Consumers are quick to voice their opinion online – whether it be positive or negative. Often times, consumers look for online reviews when going through the buying process. In fact, two-thirds of consumers trust opinions posted online.
In today’s digitally driven era, a positive online presence is necessary for small business success. A critical part of managing this presence is monitoring online reviews – any comments made on the web about your product, service or business either directly to your company’s website, social media pages or to other sites that aggregate consumer reviews (think: Yelp, Yellow Pages, Google Reviews, etc.).
Online reviews are a powerful way for consumers to connect with previous customers as they learn about a business. As a national brand manager, why else is it important to encourage your local affiliate to maintain their online reviews?
- Develop a relationship: When customers leave reviews, it allows them to have a voice and provide valuable feedback. For small business owners, these comments open the door to better understand their customers, address concerns and hopefully create a positive experience for the customer, even if the first impression wasn’t entirely positive.
- Increase sales: Positive reviews directly correlate with an increase in sales. Customers are likely to spend 31 percent more on a business with ‘excellent’ reviews, and 92 percent will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating. A potential customer who sees a product or service online with positive reviews is more apt to purchase it after seeing that reassurance.
- Improve SEO: Having online reviews will help a small business' appear higher on search engines -- whether it's their website or business profile on a review site that shows up in search results. The more reviews, the more likely the business will be found via search engine by customers who are searching for a product or service.
- Maintain online reputation: The reputation of a small business is everything. Online reviews can directly affect reputation, so responding quickly, remaining professional and being helpful is crucial to your brand’s image -- from the national level all the way down to individual local business locations.
Managing Negative Reviews of Franchisees, Agents and Dealers
If negative reviews happen, it’s important to have a plan of action on how to respond.Here are some quick tips on reacting to negative reviews at the local level. If you haven't already, adapt advice like this for your industry and rband, then provide it to field marketing managers, regional account managers and local affiliates alike.
- Make sure you respond: Customers leave reviews for many reasons, one being to warn others. Responding to a negative review reassures both current and potential customers that the issue is being addressed and the small business is customer-responsive.
- Respond in a timely manner: SMB owners should NEVER let weeks or months go by before responding. But also, do not become defensive or aggressive when a customer is negative toward the business. Take a deep breath and keep a cool head before responding.
- Be sincere: If a negative customer claim is true, apologize and explain how the business will resolve the issue. Show the customer and the public that the business is accountable, but also give the customer who is complaining a way to reach someone directly via a private channel.
- Think long-term: Try to solve the bigger issue at hand to ensure the same concern does not happen again to another customer.
Praise Positive Reviews of Local Affiliates in Distributed Local Marketing
Sometimes, local franchise owners, dealers and affiliates think they only need to respond to negative reviews. Not responding to a positive review means you’re missing an opportunity to interact with a happy customer and create a positive relationship. Here are some tips for responding to positive reviews:
- Be personal: Don’t have a cookie cutter response that will come off as detached and insincere. Use the customer’s name and specific context they included in the review. Let them know that the business took the time to read the review and sincerely respond, creating a friendly relationship.
- Share the review: Spread the news of the positive review both internally and externally. It will boost affiliate and employee morale and keep them motivated to create more positive experiences. Also share the review with potential customers on your business website through a testimonials page or link to the review from other social media sites.
- Encourage future interaction: Give the customer a link to "Like" your business Facebook page or other social media pages the business is on to stay on top of future news, sales, etc. This way, the business is sure to stay connected to customers, driving loyalty and future advocacy. Make sure the customer knows the business is excited to see/service them again, and encourage them to invite their friends and family to have the same positive experience with your business.
Quick Guide of Major Online Review Sites
Need a quick guide of the 3 leading online review sites? We’ve got you covered:
Google My Business
- Combines Google Maps, Google Search and Google Reviews into one easily manageable interface for business owners
- Customers can quickly access business information by Googling the business name (driving directions, hours of operation, contact info, star ratings, reviews, etc.).
- It’s vital to have all business info accurate and up-to-date
- Note: If your business was previously on Google Places or Google+, you have automatically been upgraded to Google My Business
- Yelp has an average of 89 million unique visitors who have written more than 90 million reviews.
- Yelp audience includes America and 32 other countries.
- 43% of the ratings are 5 stars, and only 14% of businesses received 1 star.
- It’s essential for business owners to claim their page and update address, phone number, photos, etc.
- Yellow Pages reaches 70 million visitors each month with its 20 million business listings.
- 77% of consumers contact a merchant within 24 hours of searching on YP
- 66% of consumers make a purchase from a business after searching YP
With so many consumers starting at search when going through the buying process, monitoring and responding to reviews are imperative parts of maintaining the reputation of your national brand and all the small businesses affiliated with it. If you want to learn more about how we can help you monitor and manage online reviews, please contact us for more.
How has responding to reviews positively impacted your business? When did you not respond and it hindered your business? We want to hear. Comment below.