Why Does Your Company Need Review Management?
With the high degree of trust consumers place in online reviews, the nature of these opinions can enormously affect a brand’s reputation and the likelihood that consumers will choose to purchase from that brand.
You may find dealing with customer feedback across multiple sites, initiating review removal against trolls, and addressing negative customer experiences stressful. However, all these aspects of online review management are essential when doing business nowadays.
Why Is Online Review Management Important?
Four out of five consumers read online reviews for local businesses and notice whether you respond to what they say.
Consumers trust this online feedback as much as word-of-mouth from people they know, which makes your responses important. Google also rewards or punishes you in terms of ratings based on whether or not you respond.
Responding to positive feedback shows that you are engaged; providing swift, empathetic, and tangible redress for customers who’ve had a negative experience can turn their perception of your business around.
Moreover, other customers see you respond, boosting their confidence in your company.
Reviews help boost your business’s credibility, generate leads, increase revenue, and boost search engine ranking without you having to spend a dime.
Lots of negativity results in your business appearing lower in search results, harming your chances of being found by potential customers. Avoid this by getting plenty of feedback. Ten bad reviews out of fifty could destroy your business; ten out of five hundred will barely register.
Active review management lets you identify user-generated content (UGC) for use in marketing materials. As 79% of consumers say that UGC significantly affects their purchasing decisions, leaving it on the table would be unwise.
How Can Negative Reviews Help Your Business?
Some negative comments about your business are fake; others are real complaints from unhappy customers.
While you should report fake reviews to the site in question (Google Reviews, Facebook, Yelp, TrustPilot, etc.), genuine negative feedback can be highly beneficial for your business.
They allow you to respond swiftly and help your customer, potentially winning them back and demonstrating to everyone else that you take notice of your reviews and care for customers.
Nobody is perfect, and consumers are wary of businesses with nothing but positive mentions. This scenario shows that you are hiding things, making you less trustworthy, and reducing the chances that they will choose to use your services or buy your products.
However, responding empathetically to unhappy customers so that other consumers can see your response leads to around 70% more business!
Negative reviews by polite customers also increase business, so being kind and respectful to consumers helps you in this way, too.
Negative feedback helps you identify areas where your business can improve, so thank the consumer who brought it to your attention and take action to remedy matters.
A business with only positive reviews may find its account on that particular site suspended, negatively affecting SEO.
How Should You Create a Review Management Strategy?
As with most aspects of business, it’s best to have a strategy.
1. Identify the Important Review Sites
Identify the review sites where most of your potential customers will be looking, the ones most relevant to your industry and your business in particular. Google and Yelp are likely among their number, as these are the major forums for reviewing most companies.
Many people also post on Facebook, as they already have an account on this site.
Other sites will be more particular to your niche. If a site only has a few reviews about your business, you don’t need to focus on it; if it barely mentions your industry, you can safely ignore it. Claim your business on the sites you have identified, so you have authority over your business page and can manage it.
Create a plan for dealing with reviews:
- How often will your company view each site?
- Who is responsible for monitoring these sites?
- Who is accountable for writing responses?
- How quickly will you respond?
- What key points will you use to craft replies?
- What are your policies for compensating customers who’ve had a bad experience?
2. Learn How to Identify Fake Reviews
Some negative feedback is genuine, but fake reviews may be created by malicious trolls, disgruntled former employees with a vendetta against your business, or agents of unscrupulous competitors.
Google does automatically screen for fakes, but some slip through.
Here’s how you can identify fakes:
- You never had this person as a customer.
- They have a suspiciously low number of reviews (maybe even only this one related to your business).
- The reviewer has left multiple reviews, but many promote a specific competitor while bad-mouthing other companies in the niche (including yours).
- They have posted several in one day, probably using a throw-away account.
- Details in the complaint don’t match your business.
- The complaint is liable to be liberally sprinkled with exclamation points.
- Ratings without comments may be genuine, but they don’t offer much value to your business regarding feedback or to potential customers to know what to expect from you.
3. Review Removal
If you encounter fakes, you may want to undertake review removal; however, the only way to do so is to approach the review site and report the review for violating their policies so that they will do the review removal for you.
Ensure that you understand what the review site considers a violation so that they will consider your request. Google forbids various categories of unacceptable content, reviewing one’s own business or those of competitors, and duplicate content.
In your Google Business Profile account, navigate to the Reviews tab, and scroll through the customer ratings and comments. If you believe a review is fake or violates Google policy, flag it as inappropriate, and complete the survey to tell Google why you think it needs to go.
4. How to Respond to Reviews
Respond to all feedback and acknowledge specific details (things fan love or suggestions for improvement).
You’ve been on the receiving end of business replies to feedback or seen answers given to other consumers.
Didn’t you feel that the companies that responded by mentioning that a particular improvement is in development, or will be rolled out soon, were listening more to their public than those who gave a vague reply?
Thank people for taking the time to give you their opinion (favorable or not). Fans feel appreciated, and people you have let down may become fans, too, if you handle their criticism the right way.
Respond to trolls by saying that, unfortunately, you cannot find any records of a customer or a transaction matching the account, but you take their concerns seriously and request that they contact you personally.
Doing so shows real consumers that you know the review is fake but are staying polite and professional – which helps boost your image in their eyes.
Respond quickly to customers. You look competent, limit damage to your reputation from a negative review, and show your fans that you actively engage with them. Around half of all dissatisfied consumers expect a reply within a week.
5. Responding to Negative Reviews
Before responding to complaints, discuss them with other team members rather than firing off quick, dismissive responses that will stoke the disgruntled customers’ anger.
Then respond publicly to the unhappy customer so that other consumers can see that you care; reaching out privately as well is a good idea. Don’t use a pro forma response; make your replies personal.
Aim to move to a one-to-one channel such as email, live chat, or telephone. Be honest about your mistakes. Customers understand that anyone will make mistakes; owning up to them makes you stand out in customers’ minds and makes them loyal fans.
If you’re unsure of the problem, ask questions to clarify. Offer solutions to your customer – simply saying you’re sorry isn’t enough!
If you can, offer them recompense for their bad experience. For example, if they complained that your steakhouse overcooked the steak they ordered, offer them a complimentary steak.
Sign off your response – this shows customers that you value them and the relationship and that they are talking with a real person.
Finish off by requesting that they update their initial rating and comments; many customers will be happy to do so.
If you have your customers’ phone numbers or email addresses, send them a message after they’ve bought from you, requesting that they leave a review of your business (while some sites discourage this practice, others, such as Google, allow it).
Never pay reviewers to praise your business; this is against Federal Trade Commission guidelines and Google policy.
Using Review Management Software or Services
Navigating each review site can be time-consuming, and you may miss feedback you really shouldn’t. Several software services aggregate customer feedback into a single dashboard where you can respond.
Alternatively, you can use the services of brand management experts to provide their skills to manage this part of your online reputation. Choose a company you can trust to source genuine, unpaid reviews from satisfied customers and provide timeous, helpful feedback to dissatisfied ones.
Review management – whether you handle it yourself or outsource the work to a reputable agency – should be a cornerstone of your online reputation strategy. You’ll gain priceless insight into your customers’ experience and access to opportunities to turn a frustrating experience into a positive outcome for everyone involved.