Do you remember your last online purchase? Was it a new laptop, a kitchen appliance, or a pair of awesome athletic shoes for an after work workout?
Well, whatever that was, chances are that you’ve spent at least some time checking the experience of other customers with that particular product. The most obvious and the easiest way to do that is to read online reviews, so it’s quite possible that you browsed through some.
If you did that, then you’re a part of a large body of online shoppers who use product and business reviews before deciding whether to buy. In fact, eMarketer found that the vast majority of customers today reads product reviews before making a purchase in all age groups.
Evidently, online reviews are extremely popular right now, and businesses should pay close attention to them if they want to build a positive online presence and make testimonials of previous clients help with getting new ones.
Besides, it’s something businesses have to do because 57 percent of customers say they prefer to avoid a business if it has an overall review of fewer than 4 stars.
So, it makes a perfect sense to use online reviews to do some PR work for you. Here’s how.
Step 1: Know Your Goals
Any guide on online reputation management will tell you that there are several critical goals in this process:
- Encouragement to leave positive reviews. This doesn’t mean incentivizing, but an honest and friendly request to leave a good review if a person likes the experience/product/service
- Repair of reputation damage. This involves activities that seek to eliminate negative reviews by changing the mind of customers who left them
- Improvement of the current reputation. This is done by providing excellent service, encouraging positive reviews, and responding to customers when needed
- Protection of reputation. This encompasses reputation monitoring activities, analysis of negative reviews, and elimination of fake reviews that affect the company’s image online.
Let’s now describe the activities I’ve mentioned in this section in more detail.
Step 2: Collect Reviews from Happy Customers
Since you have to get a lot of positive reviews, you need to encourage your customers to leave them. For example, you can ask them to do so in a thank-you email that you send after they’ve made a purchase and provide links to your business’s profiles on reviews sites.
Review collection should be an ongoing strategy to ensure a lot of fresh reviews because 85 percent of consumers think that reviews older than 3 months aren’t relevant, claims Search Engine Journal.
Remember: if you don’t ask them to write a review first, they will likely go to a public review site like Yelp and express themselves. Better strike while the iron is hot and the possibility of a good review is high.
One more thing: don’t promise any incentives for good reviews because it can undermine your reputation and create an image of a business that buys reviews.
Step #3: Remove any Barriers to Making Reviews
Not so many customers leave good reviews unless they’re asked, so you need to make it easy and simple for them to submit them. For example, you can:
- Send out an email asking to provide feedback on your business’s online profiles. You can do it immediately after a purchase has been made or within a week after purchase
- Create profiles on public review sites so you can be aware of their reviews and manage them. This way, you’ll know about a negative review immediately, and do damage control as soon as possible
- Use other means of contacting customers to ask them to leave you a review, but don’t be too pushy.
Remember: Search Engine Journal claims that 89 percent of consumers said they would consider writing a review when a business asks them, so this is something you have to do to get their testimonials.
Step #4: Respond to Negative Reviews in a Professional Way
The way a business responds to negative reviews is an important indicator of professionalism. That makes a perfect sense because if a business ignores negative reviews, chances are that they disregard the opinion of their customers and don’t want to improve.
Besides, the 2018 ReviewTrackers Online Reviews Survey found that more than 63 percent of customers say that a business has never responded to their review, which, of course, didn’t do well to make a good impression.
By responding, you can actually prevent a lot of customers from walking away; the same survey found that 45 percent of consumers were okay with visiting a business that responds to negative reviews.
This means replying to negative reviews a must for your business. Here are some of the most common rules on doing that properly:
- Be polite. Being professional and considerate is critical to avoid damaging your online reputation further.
- Never get personal. When you’re fighting back, it means that you’re not capable of taking criticism, and this is something that can bring down your business very quickly. Besides, it goes without saying that a business that attacks the customers isn’t worth a visit.
- Try to solve the problem. Try to get in touch with the customer and see if you can do something about their experience. They’ll appreciate that and maybe even change their review.
- Thank them. Negative reviews are a source of valuable business improvement information, so thank them for providing it.
- Apologize. If your business is to blame for the customer’s experience, be sure to apologize.
Tools for Writing Responses to Customer Reviews
Since you’ve got so many guidelines to follow when writing replies to negative customer reviews, it makes a perfect sense to get some professional assistance with making sure that your responses are objective, error-free, and professional. Here are some online tools for that.
- Hemingway Editor. This is a popular online editor that delivers a style check to help you with writing in a certain style and tone
- Assignmenthelper. Human proofreading and editing of texts that you can use to eliminate grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes, check word choice, and other errors that can make you look unprofessional.
- A-Writer. Get professional templates for your replies to customer reviews to ensure well thought-out and professional responses.
- Grammarly. Another popular online tool for checking texts for a wide range of errors that can be your safety net against the most common writing mistakes.
- College Paper. Get personalized coaching on communicating with customers via email and comments to improve your responses to negative reviews.
Step #5: Use Online Reviews for PR
Finally, it’s time to share your reviews with potential customers and demonstrate that your business is worth a visit. You can place the reviews on your site, emails, and other promotional materials and let them shine. Besides, the reviews left by customers on your social media pages and other websites will also do work by attracting more customers.
One More Thing
Now that you know how to prepare for collecting the benefits of having positive reviews, keep in mind that reputation management is an ongoing process. Only fresh and positive reviews will do the job, so do your best to make sure that every customer you serve is happy.
About the Author
Lucy Benton is a marketing specialist, business consultant and helps people to turn their dreams into the profitable business and currently works at Proessaywriting. Now she is writing for marketing and business resources. Also Lucy has her own blog Essay Reviewer where you can check her last publications.