Review Management Best Practices

Why your business needs to stop removing reviews.

1) People can tell your business is filtering the reviews.

68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores (Econsultancy, 2012). Customers are more review savvy and can spot when things look too good to be true. 95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores (Reevoo, 2015).

2) It looks fishy, like your business has something to hide.

30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews (Webrepublic). Only 8% of consumers expect a business to have a 5-star rating before they will consider using them (Brightlocal, 2016). If there are only five star reviews on a review site, customers know that your business is grooming your reviews and assume it’s because your have something to hide.

3) Reviews that are removed will only anger customers trying to share their experience.

If your business doesn’t allow or encourage reviews, your customers that have something to say, good or bad, will find it odd that they can’t leave a review for your business. Customers can still leave reviews for unverified listings and profiles so just because your business can’t see the bad reviews, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

4) It looks like your business doesn’t value customers enough to win them back.

If your business doesn’t allow for feedback, it appears to customers that you don’t really care about them or value customer service. If customers can’t expect good service, don’t expect them to want to visit your business. Customers like to see businesses that are open to feedback and especially the businesses that are listening enough to try to win customers back.

5) It doesn’t give yours business an opportunity to win back their trust.

If a review isn’t published, it can be very infuriating to customers. If your business did fail the customer, it gives you a chance to win them back. Since your business is responding to the reviewer publicly, your business can possibly win them back as well as show other customers that you care about how you treat your customers. Customers like that.

6) Businesses are missing out on valuable feedback to improve.

While customers at times can be unrealistic with their expectations from a business, some can provide feedback on possible oversights. Oversights happen to the best of us and there is always room for improvement.


Situations when it is okay to gate reviews

Here are the situations when it is acceptable for your business to filter out which reviews are published:

1) When the review contains graphic material or inappropriate language.

If the review is inappropriate, contains explicit language or graphic material. Fortunately, many review sites are all over this, but if they happen to miss it, you can flag it as inappropriate.

2) When reviews are irrelevant to your business.

If a review doesn’t provide any mention or context to your business, products or services. Sometimes customers leave reviews but they really want to ask a question. If it really doesn’t add context as a review from a customer, it is okay to suppress that review.

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3) When reviews are spammy or someone is plugging another business.

If a review isn’t related to your business but is obviously spam, or if a person starts talking about their business instead of you business. In the example below, the review was for a direct competitor and was a case of mistaken identity.

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4) When the review is a fake or planted by a competitor (and your business knows it is).

In the case of review fraud, it is completely acceptable to suppress the review and remove it. In the example below, the person hasn’t ever been to the establishment, they just left a review that they read other reviews.

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Unfortunately, reviews have been used as blackmail and this sort of unscrupulous behavior does occur. The fact that this behavior is on the rise speaks to the importance of practising review management and using reputation management software. If you want help determining if a review is a fake or not, try the free Review Skeptic tool backed by research from Cornell University.

Again, Please Don’t Review-Stuff

The review below is an example of a business owner promoting his own business. There’s a lot of specific detail that even the most committed reviewer wouldn’t delve into. On top of that, the review is so long many people will probably just skim over.

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How can your business practice white-hat review management?

Here’s how your business can practice white-hat review management:

  1. Provide exceptional customer experiences
  2. Ask your customer to leave a review (in store signs, surveys, etc)
  3. Read and analyze the review. Does it meet the criterion to suppress or remove?
    1. If yes, remove and you are done managing the review
    2. If no, the review stays published
  4. Respond to the review
    1. If the review is positive, thank them for their feedback
    2. If the review is negative, try to move the conversation offline. Try to remedy the situation to win the customer back. If you have remedied the situation, try asking them to adjust their review. If not, then at least the customer may come back.

White hat review management visual guide

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Why it’s best to take the review management high-road

At the end of the day, people can tell that if your business is grooming your reviews if all of your reviews are too positive. From a consumer’s perspective, it is better to see a business with a mix of reviews, mostly positive but with some negatives as well. So long as a business is trying to remedy the situation by responding to the customer and following the proper review management protocols, it actually says more about the business than a business with all perfect five star reviews.

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What is Online Reputation Management?

A business’s reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had via word of mouth. Now, consumers are pushing out a company’s reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online through review sites, social media, forums and other channels. Basically, if it is an online source and a consumer can say something about a business on it, then it is a channel where your business’s reputation should be managed.


Digital marketing and online reputation management for businesses

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works alongside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these segments of digital marketing to maintain your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many businesses are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.


