Your business’ digital reputation can impact its revenue. Consumers engage directly with a brand or business, and they look to reviews of businesses before making a purchase.
Data backs this up: 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and 74% say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
Taking control of your online reputation is a requirement, not optional.
Friendemic provides social media and online reputation engagement solutions to hundreds of clients across the globe. After working with brands, such as Fiat/Chrysler, BMW, and Toyota, Friendemic is on the cutting edge of reputation management solutions.
Follow these simple rules to take control of your digital reputation by encouraging customers to leave reviews and responding to them thoughtfully.
1. Ask Your Customers to Leave Reviews
A successful reputation management strategy involves asking customers to leave honest feedback. In fact, 70% of consumers will leave a review when asked, according to BrightLocal, a local search software company.
Since we live in a digital age, here are some tips on asking customers for reviews.
Ask Immediately: The best time to invite customers to write a review is immediately after a transaction because they’re excited about their purchase.
Create a Positive In-Store Experience: If you have a brick and mortar store, show your customers that you value their opinions with signs and posters.
For example, Ken Garff, an automotive group with locations throughout the US uses this tactic, posting some of the images below in the showroom instead of advertisements:
Messages like, “We hear you,” and “A good friend listens closely. A good business does too,” shows that customers’ thoughts and feelings are important to the business and creates an environment where customers feel comfortable sharing feedback.
Make Leaving Reviews Easy on a Mobile Device: Create an easy way for customers to leave reviews on the go through your mobile app.
For example, send a text message after a customer visits your store or website. Invite customers to share feedback through a survey or leave a review on Google, Yelp, or Facebook.
In fact, sending text message notifications for web surveys improves response time, increasing the number of respondents who engage with your business, according to a Pew Research poll.
Ask For Reviews In-Person: In a study, Harvard Business Review asked 45 participants to ask 450 strangers to complete a brief survey. Half of the participants asked over email and the other half asked face-to-face. They concluded that a face-to-face request was 34 times more successful than the email requests.
While asking in person might not work in the e-commerce world, if you have a brick and mortar location, you can generate reviews by asking for them consistently.
2. Respond to All Reviews (Especially Negative Ones)
Responding to all reviews shows existing and potential customers that your business values feedback and is always wants to improve.
Use negative reviews to improve the customer experience. Consider the feedback, address it positively with the customer, and determine how you can make an experience better.
Consider how a Chiropractic Clinic responded to a 1 star Facebook review:
The clinic was apologetic, “I’m sorry you had a bad experience.”
It did not offer excuses or engage in a flame war. Instead, the clinic was informative, clearly outlining how they attempted to work with and help the customer: “We tried to accommodate your situation by putting your account on hold to help you out and did not bill you for your second month until you were ready.”
To the potential future client reading the review, it’s clear that the clinic will do its best to deliver a positive experience.
Offering an excuse is rarely the right course of action, even if you think the customer is being unfair. Future customers are an important audience for reviews.
Imagine that you’re a future customer before responding to a review: practice being polite and informative instead of defensive.
3. Deliver an Amazing Customer Experience
The best businesses build their reputation around incredible customer experiences.
Think about your favorite restaurants and local shops. What makes their shopping experience better than other places? Is it the maitre’d that makes you feel like a VIP every time you walk in? Is it the smiling lady in the grocery checkout line?
Take a moment to think about these positive moments and how your business can replicate them.
Consider the following example from a Chinese restaurant, where multiple customers mention the owner by name in their reviews.
For e-commerce businesses, where a personal touch is difficult to deliver without in-person interactions, focus on exceeding your customer’s expectations.
Consider an online jewelry merchant’s reviews on Facebook:
The appearance and quality of the bracelets the customers mention made their experience with the jeweler positive.
If you are constantly seeking to provide the best customer experience, all feedback will be good feedback. You’ll probably make mistakes along the way, so not all feedback will be positive, but all of it will help you improve your customer experience.
Use reviews as opportunities to hear your customers’ voices and respond accordingly. If you want your customers to leave a glowing review, do everything in your power to give them a glowing experience.
Ask, Respond, Deliver to Boost Your Online Reputation
Today’s (and tomorrow’s) customers expect an engaged and customer-centric online experience with a brand or business. They want to what others customers thoughts after doing business with you. They want to know whether you responded to customers and how you approach both positive and negative feedback.
Customers find answers to these questions by reading online reviews before making a purchase. The question becomes, does your online presence (and your review profile in particular) help or hurt your bottom line?
Following the rules explained in this article will help you take control of your online reputation and generate more positive reviews.
About the Author
Steve Pearson is the CEO of Friendemic, and he loves helping clients' dealerships connect with past and future customers through social media. Prior to joining the Friendemic team, he worked at McKinsey & Company, Vector Capital, and Google. His professional passion is using technology to improve customer experience. His other passion is climbing: ask him about climbing Mt. Everest. Steve holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.