Managing Online Reviews

online-reviewNo matter what kind of business you own, customer reviews often decide whether someone tries you for the first time or goes to a competitor. This is especially true for local brands like restaurants – prospects want to know they’ll have a good experience, and they trust other patrons to give them the scoop.

The First Step to Word-of-Mouth Success: Getting Reviews

If you have no reviews, you’re in a tough spot: Customers might drop in because you’re new, but they’re unlikely to choose you over brands they have a good relationship with. Luckily, there are steps that can net those all-important first reviews:

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Set Up Profiles on Review Sites

Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and the “Local” page of prominent search engines all allow you to set up your own account. This is vital in case you need to respond to reviews later, and it makes you look engaged and active.

Request Reviews from Customers

Just because you don’t have reviews doesn’t mean you don’t have customers. Make the connection by training staff to ask for reviews from happy customers in a positive way. If customers reach out with praise, direct them to review sites.

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Make it Easy to Leave Reviews

People are more likely to share negative experiences than positive ones. Make it easy for your satisfied customers to make a difference: Put review links in your email, newsletters, and more. You can even consider printing a review link on receipts.

Dealing With Bad Reviews

The only thing worse than no reviews is bad ones! Of course, you shouldn’t take these personally – even the best businesses have an unhappy customer now and then. If you handle them in a gracious and tactful way, you can turn a bad review into a positive experience.

Respond as Soon as Possible

Responding quickly shows you care about your image and are willing to take customer feedback seriously. Of course, look into the issue on your side and come equipped with the facts.

Be Polite & Professional

Online criticism is often worded harshly, and it can be hard not to take this personally. Be aware that others are watching; a courteous response will help make a good impression on them.

Take the Matter Offline

Some sites allow you to respond to reviews directly by email. This can be a good decision when an issue is sensitive or needs prompt action – users might not check review sites frequently.

Reviews are vital, but always take the fundamentals of good customer service into account. Even a complainer can become a loyal brand advocate when you show your willingness to handle reviews maturely and take action.

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