1 -Focus on the sites that are most relevant to your business.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses try to be everywhere at once. Start nimble and agile and pick the review sites that really make sense for your business vertical. Trying to be truly present and manage many sites can quickly become overwhelming, and this is one of those things where you don’t want anything falling through the cracks as it might ruin your online reputation.
2 - Claim and own listings on key review sites.
Start with establishing a strong presence on your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business). Make sure you claim any locations you own and remove any duplicates that may be out there. You need to own this channel and be the leading voice for your audience not only to find you but to start being part of the conversation.
It doesn’t stop there; while your Google Business Profile will most likely be the first touchpoint for your customers, 70% of consumers look at multiple review sites when choosing a local business. Again, depending on your vertical, you’ll need to pick the right set of directories, but there are obvious ones that fit every bill: Facebook, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Tripadvisor are all good places to explore next.
3 - Have a review management strategy in place:
Establishing your local online presence is just the start. That’s —sort of— the easy part. What comes after it’s equally important. Maintaining your reputation online requires you to have an action plan, and you need to be consistent. Here’s what we suggest:
ESTABLISH A CADENCE & FREQUENCY
Think of online reviews as an extension of your customer service and ask yourself the following question: If you were a customer, would you be ok with waiting 3 days for an answer?Establish a schedule to check your listings and to reply to any concerns your customers might express online. Consumers‘ expectations are pretty high; Neglecting them here is as bad as ignoring them inside your stores.
HAVE A TEAM STRUCTURE IN PLACE
Define roles and establish from the get-go who does what. This will avoid stepping on each other’s toes and overlapping messages. The team needs to have clear guidelines on handling reviews – good and bad – with a united front on what to say, when, and why.
HANDLE ALL REVIEWS
A quick, personalized thank you note goes a long way when replying to a positive review. That’s how you build connection with the people who like your business and are happy with what you offer to them.
Negative reviews are trickier and require more tact and critical thinking. When replying to a negative review, make sure you consider the tone you use, as nuances are often missed in written communication. Make sure you are very clear and use an empathic tone. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to figure out what went wrong and what you can do to make things better. Never-ever engage with rage or offensive language. If things go out of control, always offer to take it offline and jump on email or a phone call to smooth out the relationship.
4 - Learn from your online reviews.
They are a true treasure trove of consumer insights coming from the people who matter the most. Take notice of the language your customers are using when they talk about your brand, extract long-tail keywords to hone on your SEM strategy, and mirror the sentiment you see online towards your business. Take action on trends you identify from reviewers. Ask yourself the hard questions and follow up with your store managers to meet consumers’ expectations. As we all know well, they are pretty high these days!
5 - Develop an eye for fake reviews and get rid of them.
Online reviews are a source of trust, and people can smell a fake from terabytes away. But even when they can’t tell the difference, the longer a fake bad review stays up on the internet, the more traction it can develop and harm it can inflict on your business. So we recommend that even if you smell a fake, take some time to reply to the review; this shows everyone online that you are on top of your game and that you take ownership of your reputation. If you don’t hear back from the concerned reviewer, it might be a fake, and – in the case of Google – there are ways to flag them and report them when they violate their policies.