How to Address Online Reviews

There’s no denying we live in a technological age where information is readily available from just about anywhere.  Long gone are the days where word of mouth recommendations were the most “social” way a business could potentially gain new customers.  Today, the influx of peer review websites demand businesses take notice of their online presence.  At McCauley Marketing Services, we diligently monitor the online reputation of our clients to not only get an idea of what is being stated about their business or product, but also to further strengthen their brand.  A common concern we hear from our clients are, “how do I address online reviews?”  Simply put, with three easy steps.

online-reviewsMonitor.  This is probably one of the most important things you should do in regards to staying abreast of your online reputation.  In order to know what people are thinking/saying, you must find where they are sharing their thoughts about you and your business.  Routinely search for your company by covering all major search engines result pages (think Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.), but don’t just limit your search to the first few pages.  Some review sites are niche-specific and may not appear on the first three pages of results.  Just because there isn’t an aggregate star rating next to the URL doesn’t mean the site doesn’t allow peer review.  Any website that has an online listing for your business should be recorded in a word document or excel spreadsheet and checked periodically to see if any new activity appears.  Even if you set up alerts to notify you when a new review appears, it’s always best to rely on your own investigation to ensure recent activity doesn’t get missed.   

Respond.  So you’ve seen the main scope of your online reputation.  Now what?  Simply put, it’s time to take charge.  You should claim any business listing to ensure that you can maintain accurate business information, and also so you can personally address any reviews that are left.  Regardless if it is a negative or positive review, potential customers will see that you are actively taking notice to what is being said and actually engaging with customers.  It’s important to remember that customers will appreciate genuine responses rather than contrived, robotic ones that are the same for every reviewer.  Be sure to personalize the responses to show you are paying attention to the customer’s needs.  The tricky part with peer review sites, social media networks included, is that you can’t always tell who is leaving you a review.  Even if you think a review is false, it is best to address the review in a professional manner.  Acknowledge the issue presented and offer some sort of resolution, such as inviting the reviewer to accept an open line of communication to further discuss the matter in private.  This then puts the ball back in the customer’s court and shows readers that you took action. 

Encourage.  An even better way to combat negative feedback is with positive feedback!  When you have customers who are happy with your service, encourage them to leave you a review.  Offering incentives to happy customers for taking the time out of their busy schedule to review your company can also be helpful.  Another valuable investment towards maintaining your reputation management is to create a flyer or postcard-sized form detailing how customers can help.  Printed instructions are tangible reminders to take action and can also help those less-tech savvy customers through the review process in the comfort of their own home.

If you have a few discouraging reviews, remember that having a mix of positive and negative reviews isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Bad reviews can show customers that you’re indeed human.  Mistakes happen, however, taking ownership can go a long way.  If you’re interested in learning more about maintaining your online reputation, contact us today and learn the latest in marketing trends and tools. Be sure to connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.