Posted on October 9, 2019 - By Melissa Bellas
If you’ve been paying any attention to digital marketing lately, you’ve likely been hearing a lot about online reputation. But what exactly does this mean, and, perhaps more importantly, does it matter to your fuel business?
Your online reputation is determined by what people are saying about you, not what you say about yourself. The answer then, is a resounding ‘yes.’ In today’s digitally dominated world, online reviews have replaced word-of-mouth marketing in terms of products, services, and businesses alike. And with 97% of consumers saying reviews influence their decision to do business with a company1 and 84% of people trusting online reviews as much as they’d trust a recommendation from a family member or friend2, reputation management has become a must for any business.
As the internet and social media continue to grow and evolve, it’s becoming increasingly important to actively control, manage and define your online presence. And that means generating and responding to all reviews. As a matter of fact, reviews now account for 15.44% of how Google ranks local businesses3.
“…Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback they leave about your business.”
The bottom line is that reviews require a response (yep, even the negative ones). As potential customers are constantly browsing through both the positive and negative reviews, how you respond can make all the difference in showing both prospects and customers (and even the search engines) your commitment to customer satisfaction. And while it may be more difficult to muster up the patience to acknowledge, validate, and respond to a negative review – it’s still crucial that you do.
…speaking of negative reviews! Every business gets a negative review at some point – it’s inevitable. But what do you do when it happens to your business?
While your initial reaction may be to take the reviewer’s comments as a personal insult – you definitely should not take it personally. Instead, take a breath, give yourself some time to decompress, and then get to work on crafting your response. Leverage this moment as an opportunity to improve your business’ reputation and showcase that amazing customer service.
Remember…when it comes to customer service, the customer is always right. And even if you know they aren’t, it’s important to acknowledge their concerns. Often not for the customer who posted the review, but for everybody who reads it. People want to see that you care enough about your customers to respond to their concerns. Always thank the customer for bringing their situation to your attention. Then, apologize.
Once you’ve acknowledged the issue, it is only natural that you provide an apology. Even if you have done nothing wrong, or that your business is not at fault, it’s important to let your customer know that you are sorry they had a bad experience. A little sympathy can go a long way in appeasing the customer and shows others that you care about providing excellent service. Make sure your apology is sincere, succinct, and demonstrates that your business is not too proud to own up to mistakes if there were any. After all, transparency is key – people don’t like to do business with those who feel they’re perfect or too proud to apologize.
When you get a negative review, don’t just respond – offer a solution if you can. By showing that you’re actively trying to fix the problem, your customers and potential prospects see your dedication to making things right. Providing a helpful, humble response also helps generate a customer-centric reputation. Determine what, if anything, you can do to make the situation right, create a plan, then put it into action. If you can’t do anything to fix what happened, take ownership and promise to make things right in the future.
When you’ve received a negative review, it’s important to remember that everything you say in your reply is out there for the public to see. And the last thing you’d want to do is engage in a back and forth battle. Instead, use your initial reply to simply let the customer know that you’ve heard them and ask them to contact you personally so you can address the matter directly. This not only demonstrates your receptiveness to feedback, but also shifts the power dynamic by turning your business from a seemingly faceless organization to one that truly cares about its customers via personable one-on-one encounters. By providing a designated phone number or email, you show customers and prospects that your company takes customer service seriously enough to have someone in charge and ready to address any problems. And even if you don’t hear back from the interviewer, anyone who comes in contact with the review thread will at least see that you tried to rectify the situation.
When someone posts a negative review about your business, it’s imperative that you respond as quickly as possible. Timeliness is everything and goes a long way in showing that your business cares and has concern for its customers. As a matter of fact, research has found that 52% of customers expect to hear back from businesses within 7 days of giving an online review, particularly one that’s negative or critical. 25% are more demanding, expecting a review response within 3 days, while 21% expect brands to have a response time of just 24 hours or less4. Once a review is posted, the clock starts ticking, so make sure to continuously monitor all platforms so that you can respond quickly.
What better way to “push down” a negative review than by generating more positive reviews? Research shows that on average, people read 10 reviews before deciding whether or not to use a business. And with reviews often being ordered chronologically, all you need is a steady flow of positive reviews coming in to move any lingering negative reviews out of the field of influence. Start by making it easy for happy customers to leave reviews about your business and encouraging them to do so!
…speaking of happy customers – positive reviews happen too! And much like negative reviews, positive reviews also require some sort of response or acknowledgement from your business. Responding to a positive review is one of the easiest ways to engage with happy customers and strengthen one-on-one relationships. Actively participating in positive online conversations about your business and the local communities you serve can encourage others to join in, ultimately generating more buzz and visibility for your business. Talk about a win-win! Consider these tips for responding to positive reviews.
If a person were to compliment you in real life, you’d (in all likeliness) say thank you – and its no different online! Always take the time to thank your reviewers first and foremost, and acknowledge that their kind words do not go unnoticed. After all, you cannot expect appreciation without expressing it yourself. And better yet, these great reviews and high ratings act as powerful social proof in attracting new customers and influencing their decision-making process. You want to keep them coming!
Everyone likes to receive good news – especially your team members! If a review mentions someone by name, be sure to pass along the compliment. Responding to positive reviews not only allows you to share some great feedback, but also makes it a point to let your team know that their hard work is appreciated and to call out your superstars. What better way to keep your employees motivated?
Much like negative reviews, when responding to positive reviews, time is of the essence. Since reviews are often left immediately following a purchase, visit, or specific experience, you want to respond quickly to keep the positive experience top of mind. And by responding in a timely manner, you show how appreciative you are – it’s a simple action that goes a long way in accompanying your words of thanks.
With so much competition vying for consumers’ trust and business, it’s never been more important to take charge of your online reputation. And while online reputation management can definitely pose challenges, it can also be rewarding. With constant monitoring of review sites, well-trained employees, quick responses, and happy customers, you’ll be on the right track to a shining 5-star reputation in no time.
In one year alone, Warm Thoughts generates 2,180 positive reviews for our clients – that’s 6 new reviews every day! Contact us today to see how Warm Thoughts digital marketing programs can help you create experiences that drive leads and communicate your brand in a way that resonates with prospects and customers.