Business Advice

How to take control of your digital presence

- July 31, 2017 4 MIN READ

Review sites have been proven to influence consumer behaviour. They encourage customers to make phone calls, and visit physical stores or websites. They also have benefits for marketers in terms of SEO and improving search rankings.

I always strongly encourage businesses to claim and complete profiles on business review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor and include photos, contact details and hours of operation. Research by TripAdvisor shows that restaurants that use their site and list their opening hours have 36% higher engagement than other restaurants.

But what do you do when you have an online presence on these sites and you get negative reviews? And what should you do when you get positive reviews? This article will answer these questions.

Check your business mentions
Most review sites will email you to let you know when a review has been published, however there are many more places on the web where customers will leave their feedback about your business and brand, and if you don’t know how to find these brand mentions, negative comments could spiral out of control and damage your company irreparably without you even being aware of it.

If you have any business social media accounts, e.g. Facebook, make sure you check out their analytics/insights section on a regular basis and see who has mentioned you. You can also subscribe to free email notifications from Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts every time a particular keyword (i.e. your company name, or product name) is mentioned online. There are also a multitude of paid platforms that offer similar services with more extensive coverage (including searching for results in multiple languages and automatically monitoring social media).

Aim to take negative conversations offline ASAP!

How to handle negative reviews
Most companies have one of two responses when faced when negative reviews: either ignore them or respond and get defensive. Unfortunately, neither approach is very helpful. All reviews – positive or negative – should be acknowledged. When other people see a company responding promptly and in a professional manner it shows a level of care and empathy that helps build trust and humanise your brand.

Sometimes unhappy customers will try to engage in an argument online. If faced with that situation, try and take the situation offline as soon as possible. You can do this by simply leaving a message that says “We’re very sorry about your experience. Please call us as we’d like to fix this for you as soon as possible.” Then leave your phone number and the name of a specific person in your company for them to contact.

If you have made a mistake, own up to it and offer some sort of reimbursement or incentive for the customer to visit your business again, e.g. a discount voucher, freebie or personalised card apologising for the error that gets delivered in the mail. A lot of unhappy customers can be placated very easily with a little honesty, thoughtfulness and compassion.

Even if a customer is being completely unreasonable and illogical with their online review, by responding calmly and politely, other customers will quickly see your patience and this help will help discredit the negative review in the eyes of the public.

How to handle positive reviews
You may have thousands of happy customers but how many of them take the time out of their day to actively recommend you online? Probably a relatively small percentage. So take the time to sincerely thank reviewers who leave positive comments. Also ask the reviewer if you can share their feedback on other platforms e.g. your website.

Don’t forget to let your staff know about the positive feedback. Sometimes the marketing team or management hear the positive comments but don’t think to pass it on to staff. Positive reviews can be a real morale booster for employees. The more encouraged they feel, the better the customer service they’ll provide and the more positive reviews you’ll likely get in the future. It’s a chain reaction!

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How to ask for reviews
Ask your customers for their feedback – simple! You can do this in a multitude of ways. You can include a call-to-action in email newsletters asking them to rate or review you (and linking to a site where they can do this). You can also tag users on Facebook or Twitter who respond positively to your posts, asking if they would be willing to leave a review. Many online stores automate an email that goes out to a customer say 10 days after their item has shipped asking for their review. You can even use text alerts asking for reviews.

Another strategy is to seek out social media influencers related to your industry and give them free product samples to try in exchange for their review. Influencers with thousands of followers can become powerful brand ambassadors if you offer a quality product they like.

Set boundaries
Although it is important to respond to all negative reviews, on social media in particular, you can encounter “trolls”. Trolls are people who actively spam company pages multiple times a day posting links to their own products, or leaving abusive or offensive comments. In these instances, you do have the power report their content to the social network as “spam” or block and ban them from your page. I do not suggest doing this to an unhappy customer but there is a big difference between an unhappy customer and someone that could chew up hours of your time each week responding to nonsense claims. In these instances, use your judgment and don’t be afraid to set firm but fair boundaries.

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