The dos and don’ts of managing online reviews about your brand

Adam Clark has a few pointers on what to do – and what not to do – about online reviews to manage and maximise your online reputation.

Adam Clark 2Thanks to a plethora of online review sites, forums and comparison websites, online reputation management has gone beyond a marketing function and is fast becoming a core corporate focus.

That’s because online reviews drive purchasing decisions –nearly 70% of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchase.

The problem companies face is knowing how to effectively track and respond to online reviews across myriad sites.

Here are a few dos and don’ts you can put into practice to ensure your business has a better grasp on what’s really being said about its services and can influence these views in a positive way.

Don’t…

 

Use fake reviews

This is a big no-no. For starters, various sites and regulatory bodies are clamping down on the practice of fake reviews, but mostly it’s just bad business. A company that respects its customers and is transparent about its products and operations will ultimately be the most trusted.

If it comes to a customer’s attention that you’re manipulating what they read, it will hurt your business far more than a few negative comments. Make feedback your friend by learning how to manage it.

 

Enter into a war of words

The worst thing a business can do is to let a review site become a forum for arguing the toss. If you feel a customer has been unfair or is obviously very unhappy, don’t start to defend everything about your business there and then. Your response should be short, friendly and practical.

If possible, try to resolve their complaint by directing the customer to another channel (email, phone, etc.) where you can discuss the matter one-on- one. If you handle it well, they may even bother to leave a good review!

 

Be alarmed by a negative review

Review sites might seem daunting but they could in fact prove transformative to your business. This year Arnott’s experienced massive consumer backlash after changing its Pizza Shapes product range.

Product review sites and social media were awash with complaints, and a petition was even lodged to make the company change it back. Arnott’s listened, admitted it was a mistake, and are now selling both varieties in stores. Not only have the complaints dissipated, Arnott’s is also maximising the sales opportunity.

Typically, customers have a short memory – they’ll remember their most recent experience best. So don’t be scared of negativity. If you can respond to feedback in a positive way and use it to improve your product and business, you can quickly reverse the sentiment.

 

Do…

 

Establish protocols for managing online reviews

Policies directing staff on how to respond and conduct themselves on social media are commonplace across business these days. But online reviews sites seemed to have crept up on us, and many companies still track customer reviews in an ad-hoc way.

It’s therefore wise to develop a document that outlines processes such as who is responsible for monitoring review sites, which sites are most relevant, guideline responses to FAQs in keeping with your brand ‘voice’, and an escalation plan of who to inform when particular problems arise.

Whether it’s an entire customer service team or a small marketing unit, this will make the process far easier and provide peace of mind that whoever is checking review sites is aware of their responsibilities.

 

Invest in the right technology

Sites like Hootsuite have made it easier for companies to manage multiple social media channels at once, and now changes are in motion to help businesses integrate online review sites into the broader customer service mix. Zendesk just launched a new integration to its customer service software that enables static reviews, comments and messages to become dynamic customer service conversations that can be managed and responded to from one place.

Businesses on Amazon, eBay, and Trustpilot are already using it. For example, when someone writes a review on Trustpilot – a leading online review community that publishes 500,000 reviews each month – a customer service ticket is automatically created in Zendesk so agents can then respond directly to the ticket. Investing in the right software will not only simplify how you manage online reviews, but improve your entire customer experience.

 

Be quick to respond

Unlike a phone line or chat room, the problem with online reviews is that they tend to sit there for days – even weeks – before a business sees them. The beauty of the above technology is that it’s real-time, alerting your customer service team to feedback and enabling you to troubleshoot negative comments on review sites within moments.

Technology is your friend in preventing bad advertisements from lingering.

 

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Adam Clark is regional vice president of sales at Zendesk Australia and New Zealand.

Image copyright: luismolinero / 123RF Stock Photo