Online reputation management: your business has options

Your business’s reputation can be affected at anytime on just about any source across the web. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to cut down on your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your business tracks and constantly checks on social media, there may be sources that your business is unaware of such as a new review site from a listing that your business never knew that existed.

Your business should weigh the pros and cons of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are definite best practices when responding to reviews that your business should be aware of. Maintaining your business’s online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most worthwhile services you can invest in.


Why your business’s online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would appear as if no one ever visited the business.

Ready or not, consumers are talking about your business

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, consumers are talking about their favorite and not-so-favorite businesses. If a business simply ignores their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative responses can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a business may not realize how exactly one instance can affect their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative post on a highly ranked site can actually be what shows up near the top of a search results page when a consumer searches for that business’s name.

Consumers Control the Conversation and Everyone’s Feedback Matters
Social media is a two-way conversation — businesses can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, consumers and everyone having an equal voice in a shared space. Customers can rave about a business or let everyone know they had a terrible experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way businesses communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands and vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, businesses have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a manner that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What people see online matters. Approximately 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations—this is a huge shift in thinking that has become more prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews translates to dollars, as customers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see revenues increase anywhere from five to nine per cent.

As discussed previously, many businesses find that cultivating their digital profile on their own is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your business does, it is essential that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your business can do is appear unresponsive.


What makes a good online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having bad reviews on that site. Building a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both consumers and search engines. Some of the most important aspects of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing information (name, address, phone)
  • overall sentiment in reviews
  • frequency or current velocity of new reviews
  • overall volume of reviews
  • social activity and engagement (especially with reviewers)

Customers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \\reviews to be a mirror of the actual customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business’s online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.


Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% leading to sales. If businesses have a good web presence, customers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they’re in the store, 79% of customer use their smartphonesinside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them end up making a purchase. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is essential for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

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How to Respond to Negative Reviews

Believe it or not, the same premise applies to negative review response as it does to positive reviews. How you respond to a negative review impacts not only the reviewer, but all the sets of eyes that come afterward. Seeing a business handle a particularly challenging review online suggests that management is proud of their business, and willing to go the extra mile to maintain their reputation!

Make potential clients see the light with these four steps: apologize, promote, get offline, keep it simple.


How to respond to negative reviews

  1. Apologize and sympathize

    The first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that one occurred. Regardless of what happened, a simple apology and sympathy for your customer’s experience goes a long way.

  2. Promote

    So the famous crab cakes weren’t up to par the day this particular customer visited. If they’re what you are known for, why not reiterate that? “Our crab cakes are usually a hit, we’re sorry to hear that they weren’t up to par when you visited!”

  3. Move the conversation offline

    Don’t open a can of worms. Keep the lid on tight by offering the reviewer the chance to reach out via phone, email or both.

  4. Keep it simple

    Avoid specifics and don’t ask questions. Those conversations are much better served in a space away from the prying public.

One last pro tip: leave your business name, location and category out of this. You don’t want your negative reviews showing up in search!


Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? You can use software to pull in your reviews from all over the web so you can respond quickly. And if you don’t have time, seek out our Digital Agency services to do it for you. Not only do we guarantee expertise, we guarantee it in a hurry: we respond to reviews as soon as our software pulls them in!

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How to Respond to Positive Reviews

A good or bad reputation can mean the difference between a business thriving and expanding, or closing their doors for good. In the digital age, a business’s reputation is controlled by consumers using online review platforms like Yelp, Google and Facebook to announce the quality of their business publicly. The good news is that this lets businesses easily monitor and manage their online reputation, a power they can put to good use by responding in a timely manner to the reviews they receive.

While negative reviews often get this most attention, positive reviews are as or more important! It’s important to respond to positive reviews to thank customers for taking the time to review your business and to encourage others to do the same.

With 92% of consumers reading reviews online, businesses can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. An effective response will help ensure that a happy first time customer becomes a regular, and 70% of complaining customers will come back if you resolve the complaint in their favor. The first step is engaging with them.


How to respond to positive reviews

It’s simple. Thank the customer, name drop, promote and tell the customer what to do!

  1. Say thank you and be specific

    No one would let a compliment pass them by in real life. Apply that same principle to a review response! And make sure to reiterate your customer’s compliment. This let’s the customer know that a real person took time out of their day to acknowledge them, and that feels good.

  2. Use the business name and keywords

    Don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive your business up in search results—positive reviews work wonders in search. Referring to your business name, location and category (restaurant, coffee shop, hotel, etc.) helps index that review online.

  3. Market, market, market

    Is your business famous for a certain secret sauce? Are you having a promotion next month? A review response is a great place to get the good word out.

