Why SOCi Prioritizes Authentic Customer Reviews Over 3rd Party Solicitation
In today’s digital landscape, customer reviews are more than just star ratings; they are the cornerstone of trust and credibility for any multi-location business. While it may be tempting to quickly boost your online reputation through 3rd party review solicitation for sites like Google, Facebook, or Yelp, you may be overlooking a pivotal opportunity to build a better, more sustainable online reputation by collecting 1st party feedback (customer reviews you capture via your website, email, or SMS).
The Power of 1st-Party Feedback
Many businesses thrive on building personal customer relationships, especially in customer-centric industries like the franchise sector. By proactively soliciting customer feedback through SOCi Surveys, businesses give customers a direct channel to feel valued and heard. 3rd-party review solicitation can tarnish customer relationships by turning the review process into a transactional affair where the customer feels they are being asked to do something that only benefits the business. This impersonal approach can backfire, leading to reviews that don’t truly reflect your business’s quality or spirit. This disconnection can significantly weaken a brand’s value in the long term.
“SOCi has been a game-changer for our company. It has allowed us to improve our communication with customers, increase our brand awareness, and reduce the amount of time it takes to respond to customer feedback.” — Dan Sokolik, VP of Marketing, Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken
Avoiding the Pitfalls of 3rd-Party Review Solicitation
But it’s not just about the nature of the relationship; it’s also about operational efficiency. According to our 2023 Local Visibility Index (LVI), one of every two reviews has yet to receive a response. Imagine the resource drain involved in managing a sudden influx of reviews. Lack of review response could quickly become overwhelming for franchise owners or multi-location enterprises, leading to poor review management and lost opportunities for constructive engagement. This detracts from what should be the primary goal of any service-oriented business: offering top-notch customer experiences.
Another significant concern with 3rd party review solicitation is that leading platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp have become increasingly adept at spotting inorganic reviews. With smart algorithms, they can discern patterns of artificial review generation, which can lead to penalties or the removal of reviews altogether. In this age of enhanced scrutiny, organic, genuine reviews are the gold standard for maintaining credibility and trustworthiness.
Data Ownership and Future-Proofing Your Brand
There’s also the matter of data ownership. By relying only on 3rd-party platforms for customer review data, businesses make themselves vulnerable to changes on those platforms, such as algorithm updates or policy shifts. This creates a cycle of dependency that can be detrimental to any business. Following recent changes to Google’s algorithm, many businesses had legitimate reviews removed from business profiles, leaving local businesses to deal with the consequences.
A solid reputation strategy leverages data from both 3rd and 1st party reviews. SOCi helps you generate first-party reviews and ensures you have direct control and ownership of the data you collect, thereby future-proofing your review data strategy against external disruptions.
The Importance of Brand Authenticity in the Customer Experience
But the most significant factor is the long-term building of customer relationships. By prioritizing review management and 1st party review generation, SOCi empowers businesses to create enduring bonds with customers. Rather than chasing every possible review through mass solicitation, SOCi advocates for enhancing customer experience in a way that organically leads to positive reviews. These days, consumers are 10 percent more likely to share good experiences than negative ones. It’s a simple yet effective approach: treat your customers well, and they will become ambassadors for your brand.
When collecting 1st party reviews via SOCi Surveys, you can have more intimate conversations with your customers through various survey templates, as seen in the example below, to get to the heart of the customer feedback and give customers a direct channel to express dissatisfaction so that they aren’t as likely to turn to 3rd party platforms to do so.
Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken used SOCi Surveys to gather all sentiment from inbound and website comments, allowing them to have a one-stop shop for franchisees and restaurant operators to view and respond to all customer comments.
Since implementing SOCi surveys, Lee’s has seen numerous positive results, including a 10 percent increase in positive reviews among all networks and a 50 percent decrease in negative reviews on Facebook.
Moreover, SOCi emphasizes the quality of each review over sheer numbers. A rapid influx of reviews may look good on the surface, but often, these are superficial and lack depth. Thirty-two percent of reviews on Google have no review text, yet 85 percent of customers trust reviews with written text over only a star rating (Yelp). Reviews from actual customer experiences offer rich insights and context, enabling potential customers to make more informed decisions.
SOCi’s commitment to ethical review practices allows us to maintain valuable partnerships with major review providers: Google, Facebook, and Yelp. While some providers might downplay Yelp’s significance due to its firm “no solicitation” policy, Yelp’s influence is undeniable. With over 80 million monthly visitors and a top 3 site referenced by customers on where they go to find local reviews, ignoring Yelp will be at your own peril.
Taking Control of Your Brand’s Online Review Management Strategy
In summary, while rapidly accumulating reviews may be tempting, a more thoughtful, organic approach provides a far greater long-term value. Our strategy helps you build a robust, trustworthy reputation that genuinely reflects the essence of your business. We understand that every business is different, and we are here to help you tailor a review strategy that aligns with your unique needs and objectives.
Reach out to learn more about how SOCi can help your multi-location enterprise build a sustainable, authentic online reputation.