Online Reviews and What They Mean for Businesses

Online Reviews and What They Mean for Businesses

Online customer reviews are increasingly a determining factor in whether or not a consumer will patronize a business.  In fact, according to a Huffington Post article, 49 percent of consumers state they are more likely to visit a business after reading a positive review, and 69 percent trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. According to a Harvard study, a business can lose or gain 5-9% of its sales volume for every single star rating dropped or increased. Some businesses have reported a drop of 20% of sales due to negative reviews. In other words, online reviews, such as those on Yelp, Google Places, Citysearch and many others, can make or break a business.

As a business owner, there are several things you can do to help you review, manage and respond to online customer reviews.

It all starts with knowing exactly what consumers are saying about you in their online reviews. Here are a few basic reputation monitoring tips:

  • Search for the name of your company on Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Many business owners recommend monitoring reviews daily but at least weekly.
  • Be sure to log out of Google before you search so that you avoid any “Personalized” results.
  • Seat up search engine alerts so that you’ll know the minute a new review or listing is posted.
  • Check your profiles on consumer review sites, such as Yelp, on a regular basis.

In addition, to monitoring review sites, you can take steps to proactively improve your online reviews. Improving your search content is largely a matter or generating positive, brand-enhancing content.

  • Encourage pleased customers to post reviews to an online review site, preferably one where you’ve received the most negative reviews.
  • Sign up for Facebook and Twitter accounts and post as often as you can. Even something as simple as a company bio or product description can be useful in keeping those pages fresh and keep you ranking well in Google.

However, the most critical aspect of managing online reviews is to accept that negative reviews are sometime a part of running a local business.  Since this is the case, it is critical for business owners to develop a strategy to effectively manage negative reviews when they occur.  The timeliness and the tone of the response are equally important. Here are three essential tactics for handling negative online reviews:

  1. Demonstrate strong empathy for the customer
    Tell the customer that you, as the spokesperson or owner of the business, understand that they are unsatisfied. Even if you don’t agree with what they are claiming, try to avoid a debate. Try to address their needs.  Create a meaningful personal dialogue so you have a grasp on exactly what caused their dissatisfaction, and then take steps to make amends to the customer.
  2.  Refund the customer or give them a discount on future services
    Amends can take the form of refunding the customer’s money or giving them a discount on future services.  It may also be as simple as fixing the issue they are complaining about. Once you have resolved the customer’s issue, encourage the customer to return to the review site and write a second more positive review.
  3. Learn from the good and the bad reviews
    Reviews act as a ‘real-time’ focus group that can provide key insights into the health of your business.  Take advantage of the feedback and encourage all customers to provide feedback on your business.  Use negative reviews as an opportunity to proactively fix any concerns or dissatisfaction.If negative comments continue to focus on a particular area, then it may be a good indication that your employees require training to assist in the behavioral change or that your operating procedures should be enhanced.  This continuous improvement approach can positively differentiate your business from the competition.

TEAM Marketing Group can teach you a proven process for handling negative customer reviews and for creating a continuous improvement process.

Contact us today at 303-220-8326.