  4. Give your customer a task

    Not as scary as it sounds. Invite them to try something different the next time they visit, or bring a friend!


As you can see, there’s a ton of potential hidden in a positive review response. Instead of one advertisement to rule them all, each review is an opportunity to sell your business!

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Tips for Providing The Perfect Customer Experience

Amazing customer service may seem like a lot of extra work on a short-term basis, but it does improve your brand image and goodwill, which means a lot in the long run. No matter how big or small your business is, you must focus on making your customers happy. There are many ways to do this—with the strength of your product, with free incentives that you can offer or with amazing customer service experiences.

With all the competition out there, succeeding with your business nowadays is a matter of wills. Are you willing to provide the best possible value? Are you willing to offer your customers the perfect customer experience? If you are, then it’s time to get started at improving the customer service experience your company provides. Here are a few important tips to help your company provide your customers the perfect customer service experience.


1. Know your products and services inside and out

No matter the business or industry you’re in, knowing your offerings (products or services) inside and out is absolutely necessary. Customer service is, after all, all about helping your customers succeed with your products or services. Therefore, your customer service should focus on offering the proper suggestions, tips and solutions to ensure that success. Each and every employee (not just customer service) should know the ins and outs of what you’re selling. Helping your employees succeed by providing the proper training (regardless of their job description) is the first step in helping your customers succeed.

2. Be more accessible

If you want your customer service department to strive for success, here’s what you should know—customer service must be readily accessible to all of your customers. One easy way of accomplishing this is setting up more communication channels in which customer can connect with a customer service member when they have a question or issue. The minimum that you can do is to provide a phone number, an e-mail address and a mailing address. If your business can afford it, and really need it, develop an online support desk that can be instantly reached 24/7. This communication channel is usually required when the company reaches a big number of requests and website visitors.

3. Speed up your response times

Customers love quick answers. According to a recent report performed by Frost, 41% of customers suggest that their biggest frustration regarding customer service is when they’re put on hold. They want to be respected, and your company must give your best to solve everyone’s issues quickly.

4. Focus on the customer, not on the sale

Customer service is all about the customer’s feelings and experience. You must focus on their well-being and you must avoid thinking about combining customer service with sales or other aspects of your business. If you want to leverage your customer service system in order to make more sales, I’m sorry to disappoint you: it’s not that effective! The selling side of your business is totally different and you should focus on it separately. Continually work at ways that you can improve the customer experience to keep your customers satisfied and coming back for more.

5. Clear communication

Keep communication simple and ask straightforward questions when communicating with your customers. The truth is that we all communicate differently, so be prepared for communicating with your customers in different ways to ensure that they will understand whatever information you are trying to relay to them. If corresponding by email or online, grammar and spelling must be perfect or your credibility as a professional company will slowly vanish.

6. Over-deliver whenever possible

Over-delivering can help create loyal customers. On average, loyal customers can be worth 10x more than their first purchase. If someone gets treated right, they’ll often come back. They’ll perceive your company as a trustworthy authority or provider; therefore, over delivering from time to time helps your company’s reputation to grow positively. Find a way to reward your customers with a customer service issue for being patient. It could be anything. Nothing costly or hard to obtain. Ideally, this small attention should also deliver some value.

7. Find and fix your mistakes

Mistakes are a part of any business, after all we are all human. Nevertheless, do your best to make things right with your customers. When we’re talking about mistakes, we’re talking about a customer that hasn’t been treated right. Your business can make it right by offering them solutions, returns or future guarantees. Pay attention: if you’re not fixing your mistakes in time, your company’s reputation will suffer. People will start talking, reviewing, and sooner than later you’ll realize that your sales are dropping.

8. Test, fail, test again and ultimately optimize

Before reaching success in a customer service program, every business goes through a trial-and-error process. The marketplace and the customers within any industry tend to become more complicated as an industry ages or becomes more fragmented. If you try out a new product, service, or customer service initiative, don’t be afraid to fail. Know that “failure” isn’t failure, it is merely feedback—it lets you know what not to do so you can start focusing on things that might work. After you find something that works, begin the scaling process. Optimize everything until you find the balance that you’re looking for.

Conclusion

Businesses are always looking for new ways to make a name for themselves and an excellent customer service experience is one of those ways in which a business can afford to get a great reputation in. Competition is almost always growing in any industry and new strategies and actions must be implemented to keep up with the constant flux. Providing the perfect customer experience is just one way for your business to stand out from the crowd, win customers over and keep them coming back. It’s never too early or to late to create a customer service program that turns your customers into repeat customers, or ambassadors of your brand.

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