No matter how well your business is doing or how many loyal customers you have, it’s nearly impossible to avoid receiving negative feedback about your business online. Nearly every shopper these days has a Yelp, Google, Twitter, or Facebook account—all platforms on which negative feedback can hurt your business in ways you might never recover from. Trolls, angry customers, or burned employees can easily post negative feedback on any of these platforms. So how do you combat negative feedback and protect your business? With an online reputation management strategy.
A reputation management strategy for social media includes your protocol for responding to reviews, how you interact with customers online, how to encourage reviews on your accounts, and more. A whopping 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews, while many small business owners aren’t even aware of what is being said about their business online. You might be tempted to run right to your Yelp page and respond to nasty reviews, but think carefully first. Dealing with negative reviews, comments, or general trolling requires a delicate balance.
At SBC, we work with clients every day to ensure their brands’ reputations remain at four stars and above. These are a few of the factors we keep in mind when creating a reputation management plan—and you should, too.
Reputation management begins by monitoring your business’ social media pages and review sites. Popular review sites include Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and industry-specific sites such as Houzz for interior design or ZocDoc for healthcare. You can’t hide from bad reviews by avoiding them. Make a list of the websites on which your business is commonly reviewed and monitor them on a consistent basis. Speed is your friend, so it’s best to have a dedicated employee or digital agency to monitor these platforms for you on a daily basis.
Monitoring reviews isn’t enough, either. One of the most important factors in your reputation management strategy is how you respond to reviews and comments, both positive and negative. You never want to make excuses, blame the customer, or respond with a negative attitude. Let’s take a look at an example.
How to and NOT to Respond to a Negative Review
Review by Ed.: My burger was atrocious. It was dry, I was given regular fries instead of sweet potato fries, and it took over half an hour just to get my order. Never going here again, would not recommend!
Good: Hi Ed., I am sorry that you had a less than memorable experience with us. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ve had a talk with my staff about what happened with your order. I hope you come back soon to give us another chance!
Bad: Thanks for the input, I’m sure McDonald’s wouldn’t mind your business since you wouldn’t know a good burger if it slapped you in the face.
The bad is obviously bad. You should never blame a customer or disrespect them. But what is it that makes the good response good? First, the business owner acknowledges the person by name in order to personalize the review. They also acknowledge the customer’s valid complaints and ask them to come back again to form a second opinion. This simple, personable review can be enough for some reviewers to come back to your establishment and update their review at a later time.
This example review also highlights the importance of monitoring the details of online reviews. As a business owner, it’s impossible for you to be on the floor of your business or with every salesperson at every moment. Reviews can offer insight into how your employees interact with customers when you’re not present. They also let you know what customers truly care about. In order to effectively implement positive changes in your business, collect data on the details mentioned in all of the reviews of your business online. For each review, tally the negatives the reviewer mentions. Categories can include service, specific team members, wait times, and more.
This is a task your reputation monitor or agency should take on and develop monthly or quarterly reports on. Once you receive these reports, however, it’s up to you to act on them. You can use reputation management to your advantage by implementing the changes to improve the factors that are pushing customers to leave bad reviews.
Reviews are an important part of reputation management, but not all negative or positive reviews come in the form of formal reviews. Keep a watchful eye on Twitter, Facebook comments, Instagram mentions and comments, and other social platforms. When you receive a positive comment, respond in your brand’s tone and voice thanking them. If a negative comment arises, address it in a similar fashion to responding to a review. Let them know that you value their opinion and want to gain their business and trust back.
Your marketing team or agency can improve reviews in another way—by encouraging positive reviews and user engagement. Encourage interaction from customers when posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t be afraid to ask for Yelp or Google reviews when someone leaves a positive comment on your page. Let’s look at an example on how to ask for a review!
How to Ask for a Review
Comment by Emily.: Omg I loved your bacon truffle burger! Will def be back #foodie
Response: Thanks, Emily! Spread the love and post a photo and review of our truffle burger on Yelp, and we hope to see you again soon!
Positive comments and reviews can also be gained by running promotions, contests, and more. Let Studio Brand Collective’s all-star social media team draft an online reputation management strategy, so you can run your business and we can deal with the trolls.