Review and Reputation Management: How Do Reviews Directly Impact Your Bottom Line
Once upon a time, customers would report negative experiences by writing a letter to the company leadership, calling the better business bureau and spreading the news to all of their friends. The process could be long and communication slow. And whether or not the company actually addressed your concerns would not be known publically, until now.
Fast forward to 2018 and everyone has a walking review platform in their pocket. Every experience can be recorded, edited, modified and shared with ease to all who will listen. And if you think about who is really motivated to share a review, chances are it is someone who has felt slighted in some way. A quick glance at Glassdoor and you will find millions of ex-employees who now have a platform to share their displeasure with their former company’s management.
While most businesses can see how a negative review would be harmful, they don’t fully grasp the impact it has on their bottom line. In addition, they are unaware of the potential to improve their review score and manage their reputation with a little effort and elbow grease.
How to Improve Your Review Score
If you are suffering from a star-rating that is below a 3.5 or worse – have no reviews at all – you will want to get proactive in your review approach.
What if I have bad reviews?
Let’s face it. Bad reviews will happen. Someone will be angry at you someday and will choose to take it out online. It is fast, it is easy and it is harmful. How you handle the bad review will make all of the difference. Here are some simple steps to responding to an upset customer:
- Acknowledge the reviewer’s frustrations and sympathize
- Apologize, even if in your eyes there was no wrong-doing
- Offer an explanation that addresses the reviewers complaint, if there is an explanation that is appropriate
- Give the reviewer ways to follow-up with you offline
Sometimes it is difficult to restrain yourself from reacting to a bad review with your own choice words. Feeding into a negative reviewer will only instigate things further and damage your reputation. Instead, apologize and end the engagement with an offer to chat via telephone. And because you will not be able to remove the review, the next best thing to do is to focus on new reviews that will minimize and bury the effects of the bad one.
What if I have no reviews?
Businesses with no reviews often want to stay that way, and I can see why. If you have no reviews, you don’t have any negative reviews. Also, you have one less thing to manage. The problem with no reviews is that is it really risky. What happens when that one disgruntled person leaves a scathing review on your site and all of a sudden your online reputation is in the gutter?
In addition, businesses with no reviews are often looked over for those with reviews. Consider this example:
If you are searching for a “Lawyers near me” and come across the search below, who would you choose to represent you?
- Notice the Rating drop-down is not highlighted
William Mattar Law Offices and Stacey O’Neill Balduf, Esq stand out, but William Mattar seems like the best choice with their first place listing and extensive 5-star reviews.
What does that mean for the other businesses listed here? It means they will likely be looked over, not because of their ability to produce great results, but because they have not optimized the power of reviews.
The Impact of Reviews on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engines have one goal – to answer a customer’s query with the most relevant information possible to help achieve the customer’s goal. Because a search will have thousands of results, search engines have developed complicated algorithms to prioritize information and determine the searchers intent. In order to do this, they rely on third-party sites to provide data such as reviews. If you have ever Googled your own business you would see many sites that come up alongside your business site and they are usually presented in order of their popularity or engagement.
Let’s use the lawyer example again, except this time I am going to search for “Best Lawyers Near Me”.
The results are now sorted by the distance from me and then reviews. If you notice the star rating is automatically set to filter based on 4+ star ratings.
All of a sudden, Abitol, Sherry & Salinick do not even appear in my search and they have been replaced with a firm with better ratings. Google has recently reduced how many results show up in it’s map pack, making it harder for companies relying on organic search to compete. In order to make the top spot, you would need a holisitc approach to SEO and that includes reviews.
Do People Trust Online Reviews?
Overwhelmingly yes. People have become savvy shoppers and are able to pick out reviews that are genuine and weigh those against those that look like a little spammy or overly critical. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they would trust a recommendation from friends or family. And because 90% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase and 93% do not scroll past the front-page of their search engine, you can see how powerful reviews are in achieving SEO and growing your business.
Gone are the days when only restaurants and hospitality businesses needed reviews. Every business that is operating today should have a steady stream of reviews coming in on a consistent basis in order to provide social proof to a consumer who has a wealth of information to decipher before making purchasing decisions.
The most important factors to pay attention to according to Review Trackers:
1. Google is the review site of choice. 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business — more than any other review site.
2. Consumers expect brands to respond to reviews—and are disappointed. 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. But 63 percent say that a business has never responded to their review.
3. Negative reviews drive away customers. 94 percent say an online review has convinced them to avoid a business.
4. Customers don’t really trust businesses with lower than 4-star ratings. 80 percent of consumers say the star ratings they trust the most are 4.0, 4.5, and 5 stars.
How Do I Manage My Reviews and Online Reputation?
Now that you understand the importance of building good quality reviews, I bet you are wondering how to go about it. Well, the good news is that the first step is admitting that you need to put more effort into your reputation management.
Here are a few ways to boost your reviews:
- Ask your customers to leave a review while they are still in your presence.
- Ask customers via email after the sale is completed
- Offer something in exchange for the review such as a coupon for their next purchase.
- Be sure that your customers are satisfied with their experience with your business before they leave your establishment or finalize a transaction.
- Check all of the review sites that pertain to your industry and rotate the sites that you encourage reviews on to optimize all of your opportunities.
Being proactive in your review process keeps the process in your control. As long as you are consistently asking for reviews, the occasional bad review will not do too much damage. It is when you ignore reviews and do not address customer concerns that things can spiral out of control and ultimately hinder the success of your business.
At Charm Digital Media, we offer a managed solution to your review and reputation management needs. We take on the task of acquiring the reviews and even troubleshooting potential negative reviews before they are posted. Our streamlined process means all you have to do is tell us which customers to contact and the rest will be managed by our team. If this sounds amazing to you, that is because it is! Shoot us a message to learn more!