In the digital age there’s nothing more terrifying than a bad online review. How quickly should you react? Should you respond or delete it? Fight back or admit defeat and apologise?
Apart from personal recommendations, consumers trust online reviews more than almost any other form of brand information. The CIPR claims that at least 42 % of people have written an online review and Nielson’s Global Trust in Advertising report, states that consumer trust in online reviews has grown by 15% over the last four years to a whopping 70% – that’s more than news articles and other forms of editorial.
Despite this most businesses are still ignoring online reviews (just like so many still ignore social media) and let them happen without any form of proactive response or even monitoring – that is until there’s a crisis! Hospitality, restaurants and online retailers are the most clued-up industry because they recognise that their livelihoods depend on it. Other businesses, public services and charities can all benefit or suffer from reviews but simply don’t delegate the responsibility for growing and managing customer reviews to anyone. That’s why in many cases it falls to a company’s PR or social media team – and that’s not a bad thing! PR is perfectly placed to lead the way in dealing with online reviews and put a monitoring, response and crisis management plan in place – how to handle negative comments and how to promote the positive ones!
- Encourage reviews – ask open ended questions on social media, run contests which incentivise customers to write a review or have links to your company profile on reviews sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp on your website.
- Use these profiles – think of these as mini websites and fill them with photos, product/ service information, your location opening hours and contact details so that your appear professional and with nothing to hide!
- Ask your regulars for a favour – frequent customers are most likely to post positive reviews so ask them personally the next time they come in.
- Re-post the positive – get some mileage out of your positive reviews by sharing them on your website, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to add some authenticity and create free PR.
- Respond to negative reviews – they won’t go away if you ignore them so respond in a timely and professional manner, and try to take the conversation offline if you can. Apologise sincerely, tell the customer what you’re doing to rectify the problem, and then try to leave things on a positive note and up-sell your business. For example, perhaps that you hope to see them again soon to try your new summer menu.
Apart from that, it’s all about keeping on top of reviews and assigning someone to monitor them. Tools like Google Alerts or CyberAlert might prove useful to keep an eye on the internet even when you can’t.