Managing Social Media Reviews

They’ve changed the game. Positive and negative online reviews about your company have a huge impact on how others see your business. reports that 81% of consumers do online research before making a purchase. Business owners may not like the fact that reviews on places like Yelp can make or break new customer acquisition, but it is the reality of today’s business world.

Here are several tips on managing the reviews people post on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yelp and all the other platforms where it is so easy to share shopping experiences:

First, respond very quickly to all online reviews. Although proper responses to negative reviews are the most important, it’s also very good policy to comment when a satisfied customer takes the time to share their experience. Thanking customers for their positive comments shows that you appreciate them, and influences others to also share.

Online reviews can have a huge influence on customers. Managing them correctly offers an opportunity to grow your customer base and make online marketing work.

Negative reviews must receive immediate attention and responses. Start by responding on line that you appreciate their input and the opportunity to learn about their frustration. State that you will be looking into what happened and that you will follow up very quickly. By doing this, you have shown that you have seen their complaint and take it seriously. At that point, try contacting them directly by phone (since they are likely to be in your database) to discuss the problem. Often, unhappy customers just want to be heard. If someone feels as though they are being listened to and offered a reasonable solution, they will often retract the negative review. Many times they will even replace it with a positive comment about your response.

What should you do if you cannot reach this person, or if they fail to retract the negative review? In that case, you’ll need to respond publicly and express honest concern, with an apology. Studies show that unhappy customers are more influenced by sincere apologies than monetary compensation. So what constitutes a proper apology? Most of all, you have to “own” the mistake. Everyone makes them, and good businesses see complaints as an opportunity to improve their performance. Never make excuses- even if you have a good one. Take responsibility for the mistake and promise to improve because of it. State what improvements will be made to be sure something like this is much less likely to happen again. That’s all it takes. Any reasonable person will understand that mistakes happen and you are willing to learn from them.

Because you are busy and there are so many platforms for reviews, it’s important to set up a service like Google Alerts, a free program that notifies you of any social media postings using the name of your business. This service allows you to react quickly. Another very effective way of channeling customer complaints away from social media platforms is to publicize a way for customers to contact you directly about any problems or issues they have. Giving customers a clear and direct path to be heard offers them a chance to speak to the person who can fix their problem. Companies who promote this type of service, have a much greater chance of handling and fixing problems before they are made public. Some consultants believe that soliciting positive reviews is not a good tactic. Platforms like Yelp will filter comments from those who have not posted to Yelp before or if they believe the comment is contrived. I believe that asking happy customers to post their feelings about your service is important. The more positive comments you have, the more likely it is that new customers will try your service. It’s a bit of a war to attract new customers and we all have to be proactive. For example, Yelp will also advertise your competitors right on your Yelp page if those competitors pay Yelp an advertising fee. This seems like unfair tactics. If these social media platforms use their power to direct customers away from nonpaying businesses, then aggressive measures need to be taken to get as many favorable reviews as possible.

Proactive companies go beyond solving customer problems as they occur. Minimizing mistakes requires an ongoing analysis of where breakdowns happened in the production of projects. Was it something like mismeasurement during the sale of the design? Was the problem incorrect production techniques? Did a lack of communication cause a misunderstanding? Documenting each and every mistake and classifying them by type is essential to minimizing future problems. Because of social media platforms, mistakes are easily amplified, made public and remain as public record. The best defense for this is regular examination of how mistakes happened and changing policies and procedures so that they are less likely to reoccur.

Here is why it is so important to your business. Let’s say that your average custom framing sale is $250, and your average customer frames 3 projects per year. That means the average customer is worth $750 in sales to your company per year. Now, if you average 10 new customers per month or 120 per year, new customers bring $90,000 in sales each year. The study from showed that 81% of all new customers read the reviews, so in this example 8 new customers per month will research your online reviews. If you have unaddressed negative reviews and very few positive ones, it’s not unreasonable to assume that 50% of potential customers will find a competitor with a better online presence. That could mean that you could be losing four customers each month, or 48 per year. That would cost you $36,000 in sales! Definitely this would have a huge impact on your business. Conversely, if you had a great, well managed online presence, you could be picking up several new customers per month- with the average value of $750 in sales to your company.

It’s obvious that online reviews are here to stay. It’s also obvious that they can have a huge influence on potential customers. Managing online reviews and adopting the attitude that even negative reviews are opportunities to grow your customer base is essential to making this type of marketing work for you.

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