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Online Review Management: Strategy for Review Sites & Social Media

An example of an online review in the Google Maps app on a smartphone

What do customers say about your brand on review sites and social media? Here’s everything you need to know about online review management.

As the number of people connected online continues to rise, reviews shared to review sites and social media have quickly become today’s word of mouth — making online review management more important than ever.

When a consumer’s favorite athleisure brand offers to fix year-old running shorts at no cost, they’ll likely thank them on Twitter with enthusiasm. But you can also be sure they’re sharing on Tripadvisor when they get back from Hawaii to see they’ve been overcharged for their stay and had to call over 5 times just to get a refund request form.

According to a report from Search Engine Journal, 99.9% of consumers read reviews when shopping online. And 96% of them are particularly interested in negative reviews.

When it comes to review sites and social media, there’s no denying the need to monitor and manage both the good and the bad.

What is Online Review Management?

Online review management refers to monitoring and responding to customer feedback across platforms such as Google, Yelp, Facebook, and many others.

Consumers use each platform to share their experiences with a brand, and their online reviews can be seen by friends, family, and strangers interested in the same brand and its offerings.

As a practice, online review management entails aggressively searching for reviews, responding to them effectively, and using the feedback in comments to enhance products or services.

How Online Reviews Influence Consumers & Impact a Business

In the digital-first environment, online reviews significantly affect a company’s reputation — and even its profitability.

Reviews shared online influence the perception prospective buyers have of a brand before they experience its products or services for themselves. 86% of consumers will hesitate to do business with a brand if negative online reviews are plentiful. Fewer customers mean fewer sales opportunities, a direct blow to revenue.

Online reviews also impact rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) as Google accounts for reviews when ranking companies. As such, the better the reviews you get, the more visible your brand will be to potential customers.

Most Important Steps to Manage Online Reviews

Knowing what customers are saying in public is a large part of online review management, so it’s important to take action with online reviews as an integral part of customer experience (CX) and digital experience (DX).

But it’s also more than keeping tabs on the words and phrases customers use. Online review management is also about the action you can take to shape sentiments, reducing the number of negative reviews and increasing the number of positive reviews.

Here are the steps to take to manage online reviews.

#1. Monitor your online reviews regularly

Online reviews appear at a rapid pace, both for small businesses and massive enterprises. Customers love taking their opinions to virtual town squares, and that’s why companies of any size need to prioritize online review management.

You need to monitor these reviews constantly to have a pulse on what consumers say about your brand and its products or services. Sure, it’s easier said than done. But that’s why customer experience management (CEM) software exists, and some review sites and social media platforms will offer notifications for each review that’s submitted.

Considering using notifications to be alerted of new reviews. You can also leverage text analytics to monitor the words and phrases, understanding the sentiment behind the feedback. Doing so helps uncover trends and provides opportunities to increase customer satisfaction (CSAT).

#2. Respond promptly to all reviews

Tracking reviews is only beneficial if you also respond to them. Responding to online reviews shows customers — both existing and prospective — that your brand values their comments and aims solve problems.

Ensure you respond to favorable and unfavorable reviews. Responding to positive reviews builds customer loyalty and a strong reputation. And responding to negative reviews helps a business resolve customer concerns, showing a true dedication to customer happiness.

#3. Address negative reviews constructively

Negative reviews can be difficult for businesses to handle, but they offer a chance to improve customer service. Take them as a chance to demonstrate your dedication to customer happiness by responding to unfavorable reviews constructively.

When responding to positive reviews, do so empathetically and apologize for any bad experience. You should also consider a remedy that would turn things around. Taking a defensive or aggressive approach that pins the blame on the customer just puts your brand at risk of turning off future customers.

When an angry customer decides to blast your brand, it should be obvious that returning the favor is an awful idea.

#4. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews

Struggling to earn online reviews? Happy customers are your greatest asset. If you typically collect feedback with customer surveys, incorporate an option in those surveys encouraging customers to submit a review.

You can also do this through your company website, emails, and social media with review sites integrated with the channels used.

Keep in mind, though, that review sites prohibit compensating clients for positive reviews. But you can increase the likelihood of satisfied clients giving positive reviews by recognizing and appreciating them through promotional discounts or prize draws.

#5. Engage with customers and show appreciation for feedback

Understanding what customers love (and their pain points) throughout the customer journey is essential to review management. However, it’s not just about that. As a brand, you need to actively engage with customers and one method is by responding to their reviews.

Doing so demonstrates your dedication to the brand-customer relationship.

You can also create engagement opportunities by soliciting customer feedback and ideas outside of key moments like a purchase or interaction with the contact center. Run email surveys or social media polls asking for feedback regularly. It invites customers to share their opinions even if they’re not actively shopping.

Lastly, thank customers for their reviews and highlight favorable feedback on a company website or social media. It demonstrates a brand’s customer-centric mindset.

