Online Review Management

Best Practices for Online Review Management

Today, most consumers start their search for products and services online. And one of the first things they do is read reviews. In fact, a recent BrightLocal survey found that  77% of consumers “always” or “regularly” read reviews for local businesses. Meanwhile, 49% said they trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from someone they know.

Online reviews aren’t only for potential customers, though. They’re also essential for businesses. They provide insight into how your customers feel about your brand. They can also help you identify issues that you might never otherwise know existed.

In other words, online reviews can be a powerful tool in your marketing strategy. It’s crucial that you stay on top of what others are saying about you. To do this, you need to develop an online review management strategy. 

What Is Online Review Management?

So, how does online review management work? It involves a few steps:

  • Monitoring various review sites to see what your customers are saying about you
  • Analyzing their comments
  • Taking the time to respond to the reviews
  • Generating more reviews

Keeping track of what users say serves a few purposes. On the positive side, it allows you to see what they like best about your business. You’ll see what’s working and what to keep doing to keep customers satisfied. Good reviews also serve as excellent social proof, showing prospective customers why they should choose you over your competitors. 

What about bad reviews, though? As disheartening as they can be, knowing about them is crucial. They enable you to identify issues that you might not have known existed. They also provide an opportunity to resolve complaints and turn unsatisfied customers into happy ones. 

How Does Your Online Reputation Affect Business Reputation?

When searching for businesses online, potential customers are looking for places they can trust. One of the ways they do this is by reading reviews. 

In addition to influencing purchasing decisions, online reviews can affect how potential customers view your business. Here are a few ways that what others say about you (your online reputation) can impact your overall reputation:

Positive Reviews Result in Long-Term Customer Satisfaction

Generally speaking, the first impression most potential customers get of your brand is through online reviews. Positive reviews tell them what’s good about your business. They can build trust and credibility in your business, especially when several reviewers highlight similar positive aspects. In turn, this can lead to long-term customer satisfaction. 

A Good Business Review Can Boost Your Search Ranking

Prospective customers aren’t the only ones who use online reviews to assess your business. Google does it, too. In addition to factors like content (and content quality), search intent, backlinks, and user experience, the algorithm also considers your reviews. 

A good volume of positive reviews could even help your business land in the coveted “Local Pack.” Also known as the “Map Pack,” this area of the search engine results pages appears above the first organic search result and showcases the top three Google business profiles, including their star rating, reviews, and company details. Appearing here can increase your visibility. It can also help you  earn more website traffic

Negative Reviews Can Push Potential Customers Away

Consumers have high expectations. Research has shown that most potential customers (94%) will  avoid a business because of negative reviews. Meanwhile, 80% trust businesses with four or more stars the most. 

Other research found that businesses risk losing up to 22% of their customers with the appearance of just one negative review. If three negative reviews appear during a potential customer’s search, that risk increases up to nearly 60%.

How to Improve Your Review Management Strategy

With so many people looking for products and services online, you want your customers to talk about your business. However, you should be aware of what they’re saying. Online review management allows you to stay on top of the latest buzz about your business. You’ll gain insight into what you’re doing well and what you need to improve

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways to strengthen your online review management strategy and maintain the reputation of your business:

Register With Google My Business

While there are several search engines, Google is the most popular. It’s the most-visited website, and it holds approximately 92% of the search engine market share. One of the easiest ways for potential customers to find you — especially in a local search — is with a Google My Business (GMB) listing.

If you haven’t already done so, register with GMB. If you have, now might be a good time to make sure your information is accurate and up to date. Your customers can then start leaving reviews for others, including you, to read. 

Your GMB listing is essentially a consumer’s first interaction with your business. It provides pertinent information, including your physical address, contact information, an image of your business, and the services you provide. It’s also a convenient place for your customers to leave reviews for others to read. 

Note: GMB is only available to businesses with a physical location and contact with customers. Unfortunately, online-only operations won’t be able to use it. 

