Online reviews tell a story about a business, one authored by those who have purchased a company’s products or used its services. Customers place a lot of weight on these reviews: the good ones can convince potential buyers to pull the trigger, and the bad ones can scare these same potential buyers away. We’ve put together a guide containing strategies to help your business approach online reviews in a smart way, ensuring you can use positive reviews to your advantage and use negative reviews to become better.
Let’s get started.
Put a Strategy in Place
Before you do anything related to online reviews, you should first put together a strategy to help your business handle them. It’s recommended that you assign a point person to this responsibility so you can keep your messaging consistent. If you have a social media manager at your company, this person is already well-suited to communicate with your customers on sites like Facebook, Google, and Yelp. You can also outsource the task to a reputation management agency to have this area managed by specialists who can respond to your customers and alleviate any of their concerns.
Customers living in the world today expect instant gratification, thanks to instant communication via channels like Facebook and Twitter. While it’s not entirely reasonable to make yourself available 24/7, you should do your best to respond to customer reviews online as quickly as possible, especially if a customer is dissatisfied with your product or service. The longer an unhappy customer goes without hearing from your company, the more their animosity may grow. If you respond quickly and let the customer know you’re working to provide them a satisfactory resolution, it’ll be easier to repair the relationship.
Say Thank You
Those words of wisdom your mother drilled into your brain all those years ago also holds true for business: if someone gives you something (in this case, feedback), say thank you. When you receive a glowing review from a customer, it’s something you’ll likely have no trouble doing. But it’s important to also thank customers who offer up their criticisms, as it can serve to highlight an area you may need to improve. This constructive feedback is extremely valuable, and the person who delivered it clearly cared enough to take time out and give it to you. A “thank you” is definitely in order.
Mention the Person by Name
One only has to look at the comments section for any blog or news website to see that, sometimes, we forget that on the other side of the Internet tubes sits another human being. People have an inherent need to be acknowledged, and to feel they’re an individual who matters and not just an avatar on a website. When you respond to someone, use their name. Treat them online as you would in person. Say, “Thank you for your review, Bob!” or “We’re very sorry you had this experience, Esmeralda.” Personalizing your response will help you build a stronger relationship with your customer.
Approach every customer interaction in a polite and civil way. Even if the customer is angry with your business and really lets you have it in a review, it’s crucial that you always remain calm and collected in your response. Many a business (clearly not using online reputation management services) has become Internet infamous for overreacting to negative reviews online, doing irreparable damage because they chose to insult customers rather than understand their criticisms. Responding with kindness can also help cool a customer down, diffusing a situation before it gets out of hand.
Ask What You Can Do Better
If a customer isn’t crystal clear with their criticism, don’t be afraid to ask for more detail. This approach has two benefits: it lets the customer know that you genuinely care about making the situation right, and it shows other customers that when you mess up, you’re willing to own up to it and fix your mistakes. Not only can you turn what a customer tells you into actionable to-dos for your business, you can turn a critical review into a showcase for the outstanding customer service your company provides.
Reference the Customer’s Next Purchase or Visit
Regardless of whether the customer leaves you a good review or a bad one, you should always go out of your way to invite the customer back. Something like, “We hope to see you again soon!” or “We look forward to your next order!” is great when a customer has expressed satisfaction with your product or service. Should the customer leave a review about a poor experience, you can respond with “We’re very sorry. We promise to do better on your next visit,” or “We’re incorporating your feedback to ensure this won’t happen again.” It’s important to let the customer know that they’re always welcome to do business with you, and that you appreciate their patronage.
Play Up Good Reviews
When a customer leaves you a favorable review, it’s an opportunity to turn that customer’s great experience into an advertisement for your company. You can work quotes from a customer’s feedback into product descriptions, for example, or create an entire testimonials page to highlight the positive messages you’ve received. Some companies even give front-page priority to really good online reviews, using them in large headlines that are hard to miss. Positive reviews are what we in the business call “social proof” — evidence you can present to potential customers to show others have been happy with what you have to offer. Social proof is incredibly effective, so if you have it, use it.
Share Reviews with your Team
Online feedback doesn’t only benefit the business owner. It can also help your team offer better service to your customers. When you get reviews, both good and bad, set aside some time so you can go over them with your employees. The good reviews can inspire confidence in your team and let them know that their hard work isn’t going unnoticed by your customers. These positive remarks can also help your team members understand what they’re doing right so they can continue doing it. Negative reviews are learning experiences. If customers are unhappy with the way certain things are done at your business, sharing these reviews can help your employees make the necessary adjustments to provide great service.
If your company needs help handling your online reviews, turn to an experienced search engine reputation management service. Contact iwebcontent today to learn more about how we can work with your business to shine up your online presence.