Reputation Management – Monitoring Customer Reviews

With every week full-on in your business, if you get any days off, chances are they’re not really days of leisure. There’s always something that needs to be done to keep your business to the standard you want, even if it’s just getting the paperwork up to date. I have another task to add to that list unfortunately. Well, it would only be unfortunate if you left it out!

You’ll want to keep an eye on these regularly. And while it’s not right there in front of you like maintenance, staffing issues or bill payments, it’s there for the buying public to see. Managing your business profile on customer review sites is something business owners just can’t afford to overlook.

For all industries, these sites can be somewhat hidden to us unless we go looking for them. While you’re not checking in to see what’s written about you, tens, if not hundreds of people are seeing it and for the most part, are forming their opinions on whether to try your business (or not) based on the published words of others.

As most of us know, customer reviews can make or break our business, particularly if we don’t deal with them well online. When good stuff is floating about, all is A-OK. When it’s not, it’s easy to go in panic mode.  If a negative or downright nasty review or comment is made, it’s not good for business and you need to act….carefully.

Be Prepared

The best thing we can do is be prepared.  If you haven’t had a negative review yet, get ready because it’s highly likely that it will happen at some time.  Even the most praised and recognised businesses have been on the receiving end of some well written, highly scaithing commentary.

If a negative review comes your way you can do one of three things – ignore it, deal with it politely or respond by telling them they don’t know what they’re talking about it. The latter tends to happen a lot, to the detriment of the business. Unless you want to kill your business, avoid it at all costs.

Look as any negative reviews as an opportunity. Seriously. With a little effort on your part it can be turned around from a negative to a positive or at least, neutral.  Engage with that customer, show the review-reading world you’re tapped into what’s happening from your end and that you’re dealing with it! We know in customer service-oriented businesses that we can’t always please everyone despite our best efforts. We know that some people who will complain about everything and that’s never going to change but every complaint should be dealt with in the same way.

Six Steps to Remedy Online Customer Dissatisfaction

  1. Reply swiftly with a ‘Thank You’ for alerting you to an issue and make it clear you will investigate.
  2. Ask for more details of their experience and direct this to be done via email, privately.
  3. Investigate with management and staff.
  4. If you deem the issue reasonable and fixable, provide a means to ‘make it up’ to the customer with an invitation to return with a discount or fully paid-for ‘replacement’ experience.
  5. Ensure the customer’s next experience is exactly as you would like it to be. Check in with them to ensure they’re delighted!
  6. Invite them to post again to the review site of the original complaint.
  7. Revisit the review and the outcome in staff meetings to collaboratively devise a solution for the issue/s discovered.

If you’re 100% confident that the problem raised is not a real issue or is not something you feel needs this type of ‘makegood’, ensure your customer knows you have noted their concerns and thank them for making you aware. This, at the very least, is essential.

In my business I received a negative or neutral review only very occasionally but rather than be upset by it, I used it as an opportunity for improvement and ultimately, making a bad situation better.  Yes, I knew that sometimes there would be instances where there wasn’t anything I could do, but to anyone reading any negative reviews in amongst the positive ones, it was far more advantageous to have replied positively than having left it unanswered.

So what did all of this responding and following up do for me in the end? It made people accountable for what they published online about my business. It meant some posts were removed by the reviewer themselves and had positive reviews replacing the negatives as a result.

Monitor your Online Reputation

The best way to deal to keep an eye on your business’ online reputation is to tap into the all of the review sites your business is listed in, at least once a week.  Some will have more responses than others but they all need to be checked on to protect your business.

Once you’re regularly checking in on the review sites, you can work towards boosting your customer review profile by inviting your customers to share their great experiences with you, online.

Get your review site logins, be honest about who you are (identify that you are the owner or authorised representative of the business) and draft your reply.  Keep it calm, be respectful and always respond as though you’re on television with microphones from every tv and radio station in the world on you, because that’s just what it’s like, you’re responding in the most public of arenas.

Positive Reinforcement

Naturally, affirm all the positive reviews you receive too. Thank people for taking the time to share their positive experience with other readers and reviewers and ensure they know you are looking forward to seeing them again soon. Even better, take down their name and offer them a gift or just a simple, personal ‘thank you’ upon their return. It’s another way to show your gratitude and build an even stronger relationship with your customers.

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