Most shoppers now trust online reviews as much or more than recommendations from close friends. Meanwhile, roughly 8 in 10 users will check online reviews before making a significant purchase. Needless to say, businesses can no longer take a laissez faire approach to their online reviews. Without a proactive review management strategy, you’ll be leaving your reputation up for grabs.
It’s never a bad time to brush up on review management best practices. Below, we’ve compiled a quick set of guidelines to help you:
- Manage bad reviews
- Preempt negative feedback
- Encourage customer reviews
- Leverage online influencers
- Engage with positive reviews
- Avoid dishonest practices
Manage Bad Reviews
Best practices for review management tend to focus on negative reviews — and with good reason! Negative reviews attract far more attention than positive feedback, and many businesses make things worse by responding unprofessionally.
If your business receives a negative review, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Respond as promptly as possible. The longer you wait, the lower your chances of resolving the issue in a positive manner.
- Be professional and empathetic. Avoid treating the review as a personal attack. Instead, acknowledge and apologize for the customer’s poor experience.
- Offer to fix the problem. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to explain the poor experience. Rather than make excuses, offer to resolve or remedy the problem.
- Continue the conversation offline. At the end of your response, invite the customer to contact you directly by phone or email to resolve the situation. This way, you can handle any further complaints out of public view, and you’ll be able to better address the customer’s concerns.
Preempt Negative Feedback
The best way to mitigate negative reviews is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. This can often be done by giving customers a better way to have their complaints addressed. Provide customers with clear instructions on how to contact your business if they’re unsatisfied with your product or service. Often, you can resolve the issue to the customer’s satisfaction before they review your business, reducing the risk of one-star feedback.
Encourage Customer Reviews
Many businesses fear bad reviews so much that they avoid encouraging their customers to leave reviews at all. But this actually makes you more vulnerable to negative reviews. A one-star review will hit you much harder if you have only a handful of reviews. A high review count will also boost your rankings in local search results, and it signals to customers that your business is popular.
Leverage Online Influencers
One of the best strategies for generating new business and higher volumes of reviews is to seek out online influencers. Creating positive relationships with influencers can help you get seen by more users in your target demographic. Influencers also play a key role in shaping the narrative around a given business. When influencers highlight what they love about a business, your customers will pay more attention to these features and highlight them in their own reviews.
Engage with Positive Reviews
Many businesses prefer to let positive reviews speak for themselves, responding only to negative feedback. But this can be a missed opportunity. Engaging with positive reviews can build loyalty with satisfied customers, showing them that you value both their business and their feedback. It also gives you the chance to show off your customer service bona fides. For example, if a reviewer is raving about the TV they bought from your store, let them know where to turn if they need anything or want help finding accessories in the future.
Avoid Dishonest Practices
These days, shoppers overwhelmingly trust online reviews. That trust is hard won. In the past, it was easy to spam review sites to boost your business’s reviews and tank the ratings of competitors. Since then, sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook have put systems in place to prevent these kinds of dishonest practices. So if somebody tells you they can buy good reviews for your business, or if you’re tempted to have your employees post a wave of five-star reviews, think again. Doing so could actually tank your average rating or result in your being suspended from major platforms.