Why is online reputation management more critical now than ever before? It’s because your customers are talking about you. The good and the bad are out there for everyone who’s considering using your products or services.
A customer visits your business, they interact with your brand, your products or services and your team. If the interaction is positive there is a 16.8% chance they’ll leave a review, but if it is a negative experience, there is a 19.1% chance they will leave a review. The odds are already stacked against your business because lousy customer service is more likely to be published on online review sites more often than positive experiences.
Online reputation management addresses this phenomenon and helps businesses be proactive in addressing negative comments and gathering more positive reviews. In result, it helps the company grow and capture more of the target market.
Here are the key reasons why reviews are so critical to your business and it’s success (or failure).
1. Reviews help prospective clients discover your brand, and improve SEO.
A substantial portion (13%) of the 200+ factors in Google’s search engine algorithm involve
review signals. The number of reviews, the quality of the feedback, how often customers are submitting reviews and the number of sites your company receives reviews from will all affect your position of local search engine result pages.
Let’s do a quick exercise. Go to Google and type in in “Norman, Oklahoma Restaurants.” The first results are all listed in order of their star rating. Look below the “Places” box, and the first result is TripAdvisor's Top 10.
This time, type in “Coffee in Norman Oklahoma.” You might notice this time the listings aren’t in order of star rating, but if you look closely, the business holding the #1 spot in the “places” box has double the number of reviews as the #2 listing, and triple the number of reviews as the #3 listing.
What would people search for when they are looking for services or products your business offers?
Type it in with a local identifier (or not) and see who is holding the #1 spot on the results page. Is it you? Then who’s in close second? If it’s not you, then check out your competitors reviews and note how many they have, how often their customers are leaving their reviews and their average rating.
2. Customers use reviews to navigate the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.
Reviews provide social proof to a prospective customer. For example, if a customer is looking for a place to eat dinner with the family. They might start on Google to see what is nearest to them. They’ll look at the reviews on Google, but they might also look on other sites like Tripadvisor, Yelp, Zomato or Open Table.
They are probably hoping to see pictures of plates, and hear the opinions about the good (or not so good) service and meal.
Renters on the market for a new apartment might hit up Google or Facebook reviews to learn more about an apartment complex that has their interest.
Travelers looking for a place to stay during their next vacation will look at Tripadvisor, Goupon, Facebook and Google to read reviews on hotels, restaurants and activities in the area.
Reviews are everywhere, and customers use them to find businesses, products and services that might have something they want or need. Then they use the reviews to choose one company over another.
Good reviews might give a client the confidence to take a risk on your brand. Bad reviews might make them weary of your brand. However, an appropriate response to a bad review might restore their willingness to give your business a chance because they have confidence you’ll also listen to their feedback.
Think about the last time you used a review to choose one product over another. How might your customers be affected similarly by reviews?
4. Brand loyalty begins with feedback from the customer on their experience.
Customers want to be heard. When they post about a negative experience and you respond appropriately, you could transition an angry customer into a brand evangelist.
When you first read a negative review, it can feel like a punch to the gut, especially if the information isn’t exactly accurate. It’s true, there are two sides to every story, but hashing out your issues with a customer on a online review site is never appropriate. Here’s what you should do instead.
First, thank them for the feedback, even if it is difficult. Next, let them know you hear their complaint and apologize for their less than ideal experience. Finally, offer them a resolution that requires continuing the conversation outside of the public forum. Ask them to call you, or if you have their email, then reach out to them individually.
Charleston’s in Norman holds a lot of #1 spots in search engine results, and even they have the occasional bad review, and here’s how they respond:
Similarly, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Norman is ranked #1 in Tripadvisor, and here’s how they respond to negative reviews:
Negative reviews will happen eventually, but they can be equally as beneficial as positive reviews. They can give your customers realistic expectations or help you discover problems with products.
For example, if your customers notice the size of a shoe is chronically too small, other customers might order a bigger size than they would normally preventing future complaints. You could also fix the shoe and make sure it is sized appropriately.
5. With enough reviews, customers can help with business decisions.
Reviews, even when they’re painful, give you valuable insight into how your customers perceive your businesses, products or services. It’s okay to have the occasional bad review. Things happen, sometimes a customer is having a bad day, or an employee is having a bad day, and the interaction is … uncomfortable.
However, if you notice a trend of complaints, then maybe it’s not the customers, but instead, it is you. Maybe it is a clue on how you should change your company training policies or remove a product from the shelves.
Similarly, if you notice an influx of positive reviews after releasing a new product or service, then you know that particular direction is a good way to serve your target market.
How do you get customers to review you more often?
Customers have a voice, and they can use it to promote your products and services or warn others against making a purchase. So, how can you find more positive reviewers and solve problems before you have negative reviews?
Here’s some ways to encourage your customers to review your company without breaking any review site policies about soliciting feedback on the forums.
- Ask for reviews when your customer is in the store.
- Send them emails requesting feedback.
- Let them know you want to learn more about their experience on social media.
- Make leaving reviews easy by creating landing pages with links to the right review platforms.
- Always thank your reviewers for their time and feedback.
Managing your online reputation may seem overwhelming and time consuming since there are so many platforms you might need to monitor.
At McMahon Marketing we’re offering a new service so you can outsource all of that work to us. You’ll keep doing what you do best, and we’ll make sure your getting more reviews and responding appropriately to the feedback.
If you want to learn more about what online reputation management involves, then download our newest free ebook that covers everything from improving customer experience with reviews to choosing the right review platforms.