Earning Your Stars: Managing Online Reviews
As a business owner, customer satisfaction should always be your top priority. Unfortunately, not all customers feel comfortable giving feedback on the spot. This means they will often retreat to the relative anonymity of the internet to share their experience with a wide reaching audience. While these reviews are one of the most powerful ways to strengthen and extend your online customer service, many companies actively ignore negative reviews or don’t think that positive reviews need a response. Needless to say, this strategy would never fly in face-to-face interaction.
The fact is, managing your reviews is a huge determinant of online success. By addressing negative responses, you’re showing you care for your customers’ well being. By saying “thanks” to happy customers, you’re showing appreciation for their time and effort.
If you’re still not convinced or simply don’t know how to get started, consider the following guide your first step toward five stars.
Question: Will managing my reviews actually bring me growth? Is it worth the investment?
Answer: In short, yes. Reviews have a huge impact on your online visibility and a prominent influence on purchasing decisions. In 2017, reviews were listed as one of the top ranking factors in local searches. To break it down….
- 92% of people regularly read online reviews
- 84% of people trust reviews as much as their friends or family
- 68% of people form their opinion of a business after reading between one and six reviews
These statistics reveal two glaring truths. First, you need to monitor all the places customers could leave you a review. Second, you should take the opportunity to showcase your top-notch customer service by responding to both negative and positive comments and inquiries. Consider it the digital marketing version of eavesdropping on a private conversation.
Question: That seems like a ton of work! Where do I start?
Answer: Designate someone to manage reviews and hold them accountable for responding in a timely manner ( two business days tops). Also, be sure to put feedback processes in place to ensure comments reach the rest of your staff. When a team member does respond to a review, make sure personalization is part of the standard procedure. Trust us, people will notice if you’ve been copy-pasting
Although it’s tempting, try not to focus all your energy on putting out fires from one and two-star reviews. If a customer takes the time to say nice things about your business, return the favour by showing how much their satisfaction means to you. Plus, users are more likely to leave a review if they see you respond frequently, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Question: What about negative reviews? How do I respond tactfully?
Answer: Repeat after us: be timely and approach with care. As mentioned above, you should opt for a maximum two day response time. The best way to avoid any serious missteps is to receive automatic notifications each time you’re reviewed.
Before you respond, take the time to digest how the reviewer feels and the perspective they’re coming from. Criticism is never easy to hear, but taking a deep breath and stepping back will help you formulate the most professional, objective response. Here’s a step-by-step framework to ensure your overall approach is on-point.
- Own the issue. Be humble and let the customer know you understand where they’re coming from. If the comment is fair or accurate, own it.
- Tell them how you’ll fix it. This will put the reviewer at ease and let potential customers see your dedication to customer service.
- Take it offline. Always encourage the reviewer to take the issue offline and, if possible, contact a specific person on your team.
Question: Alright, I’m convinced! What’s the next step?
Answer: Hold on a sec! Before you hop online and start responding to everyone, your customers must be able to leave you a review with ease. That means your local listing information needs to be on the popular review sites such as Yelp, Bing, and Google. Once these are ready to go, you can start building an online review plan that includes:
- An internal officer to manage the reviews.
- Automated notifications so you don’t miss a beat
- Share your wisdom with friends and fellow business owners!
Although they can be frustrating, reviews are an important reality in the digital marketing space. If you’re pouring dollars into print ads, search engine marketing, and social media, make sure to complement your efforts by considering the most important part of the equation: your customers.