Online reviews are the most common type of customer feedback in the modern digital era.
Unlike traditional customer feedback such as customer satisfaction forms and surveys that used to be strictly between a company and its clients; online reviews are posted online and can be seen by anybody and at any time.
Online reviews could be also posted in multiple channels, starting from your online store or e-commerce website, to marketplaces and all kinds of online review platforms such as Google, Amazon, Yelp, and so on.
There are many such platforms that allow customers to share their feelings, stories, and experiences in the form of online reviews which could be read by others to make informed decisions about your brand and products.
The point is, online reviews could seriously impact the buying decision of potential buyers as well as your business reputation in the long run. And this begs the question as to what concrete ways, or plans should you choose when dealing with them.
To answer that, I have listed 7 of the best practices that you could use to not only deal with online reviews in your favor but also to make the best out of them when looking at the bigger picture.
- Find the right person for the job
- Identify review sites and networks
- Encourage positive feedback by responding
- Be open to negative reviews
- Track and monitor your reviews
- Use online influencers
- Stay away from fake reviews
Finding the right person to tackle online reviews is as important as responding to them in the first place. The individual you choose must be customer-friendly, empathetic, and most of all a problem-solver who could review, reply, and solve issues that might pop up in online reviews on his/ her own.
The person responsible for this job must also have the authority to transfer or escalate the issue to senior levels when needed.
To be able to address online reviews, you must first identify all the places they might appear. And that includes all the platforms and sites where customers could be talking about your products and posting reviews.
Most of these sites would also allow you to be notified every time you get a new review or response from an old customer.
You could also use tools such as Google Alerts to track your product mentions across the internet. The point of getting the alert is to provide immediate solutions or responses to your customers.
The value of positive feedback is well known in the business world. Not only could they help you build and gain trust in the market but also higher search engine rankings for increased brand awareness.
Besides, by replying to positive reviews, you let the customers know that you care and appreciate hearing from them. In doing so, you could also encourage others to leave positive remarks for your business.
Apart from thanking and encouraging the customers, you could also use this opportunity to ask them if they’d like to try or sample a product in exchange for their honest feedback.
Customers love free sample products as it makes them feel special and exclusive.
As important as replying to positive feedback is, dealing with negative ones is even more crucial. Negative reviews could be devastating and have lasting effects as it can convince masses to refrain from your business. In fact, the majority of online shoppers i.e. 94% to be specific avoid doing business with companies that get negative reviews.
So what to do when you get a negative or harsh review?
Simple! Start with sympathy and acknowledge the issue at hand. Offer them the solution and take ownership that it will be resolved shortly.
Remember, you have all the means and tools to turn a negative review into a positive one.
As I mentioned before, there are many ways to track and address your reviews instantly.
Setting up alerts and reminders is the easiest way to keep a check on them which is something that most review sites allow for free (given that you have joined or registered with them).
You could also use a more sophisticated approach by installing a dedicated review management software or tool to bring all your reviews across one platform for easy access and correspondence.
Online influencers are everywhere and have been playing an integral role in shaping industries and trends. The reason obviously is the huge number of followers they have that listen to them.
Befriending such famous influencers from your niche or area of expertise so as to spread the word about your business will always be a profitable deal, even if you have to offer your product or service to them for free.
Fake online reviews are quite dangerous as it can compromise the overall credibility of your brand in the market.
Repetitive comments, partial or inconsistent information, third-party mentions are some of the major hints that can help you spot and separate fake reviews from honest ones.
You can further report these malicious reviewers and spammers to the platform’s admins so as to have them removed as soon as possible.
Remember, the more reviews you get the more popular your brand, given that they’re genuine and that you respond to them in time.