With review sites for almost all sectors now available, there’s no hiding from the inevitable – online reviews will appear somewhere at some time about your business.
Not only can reviews have an impact on click-through rates and encourage purchases, but they can drive traffic to your physical store too. Google’s research found that 3 in 4 people who found local information in search results were more likely to go and visit the store.
With so much influence to both online and offline sales, local online presence needs to be managed and maintained to ensure you’re not missing out on customers.
Online reviews which appear for your company name are a huge driving factor when online users are determining whether to do business with you or not, so how should you be responding to them?
Responding to negative reviews
Companies which respond to reviews, both positive and negative, show a willingness and commitment to their customers and if handled correctly, can often resolve issues and make a full recovery from negativity.
Here are some key tips for responding to reviews about your company:
- Respond fast
Responding to an issue as promptly as possible will significantly minimise the risk of you losing not only that customer, but others who will see the review as well.
The longer you leave a negative review, the more people will see it and the unhappy customer could look to vent on another outlet if their query isn’t answered.
- Be respectful and maintain professionalism
Asides from not responding to a review, the worst thing you could do is treat the customer with a lack of respect. Take on board their complaint and respect their opinion at all times whilst trying to see any issues from their point of view.
Remember that online reviews are public – you’re not just responding to that customer, but to all existing and potential customers.
A negative review can often give you the opportunity to see faults that you couldn’t see before. Absorb what your customers have said and look at whether there is room for improvement or change that will improve your company.
- Be personal
Make your responses personal to each customer; nobody likes a canned response. Take some time to personally address the customer and apologise for any mistakes. The more you can personalise your response the better, this creates a more trustworthy and sincere reply.
- Encourage offline discussion
Within your response you should aim to redirect the customer to either a contact number or email so they can contact the complaints team directly.
Moving the discussion from a public platform to a more private one such as email enables you to resolve any issues whilst limiting the amount of online discussion surrounding your company.
Encouraging positive reviews
A focus on customer satisfaction and customer experience is the absolute foundation for receiving positive reviews. Instead of focusing on how you could incentivise reviews, focus on leaving your customers with an experience that they can’t wait to recommend to others. A strong emotional response from the customer will encourage them to leave a review.
Have a look at your path to purchase, how you treat customers during and after their experience with your brand, if you’re not providing a service which will evoke an emotional response, then you need to rethink your processes.
After this, encouraging happy customers to leave reviews can be as easy as setting up an email marketing database and asking customers (only the happy ones!) for their email address so you can send them further offers and personalised content.
You can then kindly prompt then after buying in-store or online to review their customer experience or product.
Making it quick and easy for customers to leave reviews will also make them more likely to do so. A simple ‘please rate your service with us’ with a comments box will suffice.
Your local reputation
With mobile searches on the rise, local reputation management should be high on the agenda. A huge 92% of people read reviews to determine whether a local business is good or not, and a further 89% of consumers say that they trust them as much as a personal recommendation, according to BrightLocal’s research.
Your local reputation can encourage people to your physical store or to get in contact with you, and if you rely on local trade, this cannot be ignored. Online reviews and star ratings appear in Google’s local business results, so ensuring you’re responding and managing these is essential.
Here are some tips to optimise your local reputation:
- Get a Google Business location set up for each of your branches / stores
- Ensure that the contact information on all of these listings is correct for that location
- Ensure that all company information and descriptions are consistent and on-brand
- Monitor your local reputation on a regular basis to enable you to respond to any reviews or comments
Local reputation and online reviews is something my company, Igniyte, specialises in. If you’d like to discuss how to manage your online reviews and local reputation, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44(0)203 542 8689.