Online reviews are here to stay.
There’s nothing anyone can do about it. You can either get with the program or be left out. The internet has given customers the power to raise a brand or pull it down using reviews. With it, customers can express their opinion about a brand, whether good or bad.
This power appears to be beyond the control of the brand. Because they can’t control the content of the review, it puts the brand at the mercy of the customers. And so it’s understandable why many business owners shy away from online reviews.
The good news is you are not totally at the mercy of your customers. There are a few things you can do to influence and contribute to the content of the review. Or even to get the kinds of reviews you want.
And it’s all legal.
To level the playing field, nearly all review platforms give business owners the ability to respond to customer reviews. This helps to improve brand-customer relationship among other things.
In addition to that, I have put together 5 components you need to understand in order to make reviews work for you.
As The Business Owner, You Set The Stage For The Review
Before the customer ever walks through the door, you should be ready. You should lay the groundwork for the kind of experience you want your customers to have.
And by ground work, I mean creating suitable company policies and training your staff.
Customers are the life-blood of every business; your business still exists because you still have customers. And so it makes sense that your major objective should be giving customers the best experience.
First and foremost, you must create a policy that is customer-centric. Your policy should be geared towards giving customer a positive experience. The reason for this is simple – a positive experience will lead to positive reviews.
Secondly, did you know that 57% of customer complaints are about poor customer service and employee behaviour?
With that in mind, you should train your staff on how to handle customer complaints. Make sure you have a well-defined hierarchy through which your employees escalate complaints.
It’s In Your Power To Make Your Company Complaint-Friendly
And you should. It will save you a lot of negative reviews in the long run. Making your company complaint-friendly means you will be able to pacify an unhappy customer before they go out the door.
The first step to making your company complaint-friendly is training your staff on how to tackle a complaint. Other steps to doing this include:
- Letting your customers know that complaints are welcome.
- Have a complaint form on your brand website and encourage customers to use it.
- Put up signage displaying a complaint hotline (and also include it on your site).
- Pay regular attention to and join discussions about your brand on social media and online forums. Be there to offer help and provide better information about your company.
- Train your customer-facing staff to always ask your customers for feedback before they leave the premises. And have them document any complaints.
- Do not look at the complaint; pay close attention to the message the complaint provides. It could serve as a valuable indicator of a problem with your business you may not know about.
If you know that it cost 25 times more to get new customers, and that only 13% of shoppers will buy from a brand with 2 star ratings, you will take this seriously.
The bottom line is this – kill complaints before it births negative reviews.
You Should Claim Your Online Review Profile
Thanks to the ‘owner response’ feature that most review platforms now have, businesses can now monitor and contribute to reviews. You can now thank customers who leave positive reviews and seek to pacify those who leave negative feedback.
But in order for you to get involved, you need to claim your profile/listing on major review sites. You need to know what review platforms your customers prefer and what platforms work best for your industry.
As a restaurant owner, you should claim your listing on Google. Because it now makes up for over 60% of online reviews. Additionally, you need to claim a business profile on industry-specific platforms like Yelp or Zomato.
One good way to do this is to make a Google search for the highest ranking review site for your business. Create an account on 3 or more of them. You could also check out where your competitors are getting their reviews the most.
As A Brand You Should Encourage Reviews
Ask and you shall receive, says the good book. This is one of the best ways to collect reviews. Immediately after your customers have a great experience, you should ask them to write you a review. Use your website, social media pages, and email to encourage your customers to write a feedback on their experience.
However, you need to apply some caution here. Not all review platforms allow business owners ask their customers for reviews. In fact, many of them frown at this act.
Be sure to read and understand the policies of the platforms your business uses.
Google is lenient about this just as long as you do not:
- Offer monetary incentives in exchange for positive reviews.
- Pay people to leave bogus reviews.
- Try to delete negative reviews without good reason.
Do these and you are fine on Google. I can’t say the same for platforms like Yelp or TripAdvisor. Read their policies carefully before you begin using these platforms.
You Will Get Negative Reviews
Yes, you will. It’s inevitable. Even if you sold oxygen or life itself, there are those who still won’t be satisfied. You can please everyone equally.
With that in mind, you need to prepare for them. To better handle negative reviews, you must learn to keep calm and have a strategy. Understanding that a negative review won’t end your business is crucial to dealing with them.
You can prevent some negative review if you put point #1 and #2 of this article in place. Nonetheless, they won’t prevent all negative reviews.
To respond to negative reviews, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
- Take responsibility.
- Be honest.
- Keep it short.
- Offer compensations.
- Encourage further feedback.
- Respond unprofessionally.
- Blame the customer or your staff.
- Accuse the customer of lying.
- Insult the customer.
If properly handled, you can turn an unhappy customer into a brand ambassador. Always have something in place to compensate the customer and also demonstrate that you are eager to help.
By the way, do not forget to respond to positive reviews as well. Thank the reviewer for their kind words and invite them back to your business.
You do not need to fear customer reviews. They are actually excellent tools you can use to build trust. Grow your sales. Improve your marketing results. And gain more customers.
What’s not to like?
To get these benefits, remember to master the 5 points outlined in this post. They will help you harness the power of online reviews and make them work for you, not against you.POSTED ON January 15, 2020