In today’s digital landscape, reviews are the new word-of-mouth marketing. There’s many avenues for consumers to proclaim their intense love or hatred for your business, depending on their experiences. Consumers tell stories of their experience along with a star rating on major platforms like Yelp! and Facebook and other users can use these reviews to evaluate options within their area. By delivering great customer service and quality products/services, businesses can grow their reputation exponentially and attract a ton of new customers based on online reviews.
However, if a business provides poor service or a low quality product/service, it’s easier than ever for unhappy consumers to share their negative experiences, which can deter new customers from patronizing your business. Yikes.
Today, let’s discuss how to best manage your online reputation and encourage your customers to become brand loyalists.
Embrace the Review System
Whether or not you’re a fan of online reviews, the reality is that it’s how consumers make decisions now. A recent study stated that 88% of buying decisions are influenced by online reviews on a company's customer service. In other words, it's time to embrace review sites like Yelp!, Google, and Facebook by paying close attention to the types of feedback that customers are posting about your business online.
Acknowledging customer concerns and appraisals shows that you care a lot about the customer experience, and are committed to providing quality goods/services.
To address matters in a timely fashion, make sure to briefly check sites that you know list your business to make sure you can address new reviews when their concerns are relevant. For example, if you have a product listed on Amazon, a Facebook page, a Yelp!, and Google listing, checking those sites every few days for new reviews allows you to be very agile in your customer service endeavors, and create a reputation for being timely and caring about customer engagement. It’s a small price to pay for their increased loyalty and repeat business; after all, it takes a lot more capital to gain a new customer than it does to keep a current one.
It’s not enough to just stay up to date on your online reviews, you should also be aware of what your customers are saying. Paying attention to things your company is doing especially well or particularly poorly means really useful market research that can be used to further improve your product or operations.
Respond Publicly, Resolve Privately
Responding to customer complaints/poor reviews publicly and inviting them to resolve their problems with you privately is a standard PR tactic. The idea is that you show that you address problems, and then get personal and specific with the individual so that he/she doesn’t feel like your company is publicly shaming them (Especially if they’re mistaken). This gives you the opportunity to delight a previously unsatisfied customer and turn them into a brand advocate. To do this effectively, you must be genuinely apologetic for their negative experience and surprise them by offering them something of real value to them. Just an apology won’t cut it to impress these critics.
Encourage Honest Feedback
Some business will encourage users to leave a positive review in order to receive an added benefit. While there’s no laws against this, it’s definitely disingenuous and could hurt your online reputation much more in the long run and it is probably against the Terms of Service of most review sites. You can optimize your process of asking customers to leave you positive reviews, but it prevents you from actually learning much about how your company is actually performing.
Instead, encourage honest reviews. Your customers will appreciate your willingness to improve and listen to their concerns and allows you to gain valuable feedback that allows you to improve.
Most importantly, improve! If all your reviews are positive, recognize what you’re doing so well and focus on making that aspect of your customer’s experience that much more pronounced. For example, if everyone is raving about your burgers on your dinner menu, make available all day and list it at the top of your menu. By that same logic, if you identify an area where a lot of people are dissatisfied (i.e bathroom cleanliness), implement processes that ensure that customers become delighted by that area in the future (Make the bathrooms extra clean). In addition to this, address customers with those complaints and explain what you’re doing to improve their future experiences.
Example: ‘Sorry to hear that you had that experience Tom, we’re currently in the process of remodeling our bathrooms. We hope that your next experience at Jill’s Burgers is much better!’
Then privately message Tom, ‘Thank you very much for your honest feedback of your experience. As a show of our commitment to your satisfaction, here’s a 15% off coupon for your next purchase *Be sure to check out our new bathrooms as well!’
Online reviews are a great way to show social proof to potential customers, research areas of your company to improve, and turn critics into brand advocates. Listening to what your customers are saying and keeping your interactions genuine and timely are your keys to success.
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Want to improve your customer’s online experience? Contact us.