How many of you read reviews on a restaurant before you eat there? Or research a product before you purchase it? Or even browse Glassdoor reviews before interviewing at a certain company? We all know why online reviews are important: they’re one of the first things people look to assess authentic representations of your business. It is where people go ‘to find themselves’ and relate to people with similar wants and needs.
More than any other time in history, customers have more ownership over the content that is associated with the products and services they consume. They have the power to dictate how a company is perceived at every stage of the buyer’s journey. This can be good or bad depending on Google and Yelp’s opinion.
The customer’s role in the review process is clear, but the brand’s is a little murkier. Luckily, Megan and I attended the Social Media Breakfast today on managing your online reputation. With a lot of humor and a great presentation given by a former Spyder Trapper, Aaron Weiche, we were able to synthesize the major takeaways that you should be aware of when creating an online review strategy.
Megan’s highlight – increasing your online rating and reputation
Make it clear that you and your company are passionate about receiving customer feedback regardless if it’s negative or positive. This is the most important part of making sure your company is continuously receiving online reviews. Any organization that cares about customer service or consumer satisfaction will make it clear and easy for you to leave a review on their product or service. Weiche says there are four ways to increase your amount of online reviews:
Personal ask – Direct someone to your Yelp or Facebook page upon point of purchase and state that their feedback is valued.
Handout – Place handouts, brochures, or business cards at an accessible place in your business so visitors can easily access information about where a customer can praise you for their great experience, or give constructive criticism on how you can improve theirs, and others’ experiences.
On the site itself – This unfortunately isn’t seen too often, but has grown a bit over the last year since reviews have become of such importance. Some websites such as have inserted a call to action (CTA) at the TOP of their page for a customer to quickly leave a Yelp, Google, or Facebook review.
Platforms - Be sure be present on the platforms that are offered for your business to be reviewed on. Be available on more than one platform and make sure your reviews are recent and relevant. Nobody wants to read a review that is 7 months old about a menu item you no longer serve.
Customers ask "What have you done for me lately?" 69% of consumers believe that reviews older than 3 months aren't relevant #smbmsp99
— Spyder Trap (@spyder_trap) April 21, 2017
Taylor’s highlight – handling negative reviews and feedback
When I was just starting a career in public relations at my university, we were constantly presented with negative reviews. Sometimes, the reviews held constructive criticism. Other times, we were confident that there were people whose sole joy in life was to sit and hurl angry insults from behind the safety of their computer screens. We constantly weighed out the pros and cons of replying to these types of comments and reviews. And usually, our fear of a digital shouting match erupting in the comment section prevented us from taking action.
I realize now that what that communicated to our audience was that we didn’t care about their customer experience. To prove to your customers that their feedback is valuable, you should (almost) always reply. Too often, we shy away from negativity because it scares us, or it intimidates us. In actuality, negative reviews serve as vehicles for improvement. So don’t loathe negative reviews, embrace them and simply be prepared to handle them in such a way that yields value to your online reputation.
You need people to point out your flaws – they are building blocks for continual improvement #smbmsp99
— Taylor Werdel 📖 (@SnappingTwerdel) April 21, 2017
Make it easy for people to reach out provide their genuine experiences – not every customer is going to feel comfortable sifting through a 50 question survey of irrelevant details (yes, companies ACTUALLY do this) to provide two pieces of their real feelings.
Welcome complaints just as much as positive remarks – the customer’s story is now your story. Their perspectives directly represent your brand, product, and services. Own it.
Resolve the complaints by having a structure in place – your customer’s problems are your problems. Personally invest in the issue and express that you want to do something about it. Remember, reviews can be updated and changed.
Respond with empathy, and don’t use excuses about why their experience was less than ideal – keep in mind that you are a consumer too, and ruminate on how you would want a company to respond to your concerns.
Don’t be selective about the reviews you respond to – giving celebratory pats on the back of a rave customer review and ignoring the complaints showcases that you’re selective about which customer experiences matter to you. Activate your customers, and be feedback and complaint friendly.
The 99th Social Media Breakfast was jammed backed with great content, personal flair (via the talented Aaron Weiche), and choice bacon and bagels. Check out the #smbmsp99, @spyder_trap & @snapping_twerdel Twitter accounts for more snippets of the event.