The power behind word-of-mouth marketing is undeniable, but in our digital world, awareness rarely gets generated by mouths anymore.
More frequently, consumers rely on their favorite social media channels and third-party review sites to discover new brands and businesses. With more consumers tapping these resources to perform due diligence and research prior to purchasing, this trend has given way to a new breed of informed consumer.
It’s become more important than ever to safeguard your business’s online reputation. Let’s take a look at some strategies for how you can do just that.
Unfortunately, too many business owners know the panic a critical or even negative review can provoke.
And with 88% of consumers reporting that they trust online reviews as much as those received from people they know, review anxiety is understandable. Especially given the long shelf life and the countless purchasing decisions they’ll continue to influence.
However, there are certain processes that you can put into place that will assist in your efforts to minimize these public complaints, while also fueling more of the five-star reviews you love.
No business is immune to negative reviews.
Often, they originate from a misunderstanding or situations beyond your control.
Be that as it may, it’s important to remember that the inconvenience and frustration felt by the customer is still very real and valid. It’s this same exasperation in search of an outlet that prompts consumers to turn to review sites to vent in the first place.
This explains why 87% of consumers agree that an appropriate response from management to a bad review improves their impression of the business. By giving them an outlet to air these complaints and making sure that they feel validated and heard, you can greatly reduce—if not eliminate—the amount of negative reviews your business receives.
By simply sending a follow-up message requesting feedback on their recent experience, you can essentially intercept these grievances before they can damage your online reputation.
Even better, turning this into a process lets your business keep identifying areas for improvement.
At the very least, you’ve made it clear that you are dedicated to ensuring the satisfaction of your customers.
These systematic feedback requests also pave the way for an ongoing relationship that can lead to more five-star reviews and repeat business.
When you receive particularly favorable praise, you can identify who your brand advocates are and continue the conversation.
Thank them for their feedback and ask their permission to use their quote as a testimonial on your website, social pages, or any other marketing material you create.
You can also ask them to share their experiences on Yelp, Google My Business, or other industry-specific review sites. Be sure to thank them—and consider sending a loyalty offer, free gift, or exclusive discount. Keep the conversation going to generate referrals and repeat business.
Remember to thank customers for leaving positive reviews and share these—with permission, of course—on your social pages and as testimonials on your website to further their reach.
Knowing that the time they spent writing a review feels good for your customers and compounds the positive affiliation your customers already have with your business, and improving brand loyalty in the long run.
It also shows other customers how much these mean to you and your business, and encourages them to also leave a rave review.
As always, you should address any negative feedback head-on.
Thank your customer for taking the time to provide it, and try to work with him or her to find a solution. Whether a discount, replacement of faulty items, or invite to a special event you’re hosting, try to show some good faith.
It’s never easy hearing criticism when it comes to your business, but whatever you do, make sure not to make the situation worse. Try your best to see things from their perspective and remain professional.
This will improve your chances of not only dodging a negative review, but also retaining a customer you would have otherwise lost.
Be sure to do the same with any existing negative reviews you have, but always take the conversation out of the public sphere.
Try messaging or reaching out to them, privately, to attempt to resolve the situation, and only post an official response when you can come to an agreement.
This shows off your commitment to customer service and satisfaction—and how seriously you take feedback.
Reserve this process only for major issues or especially scathing reviews, though. If you address every minor complaint or sentiment expressed in an otherwise positive post, you might be seen as too nit-picky or defensive.
Safeguarding your business’s online reputation can be stressful, but good reviews can go a long way to bringing you loyal customers.
Getting into a habit of sending feedback requests to customers lets you better keep your finger on the pulse of your business—while also minimizing damaging public detractors, identifying advocates and areas for improvement, and showing off your customer service skills.
In the end, you’ll be able to improve your reach and keep refining your business!