The internet has opened up so many avenues of communication between businesses and customers - one of the most crucial and sometimes one-sided, is online reviews.
If yours is a B2C business you will be particularly accustomed to receiving and having to deal with online reviews.
Having said that, even B2B organisations are open to reviews, in the form of employee reviews! Mostly large organisations will have started to see reviews appearing from employees about how current and ex-employees viewed their employment on websites such as, Glassdoor.
Either way, you need to have a plan for dealing with online reviews, which can be found on many websites across the UK, some of which are really popular, some are industry-specific and others are wide-open for all to see and use. Examples include:
- Social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc.
- Industry-relevant online forums
- Your own website!
In the past we’ve recommended how organisations, particularly in the hospitality and leisure sectors, can deal with negative feedback and reviews, which you can find out out about here (Source: Thrive Marketing Limited).
However, the best way to manage online feedback and your company’s digital reputation is to have a plan to follow whenever a review appears.
Your 6-point guide for dealing with online reviews
1. Research your brand's digital reputation - coordinate social listening
Find out where people are talking about your company and how they're sharing their insights - are they chatting publicly on LinkedIn, leaving comments on your Facebook page or going to specific review websites?
Social listening allows you to keep track of what is being said abut your organisation, which is imperative if you're going to respond to such feedback.
Find out more about social listening in our recent blog post.
2. Decide who will deal with online reviews and when
Who is responsible for monitoring brand mentions, known review websites and social platforms where people are talking about your business?
Delegate the task to someone who is a good writer and, most importantly, able to be impartial. Sometimes it's best coming from a Director, other times it's best to give the task to someone lower down who won't take the feedback so personally.
Although social listening is something someone in your organisation should have as a day-to-day task, make sure you check for reviews first and last thing in the working day. it should only take ten minutes once you've discovered the review channels you can be found on.
Decide how immediately you will respond - never leave it more than three working days. If it's a negative review, don't rush and provide an emotive response. Leave it a day if the review is particularly challenging to respond to.
3. Design template responses and 'next steps'
For the most part, you can probably predict the kinds of review you will get so make things easy - set up blanket responses for positive and negative comments regarding:
- Staff members
- Company in general
By doing this you can then personalise the template to match what has been said. This will speed up your response time and actually allow you to create a consistent, uniform style of writing.
Also consider if you're willing to offer freebies, discounts or refunds, and judge which situations these actions may be necessary.
4. Review your company's whole customer service strategy
It's ideal to review your approach to customer service before there are comments, but if a regular theme seems to be your customer service, staff or communications in any way, you urgently need to review your company's approach to customer service.
- Do you have a strategy for delivering quality customer service?
- Do all of your customer-facing staff know about this strategy?
- Do they understand why it is important?
5. Share the wins, but don't ignore the losses
It's important to communicate with reviewers in a balanced manner, focusing on their key points and you either acknowledge them or will act upon them.
Of course, it's important to acknowledge when you're doing a good job and sometimes that's worth shouting about - share a great review on social media, you earned it!
Don't ignore the negative reviews though, they are there to improve your business and should be used as the basis of an action plan to improve particular areas of your business - delivery times, customer service, packaging presentation etc.
Be polite, balanced and leave your emotions at the door. Think carefully about a time you've had a bad experience with a company. What could they have done - or what did they do - to rectify it for you?
6. Deviate from the strategy
Sorry, to ruin the strategy by asking you to leave it. This is more advice to remember that you can't predict everything and sometimes it's best to 'react' to a given situation:
If you decided not to give discounts, freebies etc., but you've had a reviewer leave fair, balanced comments and you recognise the need to resolve their upset/disappointment, leave a private message or call them with a peace offering. It will be wholeheartedly appreciated... or it won't be, but you can hold your head high that you tried to put it right.
If you've received a suspicious review that looks like it's from a competitor or someone with a 'personal grudge', rise about it and be polite, professional and end the conversation before it starts. Never play out spats in front of current and potential customers.
If you've got a problematic reviewer who is dragging you into a 'tit for tat' debate, politely but firmly end the conversation and offer to have the conversation over the phone or in person - don't keep biting.
Finally, as a general rule, our #1 advice regarding negative feedback is always:
"If it risks damaging trust and/or reputation - take the conversation offline as soon as possible. Never, ever ignore criticism, it will often only manifest."
Find more like this via Marketing Strategy.