Everyone in the world of local marketing, whether you’re a marketer, franchisee or franchisor, understands the importance of reviews for your business. And we’ve got the stats to back that notion up.
According to “The Great Conversational Divide,” a research report that we conducted with Local Search Association (LSA), we found that 66 percent of consumers said they perform research every time or almost every time before buying a product or service. We also discovered that positive online reviews are the most important purchase consideration versus other types of information or sources in a consumer decision.
But, did you know the importance of responding to those reviews? According to the same research report, we found that nearly 80 percent of consumers expect a response to their comments and reviews.
So, the necessity to not only have reviews, but to respond to them properly is paramount for the success of your business. Here are tips for a successful local reputation response:
Our research revealed there is a huge gap between what businesses and consumers expect in relation to reviews.
20 percent of businesses stated they don’t respond at all to reviews, while 80 percent of consumers stated that they expected businesses to respond to reviews. The discrepancy here is huge.
When your business responds to a review, you’re letting the local community know that you’re listening, and their feedback matters to you. Plus, we found in our research study that 89 percent of consumers indicated a willingness to change a negative review, depending on the business’ response to their criticism.
So, always respond to every review. The response humanizes your brand, and builds trust with your customers, certain review sites and search engines, too. Google, for one, has confirmed that responding to reviews helps improve businesses’ local SEO.
Another cause for the discrepancy between brands and consumers when it comes to online reviews is response time. Through our research report, we discovered that 40 percent of businesses respond to reviews later than 24 hours…or, not at all. While more than three-quarters of consumers who leave critical reviews expect a business to respond, with 40 percent of those expecting a response no more than 24 hours after the review is posted.
We’ll get into how to respond in the next tip, but what you can take away from our data is to respond, and respond NOW. Deploying a review response strategy can help reduce your response times. This strategy can include assigning the responsibility of responding to reviews to various members of your team and utilizing software to track response times. This will help cut down on response time, so you can meet that ever essential 24-hour window.
With a reputation management tool, like SOCi, there are technological capabilities that empower you to track and respond to reviews across all sites in one, centralized dashboard. Through our platform, a corporate franchise marketer and/or individual locations can engage with customers across various social networks and review sites, in real-time. You can also assign and set time deadlines for review responses. Check out our website to learn more about SOCi’s platform features that help franchises manage and expedite the review response process.
If your business is just getting started, you can create a list of templated responses for your team to utilize for common feedback, questions, complaints or simple star ratings without any written context.
Once your business is more established with reputation management, you should encourage every responder to personalize their responses. Personalization can be as simple as reiterating the reviewer’s concerns. This will showcase that you, as a business, understand the root of their concern, and you’re willing to take the necessary steps to improve.
When you craft your replies, stay away from “cookie-cutter” responses. It reflects negatively upon your business if a consumer visits your review pages, and every response from your business is the same. If a customer takes the time to leave a review, it is always best practice to provide a personalized response.
After you’ve mastered adding a touch of personalization to every response, consider taking some of those more difficult conversations offline.
In instances of more negative reviews, through your response, you can reiterate their concerns and provide customers with an offline way to give more details about the situation, so the issue can be addressed and resolved quickly with personal interaction. And when you’re providing those contact details, you should emanate empathy and effort into solving their concerns. You absolutely should stay away from encouraging your customers to provide all the specific details online.
After all, according to our research, 89 percent of consumers indicated a willingness to change a negative review, depending on the business’ response to their criticism. So, smart responses from a franchise can result in a negative review reversal.
So, you’re monitoring reviews, responding quickly and appropriately, now what? Proactively monitoring your customers’ feedback for trends or commonalities, and making changes within your franchise to address those concerns makes you a local reputation management all-star. Depending on your review volume, create a monthly or quarterly audit of your customer reviews, and take note of anything that was addressed multiple times. Additionally, if you utilize a reputation management software, such as SOCi, you can regularly monitor terms and sentiments of reviews. This allows your business to proactively make changes to address concerns before you are asked.
By utilizing our guide to local reputation response, it puts your franchise or brand ahead of your competition. And by having a strategy for monitoring and responding to reviews, it can help franchises and businesses better understand their local audience, and potentially deliver improved customer experience.