45 percent of customers say they’re more likely to visit businesses that respond to their reviewsOnline Reviews Survey
Businesses would do well to design every aspect of what they do and how they do it with the classic marketing mantra of customer retentions: “It costs far less to retain a happy client than it does to find a new client.”
Formulating your business strategy around customer satisfaction will, in the long run, increase the bottom line and reduce marketing spend. This will give your business far more flexibility for growth, added profitability, and improved organic online reputation.
“Market to the masses. Sell to those who come. Service the problems that follow.”
Review-Based Marketing Is on the Rise
Year after year, the percentage of new business leads that either originate or are validated through a review website continues to increase, and there is no evidence this trend will slow down anytime soon.
With over 80 percent of consumers checking reviews prior to a purchase or service engagement, your online reputation stands to become the keystone of your marketing strategy. With this in mind, every engagement on third-party review sites, whether proactive or not, will frame the type of customer experience your shoppers will come to expect.
With increased engagement, it is essential that your business makes a commitment to increase the investment of time and effort associated with the leveraging, monitoring, management and utilization of online customer reviews.
Defend Your Online Reputation by Aiming to Deliver Seamlessly Every Time
Seamless, review-worthy customer experiences are based on the ability to consistently exceed customer expectations by anticipating their needs and carefully executing delivery. With this understanding, it is indispensable that businesses focus first and foremost on setting clear customer expectations through their online and offline marketing.
Online reviews provide businesses with a diagnostic tool that will allow them to pinpoint problem areas and work on making changes that are meaningful to the experience of each customer that walks through the doors. Changes can take place through revising brand message or working on ensuring that you deliver your marketing promises through operational execution. Take a look at the Ritz Carlton way of delivering five-star service.
Fix Problems Before They Become Negative Reviews
There are multiple studies that point to poorly handled escalations as the key trigger for negative reviews. That is, customers will cut businesses some slack in terms of error, but won’t tolerate it when they complain and you or your team fail to provide a timely and satisfactory resolution.
The secret to ensuring customer issues don’t come back to bite you through a review that will blemish your online reputation for years to come is to empower and educate your team to be first-time problem solvers. The long-term impact of a negative review generally supersedes any expense associated with remediation. Cutting budgetary corners is never a good idea when making things right for your customers.
As you grow in familiarity with the most common issues likely to negatively impact the customer experience, work together with your team to ensure that there are guidelines in place designed to assist each team member when they are faced with having to handle a customer escalation on the spot. Keep in mind that guidelines are just that. Don’t make the mistake of imprisoning the decision-making process to one-size-fits-all guidelines. Teach your team members and leaders to exercise judgment and adjust remedy and compensation based on the specifics of each escalation. A number of studies associated to the metric of customer satisfaction point to employee empowerment as the key driver to achieve improvement.
Address Negative Reviews with a Promise of Customer Satisfaction
Here at ReviewTrackers, we have spent endless hours researching and teaching our partners best practices in online review management and customer engagement. Learning how to best handle each situation with a response and corresponding actions that are timely, fair, and fluid is essential to the success of any business.
Additionally, businesses would do well to always refer to their promise of customer satisfaction when responding to negative reviews. As much as possible, those tasked with responding to online reviews on popular review sites should directly refer to the business policies regarding customer satisfaction, and publicly communicate their intent to do whatever it takes to right a wrong.
By crafting a response that not only solves the problem but also places emphasis on how your organization strives to deliver customer satisfaction you are not only setting the stage for customer loyalty; you are also speaking to a wider audience of potential shoppers and boosting the credibility of your business organization.
Create a Cycle of Continuous Improvement
Negative reviews are a valuable asset that should never be dismissed. Through careful study and parsing of the feedback conveyed in negative reviews, businesses can begin to outline key areas of opportunity and create a functional CIP (Continual Improvement Process).
Negative online reviews, when based on a true business shortcoming, provide business leaders, owners, and managers with just the right type of information to accurately identify and eliminate suboptimal processes. In order to make a CIP functional, it is essential that business owners take a divide-and-conquer approach, and make small, measurable changes instead of attempting to reinvent the wheel each time customer friction is reported through negative online reviews. Small changes to processes and products, followed by careful tracking of how those changes impact or improve the customer experience, is the most effective offensive tactic in the area of reputation management.
Focusing on exceeding customer expectations is all about going back to the basics. Work toward creating cohesiveness between your people, processes, and products, making sure that all are tackled offensively and protected defensively, with the ongoing goal of an ever-improving online reputation that facilitates revenue growth. Be relentless in your approach and seek to improve from within while also conducting competitive analysis and working toward improving your positioning across all review sites.