Do Customers Really Look at Online Reviews?

Do Customers Really Look at Online Reviews?

Do Customers Really Look at Online Reviews?

Your website might be a shrine to the great work that you have done for past and current customers. There may be a host of glowing testimonials from clients saying how great your product is, how fantastic the service is and how they would recommend your business to anyone. But what about when people are searching for unbiased reviews of your business on websites that don’t belong to you?

reputation management

According to a survey by Lightspeed Research, 61% of consumers have read a review online for a product or service. Reviews are the second most popular online research by clients behind price comparison. This could suggest that if price is similar between you and competitors, then the one thing that will sway a buying decision in your business’s favour are glowing testimonials on third party sites.

Of the vast number of consumers that search for reviews, 70% use search engines to find them. Think about the search terms that potential customers might be using to find reviews about your business:

  • Review of “business name”
  • Review of “product name”
  • “business name” review
  • “product name” review”

There are hundreds of sites online that provide a facility where past users can leave a review about your business, from well known directory sites such as YELL right the way through to niche specific websites that give consumers the power to air their feelings about your business. With the increasing number of these sites it can be increasingly difficult to monitor what is actually being said about your business.

Many businesses either don’t know that these review sites exist, or they know about them but do nothing to manage their online reputation, allowing negative reviews to damage their online presence. Between one and three bad reviews about your business will deter the majority (67%) of consumers from purchasing a particular product or service.

online reputation management

Two out of every three people who see a negative review about your business may in fact choose to find someone else to work with. That is a huge number. If you are concerned about conversion rates and cost per customer acquisition, and let’s be honest as a business owner who isn’t, then this could have a dramatic effect on both the number of leads your business gets and more importantly the number of conversions or new clients.

Not everybody is perfect.

At this point you may be thinking that you should hunt down all the negative reviews and look to get them removed from the internet. That in fact is the wrong thing to do, unless of course the review is simply defamatory. Take the opportunity to enhance your online reputation by responding to the reviews and offering to understand the customers concern in greater detail. This shows future prospective client that you care about the services you deliver and you want everyone to have a 5 star service. Getting all the negative reviews removed simply looks unnatural. Nobody is perfect and if prospective clients see twenty five star reviews and no negatives then they may start to think that some form of censorship is occurring.

What people say about your business is vitally important. Managing and monitoring what is being said about your business is one thing. Taking the time to dissect the reviews, both positive and negative, and making changes to the day to day operations and culture of the business can have a far greater effect on business growth.

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

You Are What Ever Your Clients Say You Are!

With the ever increasing amount of messages that each individual customer is exposed to, buyers’ expectations are rising and it is becoming harder to earn audience trust. Without trust there is little chance of building long term profitable business relationships. That is why being customer focused should not only be at the heart of your marketing but also at the basis of everything that you do.

This next sentence may shock people; in fact it might even offend some business owners!

Nobody cares what you think about your product, your service or your business because to all intents and purposes that is a canned and measured response.

What people want to know about your company is the stories people tell about it!

The sooner you accept that what other people say is far more important to the success of your business than what you have to say, the better for your business and the easier it will be on your finances.

If the word surrounding your business is positive, then great! Capitalise on that buzz and attract as many targeted people as you can to witness that buzz for themselves so they too can become interested in what you do, how you do it, how they can become a part of it and share it with those that they know.

On the other hand if the general consensus is that your business is poor and does not deliver on what it says it does then STOP!

stop sign

Take a step back, listen to what people are saying, assess where the problem is and put things right. Then ask people again to judge you on how you are doing?  When the feedback comes back positive then you can look at growing once again.

People need to see for their own eyes what others are saying about your business before making a commitment to become a business partner. To help people make up their mind you should think about the following steps that can improve the return on your marketing investment:

Know your customer – The more you know about your customer, the easier it will become to provide that personalised message. If you have an image of what your customer looks like, what books they read, what makes them happy, where they live, or what industry they work in, then attracting that prospect to become a lead or a customer will be far easier and over time will cost less as conversions will be higher.

Consistency – When a prospect is considering joining your business there is no doubt that your sales and support staff will be there to allow that person to feel a part of how your business runs. If this changes, i.e. the point of contact is no longer available, support staff are currently always engaged or not available at all, then your client is soon going to be disgruntled.

