- By Colleen McNamara
Consider this: 88% of consumers trust reviews just as much as advice from friends. For a business, having a five-star digital reputation is an incredible way to convert online searchers into shoppers. Unfortunately, getting there isn’t always a simple process. In fact, it takes plenty of commitment, strategic thinking – and a combination of a review management or online reputation tool, and consistent sharing of best practices.
The benefits of reviews are enormous: they can improve your rankings and serve as the central forum for you to communicate with your clientele. If you’re managing multiple locations, reviews can help you determine which locations are killing it and where some opportunities for improvement exist. But to reap the benefits, you need to educate yourself, your team and your executive as to why review management is worth your (and their) time.
To state the obvious, the most challenging part of the review world is learning how to approach less-than-stellar reviews. Surprisingly, having some degree of negative reviews alongside solid responses have actually demonstrated to improve business’ online reputation. You should approach unhappy online customers in a very tactful way. The same rules you adhere to face to face apply in the online world.
The time element comes into play in two ways. First and foremost, don’t let reviews sit online completely unattended to — set automatic notifications to get alerts for new reviews. If daily notifications seem heavy for your location and typical review volume, maybe consider a weekly report of your reviews on key directories.
Secondly, take the time to digest what the reviewer is saying or feeling while you consider your response. It can be tough to hear ultra critical feedback. But, take a step back, take a deep breath, and formulate the best, and most objective, reply.
There’s a step-by-step framework that you can follow to ensure your approach is on-point. To begin, own the issue. If the blame lies with you, take fault rather than being defensive, and let the customer know you understand where they’re coming from. Next, confirm that this won’t happen again. Not only will this pacify your customer, prospects will be happy to know the issue has since been resolved if they decide to check out your business. And, lastly, offer a solution to the problem. You can help “fix” the problem in multiple ways — encourage them to allow the right person on your company’s team to contact them in order to handle the issue one-on-one (and away from the public eye).
Ultimately, while people seem much braver behind their computer screen – no matter how frustrating, it’s a new reality in the digital marketing space that needs to be tended to. If you’re pouring dollars into your branding strategy, traffic and acquisition planning, social media and more, make sure that you’re supplementing your hard work by listening to the most important part of the equation: your customers.