Leverage Online Reviews to Improve Your Business

While good businesses manage online reviews, the best businesses take it one step further and leverage reviews for the better. As you’d expect, positive reviews significantly boost a business by building its reputation and attracting new clients.

Here are some of the ways you can use reviews to boost a business’ reputation online.

#1. Identify patterns and trends in feedback

Reviews may seem random and unrelated on the surface, but that’s rarely ever the case. When evaluating reviews closely, you’ll notice underlying themes.

Uncovering patterns and trends in feedback is the secret to getting the most out of online reviews to improve a business.

If consumers frequently highlight a specific feature’s usefulness, you’re likely next step is to promote it front and center in marketing materials. You can also draw inspiration from online reviews targeting your agents for falling short of customer service expectations regularly, using negative feedback for coaching and training.

Words and phrases are one thing, but the deeper meaning behind online reviews is what businesses really need to know.

#2. Use feedback to improve products and services

Online reviews are beneficial for product development. As customers share the features they enjoy and the ones that aren’t very intuitive, you’re able to focus on those areas to improve products and services.

If you do this consistently, CSAT will increase and, along with it, your revenues and market share.

#3. Respond to feedback and show customers you are listening

Consumers look beyond the products and services you offer to decide whether or not to buy from you. Now, they prefer brands that know what they want, need, and expect based on their preferences. Personalization is everything today.

As such, responding to customer feedback is vital. It helps build trust and shows customers that your brand appreciates their thoughts.

#4. Use positive feedback in marketing materials

Considering that most consumers look for online reviews prior to making a purchase, make it easier for them to find positive reviews. Incorporating your best reviews in your marketing materials is an easy way of achieving this.

Initiatives highlighting positive reviews on a website or in a mobile application show potential clients that your company is reliable and offers high-quality experiences.

#5. Address negative feedback internally and make improvements

Regardless of how good your company is, it will receive negative reviews. When this happens, take it as an opportunity to improve. So, take them seriously and examine them internally to determine if there are notable concerns to address.

For this to yield desired results consistently, foster open communication between employees on the front lines and customers. In addition, implement a feedback collection and analysis system and build a culture where workers feel comfortable giving management input.

#6. Monitor competitors’ reviews to stay ahead

You’re competing with several rivals for the same audience, so your brand’s success in the market is not just about what you do but also what competitors are doing.

Monitor your competitors’ online reviews because it’ll reveal weaknesses and opportunities to stand out in front of them. Where you find they’re being praised, figure out if there’s something you can do better. Conversely, if there are criticisms, evaluate your products or services against them to know if you need improvement.

Recover from Negative Reviews: What to Do Using Online Review Management

Responding to negative online reviews is not an easy task, and you can’t escape it. But with a mindset to delight customers no matter what, you’ll cultivate a customer base coming back for repeat purchases and referring their peers.

As you respond to negative reviews online, here’s what you need to remember:

  • Always take the high road: Knee-jerk reactions and pointing fingers don’t help, so treat the customer as if they are right even if deep down you feel they are wrong.
  • Be transparent: Customers see right through lies, and they respect a truthful explanation.
  • Take the issue offline: Exchanging messages in a public forum makes it easy for existing and potential customers to scrutinize what’s gone wrong, so try to move to an email or live chat as soon as possible.
  • Learn from every review: Something about an experience with your brand and its products or services motivated the customer to leave a review; think about that and take action on what they said.
  • Have methods in place to prevent negative reviews: Your best chance at preventing negative reviews to begin with is by offering exemplary customer experience.

You’ll find that, over time, the volume of negative reviews decreases and the positive reviews take center stage.

Make Online Review Management Easy

Beyond empowering the agents on the front lines to systematically close the loop with customers, having all types of customer feedback in one platform provides actionable insights.

Here’s what to look for in a customer experience management platform that can analyze online reviews:

  • Sentiment Analysis: The sentiment analysis function employs machine learning to automatically assess customer evaluations’ tone and sentiment, helping you spot negative comments and respond properly.
  • Case Management: Our case management function helps businesses respond to unfavorable reviews quickly and efficiently.
  • Action Planning: Medallia lets businesses design and monitor action plans to address negative feedback and improve their goods and services.
  • Feedback Surveys: Our real-time feedback surveys help businesses uncover and handle negative comments before it becomes unfavorable reviews.
  • Social Listening: Medallia’s social listening function helps businesses spot unfavorable reviews and respond quickly by monitoring and analyzing social media channels for brand references.
  • Reputation Management: The reputation management function helps businesses handle bad reviews and enhance their reputation across several review sites.

Companies such as Best Western have seen staggering results from frontline engagement: Properties that actively engage online outperform properties that don’t. In fact, compared to properties that haven’t embraced social media, socially engaged properties score 30% higher on Tripadvisor and generate 64% more reviews.

Now you understand just how critical online reviews and online review management are to a business — and it’s only going to get more important. Request a demo today, and you’ll get to see exactly what Medallia can accomplish for you.