Be consistent with your offering to the client and manage expectations from the outset as to what the client can and should expect from your business and stick to it.

Communicate – Don’t just talk to the customer, make the relationship a two way street. Many people don’t like the idea of giving power to the customer. The truth of the matter is that the internet has given the power to the customer anyway, so deal with it by giving them great things to say about you, and often.

Businesses are now more transparent than ever, honesty and openness is expected so embrace it and allow your business to thrive on it.

Always be listening – Review sites have given the consumer many more options to get their opinions heard. It is no longer in the power of the business to send out a periodic questionnaire as a customer can now go on Yelp, Google+, Qype, Touch Local, Twitter or Facebook and express an opinion. This can happen 24/7/365 and the results mean that  anyone searching for information about your business will see consumer generated content, comments, opinions and real life experiences of working with you and your business.

listening

Have a system in place where you can constantly monitor what is being said about your business and your online reputation, and be prepared to deal with negative criticism when they arrive.

You cannot please everybody, but how you resolve the situation with those that are unhappy when the eyes and ears of the world are on you can impact how prospective clients view your business both in a positive and negative light.

Act Decisively – In the past if you had a problem with a product or service you would go to the customer service desk, ask for the manager or perhaps fill out a customer complaint form to get an apology and a promise from the manager that the issue would be investigated and resolved. What would happen after that is anybody’s guess!

Now it is a completely different kettle of fish. The public nature of the social web means that when somebody has something negative to say about your company you need to act decisively as in the digital world things can quickly escalate.

By embracing the voice of your customers in the digital world your business will be available and responsive to your ideal client’s needs which are essential to building great customer relationships.

If you don’t treat your customers with the trust, respect and care they deserve and bought into when signing up with your business, there is a string of eager and dedicated competitors that will be more than happy to take those clients from you.

Set Clear Customer Expectations to Minimize Negative Reviews

Set Clear Customer Expectations to Minimize Negative Reviews

Set Clear Customer Expectations to Minimize Negative Reviews

customer expectationsIn a recent client meeting, we were discussing the issue of negative online reviews and the impact they can have on your business’s perceived reputation. The client in question had received 2 negative public reviews online in the past month, yet had also received gifts of wine, flowers and chocolates from some of the hundred plus new clients they had served that month. Taken into context, the 2 negative reviews should be a drop in the ocean, yet they are there online for all the world to see, while the Thank you cards and gifts remain discretely in the office.

Managing your online reputation and encouraging those positive reviews online is one thing, but dealing with difficult customers in general is another and if you really want to minimize the negative online reviews then the customer issue is what you must get to the bottom of.

Whilst there are some people who will always be a nightmare customer, no matter who they’re dealing with, they’re few and far between. Most people who submit bad reviews will legitimately feel that they’ve been hard done by and if you seem to be getting several of these type of reviews it may be worth adjusting your customer engagement plan to make sure that you’ve got all your bases covered every step of the way.

Set Expectations

Make sure your client knows exactly what it is and isn’t that you’ll be doing for them. Explain your working hours, expected turnaround time, potential problems that could arise and how you can work around them.

Think about putting together some sort of fact sheet or welcome pack that you can give a client to take away with them, but make sure you draw their attention to the important parts. If there is a step in the process you are likely to be kept waiting for information or results then make sure your client knows that any delay there will not be down to you or your business, for example if you are a conveyancing solicitor and waiting for survey results.

Above all, make sure that your client is happy with the process and that they understand what is going to happen.

Have a clear Communication Strategy

A common complaint from customers of many businesses is around communication. Either that they didn’t get any updates, or that they were kept waiting, or that they couldn’t get hold of the person they needed to.

When you are explaining your process to a customer make sure you let them know when and how you’ll be getting in touch with them with updates. Whether it is a daily email, weekly phone call, or a letter next month make sure you stick to it. While you might know that everything is moving along as it should be and that there is nothing to report, a client who is waiting to hear from you about their Divorce paperwork, house purchase, or Tax rebate may be frantic with worry.

Make sure that you follow up when you have promised to, even if it’s a simple email saying you’ve got nothing to report! Likewise, make sure that if people need to contact you there is a way for them to do it. If you never check your voicemail, then make sure people can’t leave message on it, if you’re away for 2 weeks then make sure people know who will be looking after them in your absence.

