Customer care is as much an art as it is a science. Anyone who’s tried maintaining a consistent brand voice while responding to customer care issues at the franchise level knows how hard it is, but SOCi is here to help with The Franchise Playbook for Localized Social Marketing. This forward-thinking guide will help you navigate the murky waters of managing customer care across thousands of franchise locations.
Negative reviews and comments happen, but proper training and support can reduce risk and transform an unhappy customer into a loyal advocate. Great customer care and timely responses can also help enhance satisfaction and help your company stand out from the crowd.
Here are six best practices — from The Franchise Playbook for Localized Social Marketing — to keep in mind when managing reviews and feedback at the local level.
1. Avoid cookie-cutter responses.
If your business is just getting started in the review response realm, it’s ok to use templated responses to common feedback, questions, and complaints. However, an advanced reputation management strategy should involve as much personalization as possible. You respond to reviews to show customers that you, as a business or franchise, understand the feedback and are taking steps to improve. While cookie-cutter responses are convenient, they don’t convey empathy as well as personalized responses do.
Of course, personalizing responses at the franchise level requires time and buy-in from franchise owners. To take the guesswork out of managing these responses, create a guide with explanations of appropriate posts and responses to common questions or concerns.
2. Ensure your responses are on-brand.
Maintaining a consistent brand voice can be difficult if you have multiple people splitting the task of managing your online presence on multiple Local Pages. However, technology solutions like SOCi can help you manage this workflow by providing an approval process before responses get posted.
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3. Grow your base of local reviews.
Reviews build social clout and brand credibility. The amount and quality of reviews can also improve search rankings and overall SEO efforts.
However, each review site has varying degrees of what it encourages in terms of how you get reviews. Yelp frowns upon businesses asking for reviews in any form, while Google and Facebook simply don’t want you to do mass solicitation (i.e. sending a mass email to all your contacts asking for a review).
To get more from your reviews, ask for reviews the right way, at the right time in the customer journey—the end of the transaction, when they reorder, or after they tag you on social media. Make it easy for your customers to respond with an optimized site, visible review tabs or direct links to your profile on a specific platform. Don’t forget to thank every customer for their feedback, and respond to every review.
4. Respond at the speed of mobile.
Consumers are looking for responses to their comments and reviews. According to a research report conducted by SOCi and the Local Search Association, a growing portion expect to hear back within 24 hours. In fact, Facebook has started to highlight those businesses within local search results that respond within this window. As a business, it is essential to actively listen and respond to these conversations where they are happening, particularly in our 24/7 world where consumers make inquiries on the fly and around the clock.
National franchise brands can invest in technology like SOCi that makes this process easier — allowing marketers to manage all reviews in one platform, receive new review alerts, respond to reviews at individual locations, and even set pre-approvals and reminders for review responses.
5. Find your ratings sweet spot.
You might assume that a few negative reviews could destroy the reputation of a business, but that’s not usually the case. In fact, consumers are suspect of businesses with perfect 5-star ratings. According to that research report we mentioned earlier, over half of consumers expect between a 3.5 to 4-star rating in order to consider the business.
The report also highlights the fact that the quantity of reviews also matters. Sites like Google My Business require at least five reviews before displaying an average star rating, and consumers expect at least 10 reviews before they’ll see your star rating as credible. Businesses should always strive to continually increase their number of reviews, as we know that both average star ratings and number of reviews are becoming a key ranking factor in search. In addition, building your base of reviews ensures that one negative review won’t come in and tank your overall star rating.
6. Stay current to stay relevant
SOCI’s latest research shows that three out of four consumers look at the review date as a measure of relevance. In fact, most consumers only look at reviews that were conducted within the past year. This point further emphasizes the need to proactively manage your base of reviews.
Our research found that 80 percent of reviewers expect a timely response to an online review or comment. The same report shows that 89 percent of consumers are willing to change a negative review based on how the business responds.
Those are huge numbers that underline the importance of customer care. How are you going to take steps to turn your business’ online reputation into an asset?