What is your consumer review strategy?
Consumers use online reviews to share their own experiences and to read about other people’s experiences with companies. It is important to stay on top of your review strategy, so you are aware of what your customers are saying and provide feedback to show you value your customers.
As the effects of “fake news” and social misinformation erode trust in traditional media, consumers are increasingly turning to each other to get the scoop on businesses and products. To share their experiences with one another, consumers share and read reviews on a variety of sites, including Google, Facebook, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare.
According to BrightLocal, from 2013 to 2014 the number of Google reviews grew by 80%; the following year it grew by 114%, and from 2015 to 2016 growth reached 278%. Such growth in consumer reviews highlights the need for companies to have a strategy on how to address them. Before tackling a review strategy, it is important to understand why customer reviews can’t be ignored and how reviews are affecting more than just the consumer who shared their experience.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT CUSTOMER REVIEWS
Online reviews shape how consumers share experiences and give feedback to companies in a way that spreads faster and reaches much farther than traditional word of mouth. As a result, the information shared within reviews has the power to influence the perception of a brand – Vendasta reports that 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 39% of customers read reviews on a regularly basis. And, because they are considered credible and reliable sources of information, online reviews (and related responses from the brand itself) factor heavily into the decision-making process of a potential customer. According to ReviewTrackers, 94% of customers said an online review had convinced them to avoid a business.
Current customers use reviews to interact with companies and share their experience with other consumers. They also want to be sure the brand takes notice of their feedback – increasingly, customers expect a response from the company, whether the review was positive or negative. According to Vendasta, 26% of consumers say it is important that a business responds to their review, and 53% of customers expect a business to respond to negative reviews within a week (ReviewTrackers). They don’t want to be ignored and expect a prompt response otherwise they may not continue to buy the company’s products or services.
Reviews also have an impact on search ranking: MOZ reported that online reviews are thought to make up 10% of how Google and other search engines determine rank, which means brands with low reviews and unresolved comments may suffer a loss in visibility. It’s also worth noting that Google’s sidebar now makes it easy to compare businesses – so, if your business does show up but other businesses have higher ratings, consumers can easily make comparisons on ratings and read reviews without having to leave Google’s search results page.
How to CREATE AN ONLINE REVIEW STRATEGY
Many businesses already have a social strategy for interacting with consumers that can be adapted to other channels. Consumers who write reviews are typically taking more time and putting more effort into their feedback than they would with a Facebook comment or Twitter reply, so it is vital brands do the same.
Step one: monitor review websites
The first step to building your strategy is making sure you dedicate time to monitor websites that have reviews. By tracking your reviews, you can get an idea of how much time to set aside for ongoing management, understand what kinds of comments people are leaving, and outline the types of responses you’ll need to prepare.
Step two: craft responses to reviews
Next, start crafting responses. When responding to reviews, take time to form a genuine response that is friendly yet professional and acknowledges information specific to each review. In both social and consumer reviews, the information is available to the public but you can still start a conversation directly with the consumer. Our rule of thumb? Acknowledge publicly and resolve privately. This allows you to show other reviewers that you value feedback without starting a long thread between the individual and you. Either directly message the consumer or have a customer service representative reach out to get more information and handle the situation.
Step three: use reviews as customer feedback
In all responses, thank your reviewers. They took time to give their feedback and whether it is negative or positive, this is valuable information that your business can use. Once you have responded, take that information and share it with relevant teams across your organization. If a review points out an issue, discuss it internally to see what actions can be taken to prevent that from happening again. If you have made updates based on a response, feel free to share with the reviewer so it shows their feedback was helpful and taken seriously. If a review calls out a positive experience, post on other channels or on your website to share your positive customer relationships.
Why Marketers Should Have A Review Strategy
Reviews are important because consumers genuinely trust them and increasingly incorporate them into their decision-making process. From a brand’s perspective, this means they impact customer retention and acquisition, brand image, and how you rank online. Building a strategy isn’t as difficult as many might think: by taking the time to monitor reviews and putting a process in place for how to approach responding to them, your review strategy will come together.
While businesses cannot change reviews, they are able to keep on top of them and use them to retain and gain customers by creating a positive brand experience. Even if you lose that one customer who wrote a negative review, how you handle that review has a tremendous impact on how potential customers will view the business. People want to see that the company followed up and did their due diligence to handle the situation, which ultimately says more about the brand than the original review.
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