Research Current Reviews From Customers

Google isn’t the only place customers leave reviews. To improve — or implement — your online review management strategy, start by identifying and auditing the sites where people mention your business. Consider factors like:

  • Whether or not prospects would look to them based on what you offer
  • How relevant they are to your business
  • How many reviews are there 

If you aren’t sure where to look, try searing for your business name plus “reviews.” That could provide you with a few starting points. 

As you determine which sites to focus your monitoring efforts on, take a look at what the current reviews say. They could provide insight into how customers feel about your business now — what they like and don’t like — and help you understand how prospective customers might view you. In essence, the information gives you a good starting point. You can use it to begin improving your business, your customer satisfaction, and your reputation. 

Respond to Both Happy Customers and Unhappy Customers

Customer reviews are only a part of your online reputation. Your responses play an integral role, too, giving you a say in how people perceive your business. 

According to the BrightLocal survey, consumers are  more likely to choose a business that responds to online reviews. More than half (57%) said they would be “not very” or “not at all” likely to choose one that didn’t respond at all. 

Don’t only respond to certain types of reviews, though. Make an effort to reply to satisfied and unsatisfied customers alike. Thank your customers for their feedback, and let them know you appreciate their words. Acknowledging them shows that you care and could help boost their loyalty.

When it comes to negative reviews, acknowledge the complaint and apologize for the customers’ experience. Let them know they can reach out to you — make sure to provide a phone number or email address — to continue the discussion. Your response can show that you care, you’re listening, and you want to help set things right. 

Note: Getting a bad review is never fun, but your response is essential. Negative feedback presents an opportunity for you to show customers that you care about them and their experiences. In some cases, it can even transform an unsatisfied customer into a satisfied one!

Monitor and Record Customer Issues to Improve

As part of your review monitoring process, take note of specific issues mentioned. These issues can point toward areas of improvement for your business, especially if multiple reviews highlight the same problem. 

When implementing improvements based on feedback, let your customers know. Detail the steps you’re taking to ensure better customer experiences in the future in your review response. That demonstrates that you’ve heard them and you’re willing to work to make those experiences better. 

Address Issues In a Timely Manner

While reaching out to an unhappy customer — especially when their comments may have been hurtful or inflammatory — is far from pleasant, you don’t want to wait too long. Doing so could cement their opinion of your business in their mind, costing you the ability to change it. Instead, aim to respond within 24 hours.

That doesn’t mean you need to respond at that very moment. Take some time to compose yourself and consider solutions before you start typing. If you aren’t sure of the best way to resolve the issue at the time, let the reviewer know you’re looking into it and will get back to them. Be sure to include a timeframe — such as 24 to 48 hours — and honor it. Update your response to share what you’ve discovered and what steps you’re taking next. 

Ask for Customer Feedback and Ratings

Unfortunately, the people most likely to leave reviews are those who are unhappy. Satisfied customers don’t usually think to share their experiences. However, they may be willing to take the time if you ask, and the information they provide can be beneficial for a sentiment analysis.

One of the easiest ways to request feedback from your customers is with a follow-up email or text message. Thank them for their business and invite them to share their experience online. Be sure to include a link to your website’s review page, Google, or other third-party review sites. 

Note: While not every customer will follow through, you’re more likely to get more happy customers to leave reviews simply by asking. That does a couple of things. First, it gives you a greater volume of reviews. It also means your reviews are more recent, a factor that many consumers find important in their purchasing decisions.  

Simplify Review Requests and Monitoring With Review Management Software

Online reviews have the power to make or break your reputation. That’s why staying on top of what people say about you is critical. However, the thought of having to monitor various review sites regularly, respond to feedback, and request reviews can be overwhelming. 

Fortunately, online review management tools make these vital tasks a whole lot easier. By actively monitoring reviews, you can take the steps necessary to ensure your reputation remains in good standing. 

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