Here’s a question for you: do online customer reviews really matter?
The answer, though some may argue to the contrary, is that they certainly do. Like it or not, online reviews can make or break a business. Research by Harvard Professor Michael Luca found that positive reviews on Yelp can help to improve a local business’ bottom line by as much as 9%. What’s more a 2013 report by Dimensional Research found that of those customers who used online reviews to inform purchases, 90% said that positive reviews impacted on their buying decisions.
Managing the reputation of your business is very important in today’s online economy. A good review can bring in new customers, whilst unchecked negative reviews can sink the ship. As there are thousands of online conversations happening every day, there is a good chance you are being talked about somewhere. As a business owner it is in your best interest to listen, monitor, and participate in the discussion.
What about the bad reviews?
If one of your customers receives poor service and fails to get satisfaction after complaining, then the chances are that they will want to share their experiences with others. Some business owners might take exception to this and see this sort of action as simply bad-mouthing, but customers take a different view. Whilst there will always be some serial-complainers, you know the type – the type of customer who will go out of his or her way to be offended, most ‘wronged’ customers feel they are duty-bound to share their feelings with other potential customers.
How do business owners deal with negative comments? Well, they simply pay attention to what people are writing in their online reviews and manage them accordingly. The best way to do this is to manage reviews honestly and transparently. If you get lots of negative reviews, don’t panic: look at what you’re offering and address any issues that may be causing concern. If you get mainly positive reviews take comfort from the fact but don’t use that as an excuse to sit on your laurels. The higher your standards; the more your customers will demand.
3 tips for managing customer reviews:
Even though you may see your business as your ‘baby’ it’s important to remember that any criticism is not aimed at you personally but is targeted at the products and services you are offering. So it’s important not to take criticism to heart. By keeping your emotions in check, you will be able to deal with negative reviews appropriately. Never respond to criticism with criticism. Be polite and factual in your responses, and make sure you rectify any problems that may have arisen. If other potential customers see that you are taking action to put wrongs right, then this will have a positive impact on future business.
If you get a justified negative review, accept the criticism and take ownership of it. In the online world, transparency is a valuable commodity. If you’ve made mistakes, own up to them. Fix the problem and thank the reviewer for pointing out the fault. Accepting responsibility and taking positive action will go down well with future customers. It shows you are credible and will take care of issues should they arise in future.
Keep your eyes and your ears open.
As an online business it’s important that you monitor the web for mentions, be they good or bad. If you haven’t the time or resources to do this, then use tools to monitor social networks regularly. Tools like Google Alerts are able to do most of this work for you automatically. Google Alerts allows you to enter in terms to “listen for,” then sends you an alert via email any time a reference to that term pops up. You can set up your alerts to happen whenever a mention of your business name is found or as a daily alert.