Online Reviews – Business Builder or Brand Buster?
Having a way for your clients to leave online reviews for your business can be a great business builder. But, it is not without potential pitfalls. And even if you don’t have a formal channel for people to leave reviews, if they reach out via social media, they expect a response.
According to a recent study (which I found at Search Engine Watch) more than 70 percent of users expect to hear back from the brand they’re reaching out to on Twitter, and 53 percent expect/want a response within the hour. That percentage goes up if the person is complaining about something. Many indicate if they don’t hear from the brand, they’ll start telling friends and family about their experience.
For the most part, it does seem that brands are rewarded when they engage with their audience quickly. The rewards are both recommending the brand on social media and encouraging friends and family to buy from the brand based on their positive experience.
A few things to keep in mind when you’re responding and managing online reviews:
Some people just don’t believe in giving perfect scores. Ever. It won’t matter how great your product or service was to some reviewers, you will NOT get a perfect score from them.
Reviews reflect one person’s experience with your business. And two people in the same place, at the same time, having nearly identical experiences will have different feelings and expectations.
Most of the time, the people writing the review of your business were people who paid for your product or service and their word-of-mouth (for better or for worse) should carry some weight.
Many times people won’t write a review if they’re pleased, but they will readily write a bad review. It may help to see if you can similar negative reviews from anyone who writes negatively about your business to see if it’s a pattern with them.
So, how do you handle responding? (And yes, you should respond – MOST of the time)
Make sure you have a system. It may help to set up some sort of customer service desk software to make sure you can track and follow up.
You’ll want to respond in a timely manner, but don’t rush. In the case of responding to something negative, make sure you’re not angry or upset when responding, as that has the potential to make the situation worse.
If someone writes a great online review or gives your business a compliment, make sure you respond to those, too. It makes people feel good to know that their voice has been heard.
If someone writes something extremely negative, consider responding privately. If someone is determined to be angry or argumentative, not having it play out where everyone can see it is probably the best course of action. Leaving a message in the public forum that you will be contacting them privately and then actually doing so will bring the best results.
Responding to online reviews doesn’t just affect your business or brand’s bottom line, it also has a big impact on your online reputation, and overall customer satisfaction levels. Online reviews are a powerful form of customer feedback and shows that clients are having conversations about your brand, whether you like it or not. Make sure you have a strategy, make sure your responses are timely and join the conversations happening on online review sites and other similar feedback channels.