You can’t please everyone. Although the occasional dissatisfied customer is a part of life, most complaints can be handled quickly and easily. When a complaint escalates and results in a negative review that is posted online, brands have to take action.
The best way to improve your online reputation, of course, is to shift the balance of positive to negative reviews. The more positive reviews that appear when people search for a brand on Google, the better the brand’s reputation. You can encourage satisfied customers to leave you a review on Google -- though be sure not to directly encourage customers to leave reviews on Yelp, since this practice violates Yelp’s policies.
Despite your best efforts, however, it’s difficult to avoid the occasional negative review. The best way to soften the impact of a negative review is to have a reputation management strategy in place before the review gets posted, including standard ways of answering complaints that may occur more frequently. It’s also a great idea to use critical reviews as constructive feedback to improve your business.
Although reactive reputation management strategies are common, that is not the approach that we recommend at Brandify. Research shows that a proactive approach to reputation management leads to better results. Eighty-eight percent of people say they trust online reviews as much as personal information, so it’s more important than ever before for brands to improve how they listen, respond to, and take action on both positive and negative reviews.
Streamlined review management software can help brands that need support at scale, but the following pieces of advice are also helpful for brands that need advice on where to begin.
1. Expand your presence. It’s not enough to monitor reviews on just one or two platforms. The key to improving your online reputation is to track and respond to reviews across a wide variety of platforms. Companies like Brandify can help you do this at scale, but smaller businesses can also track reviews manually by coming up with a list of the most influential websites and monitoring them daily.
2. Track mentions of names and products. What happens if someone posts a negative review of a product that you sell without mentioning your brand by name? Savvy marketers will track keywords, including all major product names, sister brands, and even key executives. If negative reviews are posted that include those keywords, the marketer can respond with sensitivity and attention to detail.
3. Leverage review content for local inquiries. One of the ways brands can establish dominance in discoverability for local and voice search is by strategically leveraging review content. The most straightforward way to do this is posting first-party reviews on local landing pages.
4. Use reviews as an opportunity to improve. Critical reviews can be difficult to read, but in many cases there is something to learn from a customer’s negative experience. Multi-location businesses should consider forwarding reviews to store or branch managers, so they can use customer critiques to educate their employees. Learning from negative reviews and replying in a thoughtful way is always preferable to getting in a public argument with an online reviewer.
5. Consider using an online reputation management platform. Companies like Brandify handle the heavy lifting when it comes to improving your online reputation, with tools specifically designed to help multi-location brands monitor reviews at scale. If the number of reviews posted about your company has become too much to handle, it’s probably time to call in the professionals for advice.
To learn more about Brandify’s suite of reputation management tools for multi-location brands, click here.