According to a research report created by SOCi, positive reviews are the number one variable influencing consumer purchase decisions. Franchise brands with a positive online reputation have an edge in every market, but multi-location reputation management presents unique challenges.
How do you track reviews and ratings across multiple platforms for multiple business locations? How do you ensure your review responses are on-brand, on-time and effective? How do you divide review response resources between the corporate level and the franchise level?
Answering these questions will help you sidestep common mistakes that can damage both your brand’s reputation and bottom line. Below we explain how to avoid these mistakes and turn reputation management into an asset for your business, as opposed to a headache.
1. Expecting quality review response without proper tools
Even experienced employees will struggle with quality reputation management if they don’t have adequate software. Quality reputation management means responding to every review quickly while using review response best practices such as apologizing, empathizing, and moving the conversation offline. In the franchise space, it also means providing on-brand responses that are consistent across multiple locations.
Franchise brands can benefit from tools that facilitate on-brand review response, connecting different teams at both the franchise and corporate level. Reputation management software like SOCi features admin-approval workflows so corporate teams can approve on-brand responses, and each review can be tracked to ensure it receives a response. Giving your team the proper tools will ensure they don’t lose track of reviews or send out rogue responses.
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2. Failing to prioritize Facebook and Google
According to SOCI’s Q1 State of the Market report, Google My Business (GMB) and Facebook are the top platforms in terms of total volume of reviews, as they were in the Q4 2018 State of the Market report. While every brand must monitor Yelp, TripAdvisor and other industry-specific review platforms, it’s far more important to develop a reputation management strategy for Facebook and GMB. Make sure your strategy is comprehensive and up-to-date so that it accounts for newer platform features such as Facebook Recommendations, Google Q&A and Google Local Guides.
3. Allowing negative reviews to ruin your reputation
Businesses have to respond to negative reviews quickly to earn back the consumer’s trust; 89 percent of consumers reported that they would be willing to change a review depending on how the business responds.
Once you’ve responded, you can use your negative reviews to bolster your social media marketing strategy. Negative reviews can be used to inspire posts about renewing your commitment to customer service — see Domino’s rebranding efforts — or for examples of how you turned an unhappy customer into a satisfied customer by responding to a negative review and making things right. Negative reviews can even drive content marketing initiatives by inspiring high-level topics for blogs. If consumers care enough about an issue to write a review, they’ll likely care enough to share and read a blog about that same issue.
4. Underestimating consumer expectations
Google My Business, Facebook and other review platforms have given consumers more tools with which to share their experiences. Consumers are using these tools on review platforms, and they expect businesses to be active on them as well; SOCi’s Great Conversational Divide report revealed that 77 percent of consumers expect businesses to respond to reviews. Those responses must come quickly, too, as the report shows that 40 percent of consumers expect businesses to respond to reviews within 24-hours.
Still, some business owners struggle to realize the importance of reviews. SOCi’s research report revealed that 40 percent of business owners respond after 24-hours, or in some cases don’t respond at all. Those businesses are likely facing an uphill battle compared to competitors who may respond more quickly. SOCi’s report also revealed that 52 percent of consumers won’t buy from businesses that don’t have at least 4 stars. However, 41 percent of business owners surveyed thought that an average of 3 to 3.5 stars was a sufficient rating.
There is a disconnect between how much consumers care about reviews and how much business owners think consumers care about reviews. Franchise businesses that meet consumers expectations will have an immediate advantage.
5. Not using the insights gained from ratings and reviews
Savvy franchise marketers and owners examine reviews like customer surveys. This feedback often comes without the business having to ask for it; consumers will leave feedback on Facebook, Google, Yelp and other review platforms unprompted. These reviews — or Recommendations, as they’re called on Facebook — provide franchise brands with valuable feedback that can be used to improve the business.
As part of the aforementioned report, SOCi asked consumers how they examine reviews. Respondents said they look at the most recent reviews, the critical reviews, the positive reviews, and the star-rating. These are all components of your online reputation; data points that can be examined by you, the business owner, using tools like sentiment analysis and other features within SOCi’s reputation management tool.
SOCi’s Sentiment tool helps multi-location marketers identify and manage emerging sentiment and competitive trends from online reviews while analyzing shifts in online reputation over time. SOCi users can see the sentiment around individual keywords used in reviews, and find out whether people have positive or negative feelings about certain aspects of the business. For example, if a pizza shop owner sees a spike in negative sentiment around the word, “pepperoni”, they can use the tool to see when exactly the issue occurred, find out why, and fix it.
It’s not just your own reputation management data that matters; analyzing the competition’s reputation management data can reveal areas of weakness where you can gain a competitive edge. Are your competitors slow to respond to reviews? You can respond quickly to meet consumer expectations for review response. Are your competitors failing to earn a high volume of reviews? You can provide more links to your various review platforms in an effort to earn more up-to-date reviews, which consumers value.
Reputation management is a real challenge for franchise brands, but it’s one that must be addressed. The most effective reputation management strategies facilitate communication and coordination between corporate and local teams, thereby ensuring every review gets a fast, on-brand response. SOCi was designed to facilitate that coordination.