This article is contributed by Reputation Studio, a Salesforce partner.
If you own or manage a business, you already know the important role that positive online reviews play in winning and maintaining the hearts and minds of customers. According to a survey by Spiegel Research Center, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. And, 85% of buyers trust reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Amazon as much as personal recommendations.
More than ever, your reputation matters, and having a reputation management strategy is increasingly important. Today’s consumers are looking for brands they can trust, and they are conducting online research and reading reviews before deciding to make a purchase, sign up for a service, or walk through the doors of your business.
While we’d all love to have nothing but five-star reviews from all our customers, that’s just not realistic. However, there is plenty that businesses can do to increase the likelihood of more satisfied customers, more of those five-star reviews, and ultimately, more revenue.
No company wants to be on the receiving end of a bad review, but it happens. Don’t fear negative feedback. Instead, use it to your advantage to better understand how you can serve your customers better.
Negative feedback can alert you to a problem you were unaware of, and give you the chance to fix it. Maybe all of the complaints are resulting from one particular product, a shoe that no one seems to think is comfortable. Do you offer replacements? Discontinue the product? Or modify its design? You can choose your next action step once you understand what went wrong in the first place.
One of the biggest challenges in the digital marketplace is providing customers with a realistic idea of what the product is actually like. When shopping online, it's hard to visualize how, say, a sweater feels to the touch. And when expectations aren’t fulfilled, disappointment is inevitable and can result in lower ecommerce sales and/or decrease in store traffic.
While listening to your customers’ reviews provides insight into how you can improve, that will only get you halfway there. You must respond to reviews. This goes a long way in letting your customers know you are listening and that you value their feedback. Through your response, a customer who was a potential lost opportunity can become a brand ambassador. It’s important to remember that today’s customers are seeking more in their buying experiences: they want to build relationships with brands, not merely conduct transactions.
Managing online reviews effectively is a three-step process that should encompass aggregation, routing, and monitoring. Let’s examine each.
Aggregation: First and foremost, brands need a clear picture of their range of reviews. You need to know what your customers are saying. Is it positive? Negative? A mixed bag? What review channels (Amazon, Google, Facebook, and your own brand’s website) are they using to post their reviews? Each site is different, and it’s important to understand the rules of behavior for each review channel. Aggregating all your reviews, from all channels, gives you a more holistic view of your brand’s reputation, and opportunities for different engagement experiences depending on the channel.
Routing: Develop and implement internal processes to handle responses to your reviews. Who will respond to negative reviews? What tools are needed to effectively manage these opportunities? How do you respond to 1-star and 2-star reviews? Is that different from how you respond to 3-star reviews?
Your customer service and account teams must become omni-channel contact centers. Today’s customers and clients seek support through a variety of channels, including phone, email, chat, and in-person. they reach out digitally through social media and review sites.
Building trusted relationships with your customers should be your primary focus to succeed in today’s digital economy. This means responding quickly — within 24 hours if possible. It means addressing customers by name and signing off with yours as well. It means taking the conversation off-line when necessary. And when you do this, when you treat your customers like humans, a very human thing happens: they change their mind about you. A negative experience with your brand can become a positive one when they know you care. Today’s detractor becomes tomorrow’s raving fan.
Monitoring: Monitoring and measuring key customer service metrics motivates your team and creates accountability to respond. By tracking efficiency and setting clear goals, employees know what is expected of them and feel in control of their workflow. This, in turn, increases employee satisfaction and improves efficiency. Customer service is transformed from a “Cost Center” to a “Profit Center” as agents can focus on up-selling products and services.
While five-star reviews are always something to strive for, having a solid plan for reputation management and handling reviews is a way to strengthen your customer service and improve overall customer experiences. Learn more about online reputation management (ORM) tools like Reputation Studio to see how to consolidate customer reviews into a single dashboard, automate the routing of reviews to teams, post responses in real-time, apply AI to provide actionable insights, and track review sentiment and intent.