Not infrequently, they’re bane of a business owner’s existence.
Clients, patients, and customers can say whatever they want about your business, and it’s published online for the world to see.
I get it…reviews are a pain. People complain. They say mean things.
But here’s the thing…
They can actually be REALLY USEFUL for building your online presence — in a good way.
Even if they’re bad.
Even if they’re hard to read.
Because search engines LOVE reviews. They eat them like cereal for breakfast.
They love current reviews, and frequent reviews, and they love your timely responses to those reviews.
Why Are Online Reviews Useful?
Whether they’re on Google, Yelp, Facebook, your website, etc., reviews serve several purposes:
- They offer social proof to people reading about your business online. A Google My Business page with 100+ reviews will absolutely get more attention by customers than a page with 0.
- They make search engines happy. Google wants to be assured that when they show your page to a searcher, that your page is relevant, current and active. The more frequent reviews you have, the more search engines get the message that you’re in business. It’s like holding up a big poster board to Google saying “I’m here! People use my business! I’m hip and happening!”
- They give you a chance to showcase your business’s brand voice. When you receive a poor review, hop on the chance to show the world your character with your response. Most of the time, people reading a bad review will read the business’s response if it’s public. You can use that to your advantage and show readers your personality with your response to negativity.
- They help serve your audience with up-to-date information. You may get a positive review from someone talking about a new service you’ve added. Or, you can correct someone’s misunderstanding by posting about changes you’ve recently made to your operations. For instance, “Yes, we heard that from several customers, so we’ve made changes to our services!”
Managing Your Online Reviews
So now that you know WHY they’re useful, I’m going to bring it back down to reality for a second…
It’s hard to manage online reviews.
There are a ton of review sites to keep track of if you’re going to stay on top of responding to the good, the bad and the ugly ON ALL OF THEM.
And, it can be hard to write a level-headed response in the moment. You know, when someone has just torn your business to shreds.
And you’re angry-typing what you really want to say.
And then you delete it.
And then re-type it. And delete it. And re-type again…
So, I have some tips for you to manage your online reviews like a boss.
This means preparing for negative reviews, encouraging positive reviews (we all definitely want MORE of those), and staying on top of what’s being said about your business online.
3 Tips for Managing Your Online Reviews
1. Build Your Response Vault
The best way to avoid an emotional response? Not being emotional at all.
When someone has just unleashed a slurry of negativity toward your business online, it feels like someone’s picking on your kid at the playground.
You want to defend your team. You want to name-call back. You want to discount their opinions. You probably want to LET THEM HAVE IT!
And while we’re thinking of all the things we really want to say to those people who bash our businesses online, deep in our hearts, we know it’s not a good idea.
(It’s really not, in case you’re wondering. You’re much better off playing cool and taking the high road.)
So instead of battling that devil on your shoulder while you’re typing a response, I recommend having a repository of review responses ready to go.
Just copy and paste from the vault. Done.
How to get started?
Make a list of 8-10 top things your customers complain about online. Look at your actual reviews if you need inspiration!
- For a restaurant, it might be long wait times, cold food, slow service, prices…
- For a retail store, it might be customer service, hours, selection, staffing…
- For a physician, it might be waiting room times, phone support, parking, availability…
Then, write your responses in a level-headed, empathetic, and totally steady state of mind.
Think about how you want to consistently come across in your reviews.
How can you use it as an opportunity to share what your business is truly doing well?
How can you apologize (if the review is legit), or explain what you’re doing about a certain issue while staying on-brand?
2. Reply to Positive Reviews, Too
This one might be a little selfish on my part, but I believe in it…
I want us all to be a part of a greater cultural shift toward positive reviews online!
Rather than ONLY rewarding negative behavior with attention or refunds, reward positive behavior by thanking those who put in the effort.
Most people who have had a positive experience with your business won’t post about it online. For those who do, a ‘thank you’ is certainly in order.
They’ve gone above and beyond to sing your praises, and giving them your attention with a simple “Thank you for coming in!” or “So happy you are enjoying X, Y, Z!” makes a big difference.
Take the time, reply to helpful reviews, and be a part of a bigger shift toward using reviews for good instead of evil.
There, I’ve said my piece.
3. Use a Review Monitoring Tool
If you’re REALLY going to stay on top of actively monitoring your online reviews (and you should), it takes work.
The list of websites where customers/patients/clients can leave reviews is massive and growing all the time.
Google, Yelp, Trip Advisor, WebMD, Angie’s List, Facebook, etc., etc., etc…
So I recommend using a review monitoring tool to access your reviews all in one place.
There are several good ones, and I believe they are oh-so worth your time.
My personal favorites: SinglePlatform and BrightLocal.
There’s also Podium, Reputation.com, BirdEye and more.
Some let you respond from a single dashboard, while others send email alerts when a review has been left on one of your business’s profile pages.
Whatever you have the time/budget/resources for, I highly recommend letting one of these tools do the work of monitoring your online reputation for you.
Manage Your Online Reviews Like A Pro
If you want to take the reins when it comes to managing your online reputation, but not spend your valuable time each day hopping around to all your review sites, put these tips into action.
Get a monitoring tool, respond to the good and the bad, and do it with a clear head.
This is how successful businesses manage online reviews, while putting the tasky to-dos on auto-pilot.
So write your templates, reply with ‘thank yous,’ and start looking at a monitoring software to do the work of tracking your reviews for you.
In no time, you’ll be rocking your online reputation like the pros.