Consumer purchasing decisions are influenced more and more by customer reviews. A survey last year by Podium reports that 93% of consumers were influenced by reviews whilst making purchases online. While 93% may seem high, the phenomenon of customer reviews has long been in development and has come rival business-curated testimonials.
Getting into the Review Game
Whether you have signed up with popular review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, TrustPilot or not, chances are your business may have already received reviews. The larger aggregate sites allow users to add businesses themselves. Take the first step and start claiming your business on these sites where you know your customer or client base is active so you can start seeing what reviews are already being posted.
Know Your Industry and Prioritise
For many small to medium-sized businesses, managing accounts on several review platforms is not feasible. A few will have to be left to fend for themselves with only limited monitoring. Prioritise your time to review channels that makes sense for your industry. For example, if you are in the tourism industry, Trip Advisor would be a natural priority for you.
Google Reviews For All Industries
Google Reviews have been gaining in importance more and more as search engine result pages have developed to include business listings. For businesses that have reviews, they are displayed prominently in the search result page. As Google dominates the search market, any business needs to take these into account.
Personality and Brand Expression
Modern day branding is much more than a colour palette and a logo. Your company’s brand identity is actively constructed through a complex web of give and take between your company and your clients through owned media spaces, employee and customer interactions, and customer perceptions and expressions. The last of these is what is often expressed in the form of online reviews.
Express Your Brand’s Personality
When responding to customer reviews, your company has a chance to express its own personality and take ownership of your tone. Take time to write actual responses and focus on authenticity. Don’t become another automated bot.
If your company does not have a defined tone of voice or branding voice, now would be a good time to address this. Having a defined brand and persona will help you respond to customers or clients in a consistent and meaningful manner that will positively reflect on your overall brand.
Responding to Reviews are Content Generation
When you respond to your online reviews you are, in effect, creating new content. As you actively respond to reviews, you are creating social, PR, and dynamic content that is adding a human voice to your brand. This is a good thing and it should be encouraged.
Negative Reviews and Trolling
It is not uncommon for some business owners to genuinely fear negative online reviews. This fear is justifiable; the internet can be a dangerous landscape fraught with problems and traps, especially in today’s landscape.
Dealing with Negative Feedback
A good friend who worked in hospitality once said, “Negative feedback is like a gift. How else would I know something was wrong?”
The same goes for negative reviews online. How else would you know something was wrong? In an ideal world many of us would love to hear this feedback in person at the time so we would have a chance to rectify it, but that’s not always possible. Fortunately, you have the opportunity to respond publicly to negative feedback online and to express your brand’s identity in the process.
Take the time to digest what your customer is responding to. If appropriate, offer your sincerest apologies and move on. Acknowledging a problem existed and offering a resolution is a positive interaction that can have a major impact.
Recognise a Troll and Move On
Trolling is a common phenomenon on the modern internet and will happen to you eventually. As a business owner you can recognise a legitimate complaint and offer a reasonable resolution. If it begins to escalate, take the high road and move on.
If you have offered a resolution based on your brand identity and your company values, then you have completed your interaction. If the dialogue continues to derail itself, consult the website’s terms and conditions. Chances are the reviewer might be breaking the policies outlined on the website.
What To Do with Positive Reviews
There is always an impulse to immediately respond to negative reviews to counteract them, however responding to positive reviews can have a huge impact. This is when your company has the opportunity to create an additional positive interaction with a customer/client and reinforce your brand’s identity.