45 percent of customers say they’re more likely to visit businesses that respond to their reviewsOnline Reviews Survey
So you have a reputation management strategy … or at least you think you do. It’s not infrequent that we meet business leaders who are full of pep and have tried to grab the bull by the horns by being proactive and engaging on popular review sites, but somehow they have managed to miss the target. Their key metrics are still flat or declining, and lead generation from review sites like Yelp, Google+, Facebook, and Insider Pages is virtually non-existent.
If that’s the boat you are on, then we are glad you are here, and we are ready to help you assess and fix the direction of your reputation and customer experience strategy. Let’s take a look at the most prevalent reputation management faux pas and the smartest ways to fix them.
Claiming Your Profiles Is Not Enough – Brand Them, Too
Many novice reputation managers fall in the trap of tying to do too much too fast. They are quick to take ownership of their profiles on the most relevant customer review sites such as Yelp, Insider Pages, Google+ Local, and every other national or local directory they can find.
The problem that we often see is that in the rush to take over all their profiles, they often fail to do a good job developing content and multimedia that’s sales-conducive, brand-aligned, and reflective of the quality and offerings of their venue.
In fact, many small businesses don’t even take the time to make sure basic information, such as their current hours of operation, is posted on their profile, triggering customer frustration that may even result in negative feedback. If this is you, then take time to pause and reset. Go back, one by one, to every single online profile and make sure your content is accurate, appealing, and conducive to engagement. If appropriate, upgrade your videos and photos to professionally captured multimedia (budget permitting). It just takes one bad food photo to drive someone away, even when your customer reviews are nothing but raves about excellent cuisine. Make sure you include a logo to reinforce brand familiarity. For those of you who are managing your individual professional reputation (doctors, attorneys, and other professionals), make sure your profile contains a high-quality photo aimed at increased familiarity and trust.
Your Review Engagement Is Sporadic and Selective
We are always shocked to see the number of small businesses where review responses are not consistent. Customer engagement should never be taken as a game of craps. If someone took the time to provide a review of your business, then he or she certainly deserves acknowledgement and, when applicable, action that leads to a resolution.
Instead of responding to reviews when you have time, make time to respond to reviews, and implement changes based on customer feedback on a regular basis. Review profiles with consistent engagement always convert better than those with a here-and-there approach. Consider going back at least ninety days and engaging with relevant reviews through thoughtful review responses. From then on, move forward with a more consistent approach to review monitoring and management.
Your Review Responses Are Repetitive, Careless, or Impersonal
Don’t fall into the trap of habit. Way too often, businesses assume that a template response is good enough. Not only is a template response bad, but it is also impolite. When engaging with your customers, you need to make sure your review responses meet basic criteria.
First, work on responses that truly acknowledge each customer at a personal level, demonstrating that you have read their review. Secondly, seek to provide responses that are content-rich, and not only helpful to the reviewer but also informational for those using reviews and review responses to help them decide whether to patronage your business. Finally, make sure your responses are well-written, addressing basics like grammar but also taking into account branding and messaging. If you are presently engaged in copy-and-paste brand reputation management, then it is time to go back to the drawing board and work on crafting responses that matter.
You Provide Excuses, Not Solutions
When you are a business owner, it is very tempting to take things personally. There is nothing wrong with taking things personally as long as you do it in a constructive and customer-focused fashion.
A common mistake that can significantly damage your reputation relates to providing review responses that make excuses instead of fixing things. Go back and take a look at the tone and intent of your review responses. If you notice defensiveness and excuse-making, then it is time to change your tune. Work on showing your reviewers and potential shoppers that you are willing to go the extra mile to right wrongs and you are not afraid of making constructive changes.
Your Image Needs a Makeover: Go from Amateur to Professional
When it comes to multimedia, sheer enthusiasm is just not enough. Many businesses eager to promote and engage decide to be their own photographer.
In some instances, with a bit of luck, some Photoshopping, and a good filter, they may just get it right; but most of the time, amateur photography has amateur results. Have someone outside your organization take a look at your multimedia and give you honest feedback. A bad image can sometimes be more damaging than no image at all. When it comes to multimedia, sometimes it is better to start from zero and set a budget aside to hire a professional. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.
You Are Not Using Free Arsenal Available to Win the Reputation Battle
Just because you are a registered user of a review site, it does not make you an active user. Review sites are eager to work with and for you to make you succeed. Failure to use the tools and features available to you through third-party review sites may be hurting your reputation and customer experience strategy far more than you know. If you are not familiar with the feature set of free and paid tools offered by the most relevant review sites, then it is time to do your homework and revisit all that each site can do for your business. While you don’t have to use every tool available, it is smart to learn about them and at least give them a try. You might be surprised and delighted with outstanding results at minimal cost. (Check out our TripAdvisor Review Express guide.)
If you feel like you are not getting ahead with your reputation management and customer experience strategy, take time to evaluate your moves and make revisions as needed. When done well, this will be one of your best and most affordable marketing allies.