Basics of Review Management
Online reviews have changed the nature of customer feedback, bringing private conversations out into the open. Whether the sentiment being expressed online is positive or negative, it is important for brands to have a review management strategy that defines how they will handle the opinions being expressed by customers online.
With 97% of consumers now searching online for local businesses and 91% of 18 to 34-year-old trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, it has never been more important for brands to have a clear understanding of what is being written about their products and services online.
Where to begin?
Launching a review management strategy can be overwhelming for brands that have several years worth of accumulated reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google, and Facebook to contend with.
In most cases, it’s not worth responding to reviews that are six months or older. Although it may be worth responding to particularly notable reviews from the past, brand marketers are better served by spending their efforts on monitoring and responding to recent reviews.
Each brand should have its own response criteria, which dictates which reviews and topics require an immediate response. Start by responding to any reviews from the past 30 days that meet the pre-defined response criteria. Once you’ve gotten caught up on older reviews, you’ll be in a much better position to monitor and respond to incoming reviews on a real-time basis.
Which reviews warrant a response?
Some brands respond to every review, positive or negative, but that approach isn’t always realistic for larger organizations.
One of the basic tenets of review management is that brands should thank and encourage their fans with just as much care as they address the concerns of their detractors. If you only respond to negative reviews, you risk creating the impression that you only care about customer feedback when it makes you look bad.
Responding to as many reviews as possible shows that your brand cares about feedback from all of its customers, and that you are looking to create rewarding experiences for as many people as possible.
Handling negative reviews
Every brand experiences negative reviews. Responding to public criticism takes a certain amount of sensitivity and attention to detail.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to approach negative reviews with the assumption that the reviewer means well. Try not to take negative reviews personally. Your response will be seen publicly, so always remain polite and professional, even in instances where the reviewer is rude.
Templates can be helpful in these instances, particularly when reviews are being handled by a team at the corporate office or by regional managers. Although negative reviews can present a range of unique challenges, responses should be developed in accordance with standard policies that the brand has created. These policies are a continuation of other company policies that most brands have in place, such as policies for customer service and handling customer complaints while maintaining a consistent brand voice.
For more insight on how to handle reviews, be sure to check out The SOCi Guide to Review Management and Response.