Always be Proactive

Don’t leave it to chance that a customer could go online and leave a bad review. Every time you deal with a client, ask if there is anything else you can do for them. If there is, then great, you’ve saved them from going elsewhere! If there isn’t, then ask them for feedback there and then; with more positive reviews the odd negative review then won’t have the same impact. It’s also a great way to ensure that you’re always doing everything you can to keep all of your customers happy.

And finally, always thank clients for giving you their business and make them feel like they’re your most important customer.

How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

How to Deal with Negative Online Business Reviews

negative online reviewsThanks to the success of sites such as Amazon, Ebay and Tripadvisor where consumers are encouraged to leave reviews of the experiences they received, more and more online platforms like Yelp, Google+ Local Business and Yell Local Business, have adopted the review process too. These reviews, whether you like it or not, mean more and more people have the opportunity to provide feedback, positive or negative, about your business letting others know exactly what they can expect before parting with their hard earned cash.

On the positive side, these review sites like Google+ Local can offer a helpful service to the general public and give small local businesses a chance to gain valuable word-of-mouth credibility that no ad money can buy. But this open platform also means any customer who was not 100% satisfied is provided with the means to slate your business, tarnishing yourreputation and ultimately affect sales.

The good news is that as a business owner you are not powerless to the wrath of unsatisfied customers. Actively monitoring and responding to any negative reviews before the problem has the opportunity to escalate can do wonders for the image of your business and leave future customers with a positive slant on what could have been a deal breaker for your business.

If you have received a review from a less than satisfied customer that is severely damaging your online reputation then follow these 5 steps that can correct and enhance your online reputation.

1) Regularly Review Your Profiles

At a minimum you should take a few minutes every week to review your online profiles. Sites like Google + local actually mine other sites and provide users with all your information in one place, sometimes from places you didn’t even know existed.

This exercise also acts as a great way to assess what people are saying about your business and identify any areas that could use some extra attention moving forward to improve the level of service the customer receives. Likewise you can take some time to see how your competition is fairing and if there is something that they are doing that is prompting a host of rave reviews then it might give you an idea as to your next marketing campaign.

Don’t wait for your friends or a loyal customer to let you know that somebody is slating your business online. Proactively monitor your online profiles and be the first to see it and the first to respond. Regularly interacting with users both positive and negative will show other people that you are genuinely interested and care about the service offered and received.

2) Assess the Nature of the Complaint

Some businesses dismiss negative reviews out of hand. Don’t. Take the time to assess each review and work back to see if there is any genuine reason that could have caused this issue to happen that could be rectified so that it does not happen again.

3) Respond directly to the complainant

If after assessing the complaint you realise there is something that you could do better, then respond to the complainant. Let them know you have the addressed the issue, say you are sorry and let them know what procedures you have put in place so the same experience does not happen again.

Go one step further give the person your personal number and say if there is anything your business can do moving forward then you would personally like to be the one to do that. The chances are the complainant will not respond but by extending the olive branch you are showing you are willing to go above and beyond to make a difference and that in fact the problem was more of a one off than a frequent occurrence.

4) Leave a Public Response

Once you have offered to rectify the situation personally, make it known to the wider public that you have addressed the issue and reached out the complainant to rectify the issue.

Your response is not to attack the reviewer it is merely to acknowledge the experience, thanking them for bringing the poor service to your attention, highlight what you have done to rectify the situation and demonstrating to everyone else that your business cares about customer service and its reputation and as such this will not happen again.

5) Try to Get More Reviews

Not everyone will be happy with your service and 100% positive feedback is almost unheard of. With this in mind, concentrate on getting as many positive reviews as possible. Rather than having 3 reviews, of which one is bad and two are good reviews, aim to get 10 or 20 positive reviews. That way when somebody experiences a service that is less than satisfactory, the bad review is diluted by all of the other positive reviews.

Put in place a system where your staff encourage customer feedback. Make it easy for the user to access a review site and leave a review, leverage QR codes, hand out review cards with a pen, ask patrons to sign on via their mobile phone leave a review and get a free Coffee or 10% off their next bill.

Whatever strategy you have in place to encourage and monitor reviews make sure that you follow through with it. Online reviews are becoming increasingly important. More and more people pay attention to what others have to say about a product and service before committing to a purchase and search engines are paying more and more attention to what is being said about your business when offering up niche related,local search results.