I know most people are skeptical about Yelp, Google My Business, TripAdvisor and other review sites, and none more skeptical than a business owner with a bad review posted on one of these sites. “It’s probably one of my competitors, posting a false review.” Whether it is your evil competitor trying to take you down or your newest fan raving about you, these sites cannot be ignored.
While Google is still the review site of choice for most consumers (63% of consumers say they check Google first), there are also over 178 million monthly users on Yelp, 260 million users posting reviews on TripAdvisor, and 2.23 BILLION active users on Facebook, (as of June 2018) all itching to have their voices heard.
Companies have to be monitoring their brands and make time to engage and reply to these active reviewers. Now before you start whining about the good old days before all of these social sites and consumer review sites, stop! Times and tools have changed. Consumers have a voice and now the tools to tell the world about you–good and bad. Let’s focus on what you can do to maximize this power. With a little attention to these reviewers, you can turn a bad experience around and build loyalty, and on good reviews you can boost the love and create a viral spread.
Here are some tips you need to use today:
1. Claim and Manage Your Business’s Review Sites.
I still hear people saying they don’t want reviews because they fear the negative reviews will hurt their business. First of all, if you think there will be more negative than positive reviews, perhaps it’s time to do some training within your team. Second, people are going to talk about you whether you “allow” them to or not. The question is, will you be part of the conversation? According to Review Trackers, who looked at 9 million online reviews, they found more people are leaving positive reviews than negative and most consumers say they want to see what other people say about a brand before they decide to do business there.
On Google My Business, be sure to claim and get your website verified so you can reply to comments left by your customers. On Facebook, you want to be sure you own and manage your business page so you can do the same. If you search for your business on Yelp (or any of these sites) and you see “IS THIS YOUR BUSINESS?” or “CLAIM THIS BUSINESS” do the work and gt it validated so you control it.
2. Reply to comments and social reviews quickly
When someone takes the time to write any comment about your business, they are giving you a gift. Don’t leave that gift unacknowledged. Make sure you have notifications turned on for comments on your website and that you either check once or twice a day all of your social channels or turn those notifications on as well so you don’t miss comments there.
There is nothing worse than leaving a question or comment and never hearing back. Whether you receive a great compliment or a horrible review, be sure to thank the person for taking the time to provide you with feedback. One thing I learned from raising my 4 children is, what you recognize or reward will be repeated. Thank people for bringing you the feedback.
3. Apologize… SINCERELY!
Again, something I learned from my kids during those teenaged years; an apology that starts with SOR-RY and includes BUT… is not an apology. It is an excuse.
I had the opportunity to sit with a woman in a cable company call center, Mary Delgado, who was the escalation desk for the vilest of customers. She took call after call from people who were cussing at her, screaming into their phones (over cable TV, no less). Mary would listen without interrupting and then her first response would be, “Oh my goodness. I am so sorry you have had to go through this. This should NOT have happened. I am going to get this taken care of.” It was so classic. You could almost see the person on the end of the line squirming as they tried to come up with another comeback. Their anger couldn’t compete with her willingness to own the problem and seek a resolution. Sometimes all a wronged customer wants is to be heard and to hear a sincere apology.
4. Do NOT delete the comment
Show, in public, how you are going to make things right or at least ensure it doesn’t happen again. Most review sites don’t allow you to delete a review, but Facebook does if the comment is left on the page and not in the review area. I have seen companies delete negative reviews, thinking the person will just quietly go away. If you delete an angry comment on your site, the customer will take it to a public space where you have no control and it WILL. GET. UGLY!
I am shocked to see review sites where a company either denies that the problem happened, basically calling the customer a lier (Most classic is the Blue Sky Hostel owner in Glasgow who calls the customer “a blind, fat, retard.” The firestorm of comments back and forth between the owner, the angry customer and everyone else who chimed in for entertainment was better than any reality show available on any television network.
You can find the Buzzfeed post here with screenshots. Which is another reason why you should never delete a negative comment–the person has most likely taken screenshots in case they need to go to the public.
So what can you do about it? If it is something you need to investigate to find out if it is true, you can HIDE a comment on Facebook, but on any site, you should contact the person who posted the review and ask them to contact you via private message to resolve the issue. When they don’t respond, you can assume the person isn’t looking for a resolution. Whether it’s a negative review, an old embarrassing photo of yourself, or anything that shows up on the web that you wish would just go away, the one thing you CAN do is put out lots of good content that is attached to your brand, to push those old reviews down. It will take time, but it works.
5. Ask for reviews and recommendations on your social media sites regularly.
When a delighted customer tells you they had great service or loves your product, immediately ask if they would mind writing a review for you on one of your social sites like Google, Yelp or Facebook. Let them know how it helps your business and then thank them.
Talk to your team and remind them to think digital-first and get those recommendations in video, on social sites or anywhere else that the world can see.
Aim to get these recommendations on a regular basis. It doesn’t help to have 10 reviews all at once in 2014 and nothing since. This tells consumers (and Google) that you got friends and family members to review your business when you opened the door but no one has reviewed it since. Make a point to ask people on an ongoing basis 2-5 a month or 1-2 a week depending on how busy you are.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you left reviews on a social review site? Do you expect a response? How do you feel if you get one?
If you need help keeping up with all of the responses and connecting with your social audience, contact us today.…it’s what we do!