The Online Review Process

Review management is important for all businesses as it is an indication of how customers view your business. It also offers potential customers an insight into the experiences of others. Ideally we would all have multiple 5/5 star reviews, across all platforms, with excellent feedback and recommendations saying how good our business is. However, this isn’t a reality and for some businesses the lack of reputation management will actually be reducing the amount of custom they are getting.

5 Star Assisted

Bad reviews lower the value of your brand. It’s as though that review platforms who assign you a rating (based on how the user rates you) give your brand a definitive value. Bad reviews lower the chances of attracting a new customer. Here’s a review system that helps to minimise the effect of bad reviews and increases the effects of good ones.

Claim Your Listings

This will involve you claiming and monitoring listings across multiple key websites such as:

Google is your main priority as a Google search should show up a knowledge graph for your business. This knowledge graph pulls through your reviews on Google and other ratings from review sites such as the sites mentioned. These sites are trusted by Google so the information displayed on them can be pulled through onto your company listing.

There are other sites such as WhichTrustedTrader that can be pulled through but these are more industry specific and it is more common to see generic sites listed on the knowledge graph.

You claim the listings on these sites and smaller ones in order to create a singular brand identity. By putting time into claiming and optimising listings, it shows that you value your brand’s identity. A bad listing, with a bad review gives off a bad message. A good listing, with a bad review may just interest a potential customer enough to stay on your listing.

Assisted Profiles

Respond To All Reviews

Whether you are receiving positive or negative reviews, then you need to reply to people who are taking time to engage with your business. And yes that does mean responding to online trolls!

Negative reviews should always be responded to. You can flag them on most platforms if you believe that they are spam but that doesn’t always guarantee that they’ll be removed. In fact as long as it doesn’t break any of the sites guidelines then even a fake review will still appear.

It’s okay to say in your response that you are unaware of ever conducting business with them (don’t do this for every review though as this looks suspicious too). A reply like the below is an example of what it may sound like:

Thank you for taking time to leave us a review. Unfortunately we don’t have any records of ever conducting business with you, although we’d be happy to discuss any concerns you may have with our business. Please feel free to contact us at [insert phone number or email address]. Kind Regards The [insert business name] Team

This type of response does a couple of thing to potential customers. Primarily, it ensures that you look professional and customer focused despite receiving a negative review. It also indicates to readers that you believe someone is trying to falsely discourage using your service or product (maybe a competitor). The statement concludes with ways of getting in touch. This takes the disagreement offline (don’t air your dirty laundry). If an argument ensues on platforms such as Facebook then it can be a messy drawn out affair, for all to see. This in itself will put potential customers off.

If you receive a genuine bad review, then don’t hide from it. Take responsibility and make amends:

Hi [insert reviewers name], thank you for leaving a review. We’re really sorry that you’ve had a bad experience with us. We try to ensure that we provide the best experience possible for each and every customer. [insert personalised sentence if possible]* We’d really like to get in touch with you to correct any errors we have made. Please contact us at [insert phone number or email address]. Kind Regards The [insert business name] Team

*We really enjoyed seeing you and your wife at our restaurant

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You can offer a full refund too (although this is personal preference). Some people who have a good experience or who receive a good product will then leave a bad review in order to receive money back if they think that’s your policy for bad reviews (yes some people really are that dishonest). Again you take the problem offline as quickly as possible though. Private discussions allow you to elaborate further and disagree with a customer if necessary. Even if you disagree in private emails and phone calls, ensure you remain professional at all times. Screenshots posted of your conversations are going to do you no favours if you’ve said one thing on the review and another to the customer in private. OWN the fact that yes you know you’ve dropped the ball for this customer but clearly indicate that this is abnormal and will be rectified.

Good reviews are much easier to respond to. Incorporate a “thank you”, “glad you enjoyed it” and “hope to deal with you again” into your reply such as the one below:

Hi [insert reviewers name]. Thank you for the review, we’re really please you enjoyed your experience with us. We hope that we’ll be seeing you again soon, please let us know if there’s anything we can do to make your visit even better next time. Kind Regards The [insert business name] Team.

Although these are three different review response they all contain similar elements:

  • Professionalism
  • Honesty
  • Customer Satisfaction as a Main Priority
  • Personalisation Where Possible
  • No talk of removing the review at this point

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Gaining Reviews

How do you go about getting reviews? You ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! People don’t always remember to automatically leave you a good review. There are plenty of ways of asking too!

  • Face to Face – you can ask your customer to leave you a review as they are leaving your shop, store or service. This still relies on the customer remembering when they get home to leave the review. Mobile has made it easier to leave instantaneous reviews but you do not want to be overly pushy about getting a review. It may mean they actually give you a worse review.
  • Step by Step Guide – These come in various forms, such as paper handouts, pdf files or even little novelty business cards. They’re great for sending off with a product, including within an email or for leaving at the place of a service. They provide steps on how to leave reviews on a certain platform. Step by step guides for all platforms should be created and you should match customers to the review platform you’re trying to boost.
  • Emails – Follow up, thank you and reminder emails are a great way of connecting with your audience when they are already online. Links to review platforms and your Google knowledge graph put the customer in the exact position you want them to be in.

Never buy or negotiate reviews. This is against most review site policies and can get you penalised or have your reviews marked as unreliable. If people think you are gaining reviews unethically then they will be more inclined to ignore all of your good reviews, even the real ones!

You have to remember and understand that there is a negative review bias online. People are more likely to leave a bad review than they are a good one. This is why it is important to actively seek good, natural reviews from customers who are happy.

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