What is the point of reviews and ratings anyway? Their use has changed over time.
Originally, a rating or review was just that. Someone who bought a product or used a service could review it so that others had an idea of what they were getting into before they spent their money. Businesses could publicize their reviews, like the newspaper cutouts that line any Five Guys. Movie studios would put their ratings directly onto the poster to make sure everyone knew it was a 5-star movie.
As search engines became smarter, ratings and reviews became a part of a business’s rank in search. Ebay was especially notorious for this, where enough 4-star ratings could tank an entire online store.
More recently, ratings and reviews have taken on a new life: as content.
Review Revue is a podcast where comedy writers read customer reviews and create improv sketches about the reviews and the experiences they represent. Gus Johnson (3.3 million subscribers) has a series on his YouTube channel where he and his brothers and friends read reviews for local businesses and laugh about them. Many YouTube channels, like Cody Ko (3.35 million subscribers) and Danny Gonzalez (4.61 million subscribers) seek out Amazon reviews and add their own commentary and jokes on top. Whether or not company names and information are included in these videos is up to the content creator, but either way the products and services that are showcased are often sought out by viewers and listeners.
Content like this shows that your company’s e-reputation matters to more than just you and your customers; it also matters to content creators and their audiences. Whether or not your name is included in this kind of content, this provides a new opportunity to get your brand out there. And now, more than ever, it’s imperative to manage your e-reputation.
Easy ways to manage your e-reputation:
DO Encourage positive reviews. This is the easiest way to start. If you’ve had an enjoyable customer interaction, encourage those customers to leave a review. When I worked retail, our receipts had a link to a survey at the bottom. If we had a positive customer interaction, we’d finish off by showing them the link and writing our name next to it. If we had a negative interaction, we would simply hand the customer their receipt, maybe folding it so they don’t immediately see the survey. The opportunity to leave a review is always there, especially with third-party review services like Google Maps and Yelp. People who’ve had a bad experience are always more likely to leave reviews, so you’ll want to encourage people who could leave a positive review to do so.
DON’T Incentivize positive reviews. Recently, dropshipping influencers have found a new way to incentivize positive reviews: they used 5-star reviews as entries into a contest to win the product their fans were reviewing. You read that right: people were leaving 5-star reviews for a product that they didn’t have, in hopes that they’d get the product for free. There’s a similar practice across Amazon, where companies will offer a free product in exchange for a 5-star review. I recently bought a camera from Amazon and was offered a free battery charger if I left a 5-star review. These types of reviews are incredibly obvious to anyone who actually reads the reviews of a product or service before purchasing. While it may temporarily boost your search results, it’s overall harmful to your company and brand.
DO Respond to all your reviews in a timely manner. Responding to reviews and ratings is a great way to show your customers and potential customers that you’re engaged with them beyond just a transaction. Reviews are a great way to extend your customer service as well as clear up any misunderstandings. We offer the Mobilosoft platform in North America and Australia, where you can manage and respond to your reviews all in one place. Mobilosoft pulls reviews from the most commonly used listings, like Google Maps and Facebook and allows you to either respond, or triage reviews so that local managers can respond. Our research with Mobilosoft shows that simply answering reviews can even raise your rating.
DON’T Ignore comments that you don’t like. You should treat your online customer interactions just like your in-store customer interactions. Your e-reputation, after all, is an extension of your brand. If there are genuine customer issues, you can always address them. The Mobilosoft platform can triage comments so they can be responded to by local, in-store managers or by centralized brand managers. And if there are reviews that seem less than genuine, each platform has a way of reporting spam or fake reviews.
Not sure how to spot a fake review, check out our blog next week, when we deep dive into fake reviews, where they come from and how to deal with them.
Ironically, businesses with a full five-star rating often seem less than trustworthy; as if they’ve messed with their reviews or planted their own fake ones. Instead, a four-star (or even a three-star) rating may seem more trustworthy, especially if the negative reviews are descriptive and the company responds to them.
DO use canned answers for some reviews. If you’re a business that gets a lot of the same reviews, it can be tedious to respond to everyone. So canned answers (responses that are pre-written) can be a great way to reduce the amount of time you spend, while still showing your customers that you’re engaged with their feedback. Having a generic “thank you for recognizing our employee, we’ll pass the feedback on” for reviews that mention someone by name can go a long way. Mobilosoft offers canned responses that can be created and maintained centrally and then implemented across all your locations. This way, your responses can stay on brand, while catering to the specific kinds of feedback you receive. Of course, you can always go the extra mile when it comes to recognizing employees, but a form response to these kinds of reviews really shows appreciation to the customer.
DON’T use canned answers for every review. We’ve all seen those social media accounts that respond to every mention (positive or negative) with “please email our customer service for more information”. This is a great way to lose customers because it shows that the company is just not engaged with what their customers have to say. Instead, companies can take the time to identify common reviews they get and craft responses to those reviews. I used the example of staff compliments above, but even saying “we’ll look into your situation with [insert local branch], please DM us with more info” looks better than a generic response to everything.
Your e-reputation is incredibly important today. If you’d like to learn more about how you can manage your online presence more effectively (and faster) feel free to learn more about the Mobilosoft platform here. If you’re ready to get started, contact us today.