Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation
Why are Reviews Important?
Online ratings and reviews have become powerful tools. According to Global Newswire, 95% of consumers read online reviews before purchasing a product, and 58% of shoppers are willing to pay more for products with good reviews. In general, shoppers will look for three out of four positive reviews to validate a purchase.
What’s more, 49% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. In younger audiences, that trust grows even stronger: a whopping 91% of consumers aged 18 to 34 reportedly value online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Given their influence, it’s important to dedicate efforts to encouraging reviews. Here’s what you need to know about inspiring great reviews, managing the negative and disabling reviews altogether.
Seven Tips for Building a Great Online Reputation with Ratings, Reviews and Social Listening
1. Use the Right Review Platform
Know your target audience when choosing the right review platform. For example, organizations in a customer service-based industry may thrive on platforms like Yelp or TripAdvisor, whereas those who market business-to-business products may find that their audiences are more active on Clutch or LinkedIn. Google Reviews, however, are essential across the board and can be handled directly once your organization has claimed your Google Business profile.
2. Encourage Genuine Consumer Reviews
Authenticity is key when it comes to reviews. Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences. Make the process seamless by providing links to review platforms on your website, in emails, or even on physical receipts. The simpler, the better — understand that your customers are busy and keep the review process easy and brief.
It’s important to never incentivize or manipulate reviews, as this can deteriorate consumer trust and violates some review platforms’ terms of service. For example, Google and Facebook both have review policies that explicitly prohibit incentives in exchange for positive reviews.
3. Leverage Social Listening
Social listening can be your secret weapon in monitoring what people are saying about your brand across various social media platforms. It can be helpful to get a pulse on consumer perception of your brand by tracking mentions, sentiment and trending topics related to your business. By being aware of conversations, you can address customer issues proactively and engage with your audience in real time. Start by tracking branded hashtags or mentions of your brand name. You can do this manually or using third-party analytic tools.
4. Respond to Reviews, Including the Bad Ones
Engaging with your reviewers is essential. Respond promptly and graciously to positive reviews, expressing gratitude for their feedback to make it clear that you value your customers and their opinions.
If you receive a negative review, avoid being defensive. Instead, acknowledge the concern, apologize if necessary, and offer a resolution publicly. By doing so, you will display your commitment to excellent customer service — even if it does not appease the consumer. Your responses will be meaningful to other potential consumers who see you are actively engaging with your audience.
5. Turn Negative Feedback into a New Opportunity
Embrace negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your products or services. Analyze recurring complaints and identify areas for enhancement. Be transparent with your audience about the steps you’re taking to address the issues raised. By doing so, you demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement.
6. Monitor and Flag Spam Reviews
Occasionally, you may receive reviews that are clearly spam. These might contain unrelated, inappropriate or offensive speech. These should be reported to the appropriate platform and note that the content is not related or a genuine review of your organization.
Some of these spam reviews could appear to be a real review but are written by someone you know was not a real consumer. Even worse, you may receive a review from a person who leaves a negative review because of an unrelated motive — for example, a consumer who was refused a refund based on policy.
In these instances, it is much harder to get the review removed by the platform it was left on. Report it and follow up with their customer support, but it may be beneficial to address the spam review publicly so users who are researching your organization see that you have handled it.
7. Consider Disabling Reviews
There are situations where disabling reviews might be a viable option. For example, if your business operates in a highly regulated industry or deals with sensitive information, reviews could pose risks. It’s also possible that you are receiving excessive spam reviews that lower your rating, or perhaps you don’t have the resources to manage negative or spam reviews.
Though Google, Yelp and Clutch do not permit business profiles to turn off spam reviews, other platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to disable reviews or hide them from your page so they will not deter other consumers.
Remember that disabling reviews can signal a lack of transparency, potentially reducing your credibility and leading to customer skepticism. However, your organization may be more successful promoting customer testimonials in a setting where you can control the narrative, such as on social media.
Harnessing the power of online reviews is crucial for any business. By inspiring great reviews, managing negative feedback gracefully, and staying vigilant with social listening, you can build a strong online reputation that attracts loyal customers and fuels organizational growth. Implement these strategies to take charge of your brand’s narrative and cultivate a positive perception in the minds of your target audience.
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