Whether you sell replacement windows, or are a plastic surgeon who specializes in facelifts, consumers today will more than likely research your business online for reviews before they make their buying decision. Because of this, it’s crucial to understand how to manage your business’ online reputation. Ready to dive in? Let’s go.
In a 2018 consumer poll conducted by BriteLocal, it was concluded that 86% of people research online reviews for a business before they make a buying decision. Those same consumers will read an average of 10 reviews for a business before they’re sold on their product or service.
In today’s world where information is literally at one’s fingertips, managing one’s online reputation is not just important, it’s essential, as it directly affects your bottom line.
The unfortunate challenge businesses often face when it comes to their online reputation, is that an angry customer is generally much more inclined to leave a negative review for a business, than a happy customer is to leave a positive review.
Why? Because humans are emotional creatures that are quick to react. We tend to go on the offence when heated after spending our hard earned money.
Consumers Have All the Power
Consumers also understand the impact that poor online ratings have on a business. They’ve also been conditioned to believe that they might get a refund, future discount, or some sort of service just for making a public complaint after a below average buying experience. This, in turn, means that customers are actually incentivized to react harshly through online reviews, in an effort to receive some added benefit from it.
How to Generate and Manage Online Reviews
OK, so you get it – online reviews are über important and if you don’t have a minimum of a 4 star rating on Google Local, Facebook, Yelp, or the many other review sites out there, your business is in more trouble than perhaps you realized.
Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks that business owners and managers can leverage in order to continually improve their online ratings and overall business reputation.
Asking for Reviews at the ‘Point of Good Service’
Seems obvious right? Well, surprisingly many businesses do not actively ask for online reviews at the ‘Point of Good Service’.
Anytime you go above and beyond for a customer, it can be a great opportunity to generate a positive review. If you have provided an added service beyond what was paid for; thrown in a free sample ‘just because’; or consulted a prospect for free because you’re out of their budget – these types of situations are the best time to ask for a positive review. This is because the consumer will feel it’s a fair exchange of currency for you giving them that extra love that they may not have otherwise expected.
Provide Good Customer Service Beyond the Sale
After the sale, there are often opportunities to provide a customer with great service that extend that warm and fuzzy feeling they have about you and your business after they’ve already given you their money.
Some examples might be courtesy calls to ask about how they are enjoying their new product. Or, calling to confirm the information provided on their warranty, or a simple email thanking them for choosing you and your business. Perhaps even a handwritten Christmas card during the holidays. These are all great ways to let your customers know you’re thinking of them after the sale. It gives an additional boost of personal connection to them and your business, and can often result in nudging them to write you that positive review maybe they were thinking of leaving, but at some point forgot. It’s also a great way to keep your business top of mind in case your former customer, or someone they might know, are in the market for your product or service again.
Responding to Reviews Publicly
One of the most important items of feedback I provide my clients all the time when it comes to their business’ online reputation is to ensure they are regularly taking the time each week to respond to their reviews, whether good or bad.
a) For those who are taking the time to say some nice things about you on the web – it’s a nice gesture to acknowledge them taking a few minutes to do so, and that you appreciate it.
On the other hand, for the customers who have left some, not-so-nice things to say about your business, it’s essential to openly, publicly respond to them for two primary reasons:
The first, is that lets the customer know that you do not accept their negative experience as being an acceptable standard for you business; and that you want to do whatever you can to make it up to them or correct the issue.
b) The second, is that tells others researching you online, that you genuinely care about being better, and that you want to use their feedback as a way to improve future service or quality so that others do not encounter a similar experience.
The key here is to put aside emotions and try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. That way, you are able to identify possible deficiencies in your product or service, and leverage it as a lesson to improve long-term, no matter how hard that feedback may be to digest.
Not all negative feedback will be justified, but if you begin seeing regular trends describing unhelpful or rude staff for instance, they might identify areas of improvement you might be looking past.
Lastly, try your best to respond to negative and positive reviews with unique language instead of copy and pasting a canned reply such as “Thanks for your feedback, please call us at xxx-xxxx and we’ll do what we can to help”. Addressing users by their name, and addressing specifics about their review in your reply, humanizes your business and comes off as more thoughtful and empathetic.
Ideal case scenario after a negative review, and public response is that the user removes the review altogether based on your effort to appease them. We see this happen quite often and the effort to resolve the issue, as unsavoury as it might be at times to do so, is always worth the chance of repairing or having bad reviews removed.
Use Reviews as an Opportunity to Improve Online Reputation
At the end of the day, feedback whether negative or positive can be utilized as an opportunity to observe and analyze your business’ service or product(s) from an outside perspective.
If there are trends with positive feedback, such as patrons at your seafood restaurant praising the Dover Sole, think about keeping that dish on your menu! On the flip side, if customers are complaining that your chai lattes are delicious, but maybe a bit expensive compared to your competition, you might want to think about lowering their price-point.
The main goal is to always take customer feedback as a chance to improve. It’s important to make customers feel like their opinion matters, and even when the customer ‘isn’t always right’, it acknowledges their feedback in a meaningful way. Which in turn, will organically generate more positive consumer experiences with your business long term.
There you have it! Now you can see how crucial it is to properly manage your business’ online reputation.
Do you have any other tips for managing business’ online reputation? Let us know in the comments below!