in a clear and respectful manner.
As essential as it is to respond to negative reviews, it’s also equally important to thank and respond to positive reviews. Showing the customer that you appreciate their business goes a long way.
5. Do: Make it easier for Customers to Leave Reviews.
Remember: 86% of consumers would consider leaving reviews for businesses. There’s a fine line between inappropriately asking for positive reviews and making it easy for customers to leave one. You don’t want to engage in some quid pro quo where you are explicitly rewarding customers for leaving positive reviews. This isn’t helpful to your customers or your business. What is helpful is having a clear picture of your customer’s interaction with your service and product. On the customer side, whether the reviews are fake or not, the truth about how people feel about your product will eventually rise to the surface. Manufacturing positive reviews is not going to help this.
What you can do is have a clear call to action in emails, on your website, or even front desk. It should be a simple process to leave a review. Have a link to the site where you want to improve your reviews. If someone has an incredibly positive in-person interaction with your product at a store, make it east for people to join some sort of rewards program in-store, and from there you can send out your review forms.
Imagine the effect that this could have on your business. While it is important to strive for 100% customer satisfaction, there is bound to be a dissatisfied customer eventually. Having a good base of positive reviews to counteract the negative ones is always a great idea and the more customers you have left reviews, the more likely you are to generate more business as long as you are satisfying customers.
6. Don’t: Generate False Reviews
Generating false reviews is not only a red flag for savvy consumers who are becoming increasingly savvy to fake everything (including reviews), but also can get you kicked off some of the bigger review sites which can lose you even more of your business than the negative reviews you are trying to improve. Fake reviews are also easy to pick out. Most false reviews come from users with very recent profile creation dates and a questionable amount of previous reviews. Think to yourself, would you trust a company that knowingly engages in black hat review practices? It’s not worth it.
7. Do: Become Visible
The tactic of ignoring review websites because you are worried about receiving negative reviews may be tempting but ultimately not the right move. Embracing customer reviews will help your business. You have to put yourself out there. Having no online presence because you don’t want to deal with negative reviews will lose your business customers and even affect your search ranking. If you want to generate more business, you will need to address and embrace customer reviews.
8. Don’t: Miss the Opportunity to Engage
It’s one thing to respond to reviews which might be critical of business or services offered and another to take them to heart and help it shape your policies moving forward. If, for instance, someone walked into your restaurant and waited ten minutes before a server came over to tell the customer it would be another 20 minute wait, and from there the customer left a bad review based on their experience, it may be good to look at how the staff is handling walk-ins during extremely busy times.
Status Labs is the premier digital reputation management firm, with offices in Austin, New York, Los Angeles, London, and São Paulo.