The internet has become one of our most powerful marketing tools.
We know that potential customers searching for your product or service online will generally only look at the first page of search results. So most of us have become SEO smart, ensuring our business shows up on page 1.
But here’s the thing. Many organisations are not too smart when it comes to managing their online reputation. You may have a marketing department that expertly creates regular social media posts and keeps your visibility high on Google, but when a review is received; positive or negative, do they know how to manage it? Or is it ignored?
If you received a customer complaint by telephone or in person, would you do everything you could to manage and resolve the issue to your customer’s satisfaction?
Or would you ignore your valuable customer, causing them to feel unappreciated and unacknowledged, reinforcing their resentment? Of course you wouldn’t!
But this is what’s happening every day online!
Google your business or organisation and have a look at your reviews. How many responses can you see? Has your business consistently responded to each one, or only the positive?
Now have a look at your social media pages. Can you see many of the comments or posts by others responded to? Is it even possible for a customer to post on your page? Sadly, this option is often disabled as businesses are afraid of negative publicity, preferring to control what their visitors see.
Here’s the thing with online reviews. Unlike direct feedback to your business, reviews are transparent. Everybody can see them.
Your reviews will show up online to the whole world for eternity, acting either as a mark of your excellent service…or your wall of shame. Your online reviews are the equivalent of every single one of the feedback emails you have ever received, wallpapered all over the front window of your business.
In the words of Warren Buffett, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it’. A good reputation helps build customer trust. And customers do business with organisations they trust. We’ve seen the downfall of reputations this year with online hacking. So it’s vital to your reputation that you know how to effectively manage your online reviews.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” Warren Buffett
Here are my 7 top tips in managing your online reviews in 2023.
1. Say thankyou.
Genuinely thank your customer for their feedback; positive or negative. Negative comments can provide valuable feedback and point out issues in your organization, that you can fix. And you’re showing that you encourage feedback to ensure your product or service, and customer service, is of a high standard.
2. Understand the motive
If you have received a negative review, know that that customer may actually care enough to want to do business with you again. We all know that internet trolls exist who will just randomly attack a business, but most feedback is a genuine attempt to inform the business of their perceived shortcomings.
3. Validate the viewpoint
Show genuine concern by validating their viewpoint. Believe it or not, that was their experience. They could be wrong, but you can’t make someone’s experience wrong so always make them feel right for feeling the way they do.
4. Don’t be defensive:
You could fuel the fire with a response that appears to be making excuses, defending your employee’s actions or justifying. Aggrieved customers don’t want to hear excuses, they just want to feel listened to.
5. Personalise your response
Be thoughtful in your response and ensure it addresses the feedback. Too often I see the standard responses given to every review, as if there was no thought put into it. This speaks volumes about their standard of service.
6. Offer your name
To make your response more personalised and help you to connect with your customer, add your name and company role to the response, rather than just ‘General Manager’.
7. Win their loyalty
Show you care by doing everything you can to solve a customer’s issue. You will win not only their loyalty, but that of everyone else who views your response. People understand that things do sometimes go wrong, but the most important thing is how you manage a complaint. Many times I have chosen to do business with a company based on their response to reviews. A well-thought-out response reassures your potential customers that you listen to your customers and that you appreciate and respect them.
In summary, do it right and you will reap the rewards. Remember, your customers are always your best advocates and if you can manage your online reviews to your advantage, you will increase customer loyalty and boost your reputation.