How to successfully manage customer reviews

With more and more consumers researching the web to make their purchase decisions, the importance of reviews has become undeniable. Although you might feel like you have no control over what customers say about you online, there are things that you can do to encourage reviews and manage them in a way that benefits your online reputation. How you manage reviews can have a huge impact on your business’ overall success.

How to get more reviews?

Once you’ve registered your business on various review platforms, it’s time to  begin actually collecting comments. To help you get started, take a look at these tips to get more online reviews for your small business.

Tip #1: Ask them in person. When interacting with a customer you’ll be able to read whether or not you should ask them to leave you a review. If you’ve built a relationship with a customer or had a positive interaction with them, this would be a great time to ask.

Tip #2: Place reminders to leave a review around your physical location. This can be done through a Yelp sticker on your front window, signs on tables and bathrooms stalls, a message at the bottom of receipts, etc.

Tip #3: Provide exceptional customer service. At the end of the day, the best way to get a good review is to earn it! Most people don’t leave a review for an average or okay experience. You are much more likely to get positive feedback if the customer feels you’ve gone above and beyond for them.

Tip #4: Request a review from your email subscribers. Given that they’ve willingly subscribed to your email list, there is a strong possibility that they already love your business and, if asked, are more likely to leave a review. 

Tip #5: Share your excellent reviews. When others see that people are leaving you great reviews, they’ll be more inclined to do so themselves. This is an example of “Social Proof”; the concept that people will follow the actions of the masses.

Tip #6: Respond to every review. Replying to your reviews will show other  customers that you’re active in your online communications; increasing the likelihood of them leaving a review.

How to deal with reviews?

No matter what type of business you run, you should have some sort of review management strategy in place in order to get the most out of your customer reviews. To help you build your strategy, check out the following useful guidelines:

Schedule time to manage reviews regularly.

As a small business owner, you’re likely very busy. However, it’s important that you put aside some time in your schedule, to manage your customer reviews. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time if you’re organized. Responding to your customers promptly makes them feel valued and shows that you are an attentive business owner. Not to mention, responding quickly allows you to get ahead of negative comments that, left unanswered, could greatly damage your business’ reputation.

Frequency matters. You don’t want to take too long to respond to negative reviews. Putting the same block of time aside daily, or even every other day, to manage reviews is a great way to stay organized and ensure that you don’t forget to reply. However, if your schedule allows it, you can also set alerts on your review platforms that notify you when a customer leaves you a comment and answer them as they come in. No matter the strategy you choose, be attentive to your reviews as they might be a key factor in a customer’s decision to buy from you.

Make negative comments work for you.

This may not be possible 100% of the time, however in many cases your response can turn a negative perception into a positive one. In fact, in a study conducted on consumers, 33% of customers who got a response to their negative review changed their review into a positive one, and 34% deleted their original review altogether. When responding to negative reviews, there a few points you should always keep in mind:

  • Remain professional at all times. Getting defensive or arguing will not only get you nowhere with the customer you are addressing, but it could also turn off potential customers reading your response from trying your business.
  • Empathize with your customer. Being understanding and acknowledging their feelings will get you a long way, as customers are generally not looking for perfection, but a genuine and caring response.
  • Be a problem solver. Let them know that you are taking steps to resolve the issues brought up in their comment to ensure that it does not happen again.
  • If the situation calls for it, offer your customer some sort of compensation (discount, refund, free product, etc.) to make up for their poor experience. This is not required every time, but taking this extra step is almost always appreciated.
  • If the comment requires clarification or a more in-depth conversation with your customer, respond by thanking them for their comment and let them know you will be reaching out personally. You don’t want to go back and forth with customers publicly, but you do want to show others you’ve acknowledged the unhappy commenter and are working to resolve the issue.

Although you can’t expect all of your customers to modify their negative reviews after you respond, if thoughtfully put together, your response can give your business a sense of honesty and a human touch that people can relate to.

Always thank your customers for leaving a comment.

Positive or negative, let your customers know that you are thankful they took the time to give you feedback. On one hand, with negative comments you should appreciate the fact that your customer is giving you a chance to make it right, rather than ceasing to engage with you. At the very least, they are giving you something to improve on.

On the other hand, when customers leave you a raving review, make sure they know how much it means to you. After all, they are directly benefiting your online reputation.  Along with thanking them, referencing specific things they mentioned (for example, agreeing if they point out one of your awesome employees) is a great way to make your reply personal.

Learn from your reviews.

Although managing reviews is essential to maintaining a good reputation, you shouldn’t only be doing it to benefit your business’ image. Reviews provide you with valuable insights about your customers and business that you should take seriously. Having ongoing insight into reviews gives you an opportunity to identify flaws in your business or operations, can help you understand where to improve, or what customers are loving that you could highlight further through your marketing.

Similarly, you might also want to take a look at your competitors’ reviews. You can learn from what their customers are saying, on top of gaining valuable competitive insights.

Create a review response bank.

Play out different scenarios that occur and carefully plan out the ideal response based on the guidelines above. It might be helpful to look at customer reviews on other business’ pages for examples of comments that could come up. However, when actually responding, it is extremely important to adapt your response to each individual comment; ensuring your response still comes off as personalized and genuine. Your prepared responses should be used as outlines to work from and not automatic replies.

Having a response bank is useful for a multitude of reasons. It makes it easier to reply to your customers quickly, as you’ve already carefully thought out the bulk of your response. In addition, it ensures that you remain professional and on brand. It can be hard to take criticism, so being prepared can avoid you potentially responding emotionally on the spot.

By following these simple guidelines, you are well equipped to tackle customer reviews and build your online reputation. Managing your reviews doesn’t have to be hard; It simply requires a strategy and a little time. It’s well worth the investment.