The Proof is in the Reviews – Why Customer Reviews and Reputation Management is Critical for your Business

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The use of social media by Americans and other countries throughout the world continues to be on the rise. Presently, there are an estimated 3.5 billion people that have at least one social media account – that’s 45% of the world’s total population! Not only that, but these social-savvy customers spend over two hours online per day, engaging with their social accounts. And today’s businesses are quickly taking to the social channels, with 90% of companies engaging with at least one social platform as part of their efforts to grow their brand awareness.

While businesses are evolving their marketing strategies to include social media content, they often forget the significance of customer reviews tied to their business and products. Today’s customers are far more educated on companies than they were in the past. They can quickly take to a social channel to look at a company and seek the information they need. Not only that, but customers are far more likely to make a purchase of a product when they know that other customers have been satisfied with their purchase. And this applies to both B2B and B2C companies. It is estimated that over 65% of consumers rely on online reviews before proceeding with a transaction and 57% use social media networks for recommendations. If you are not seeking out reviews from your current customer base, you are missing out on a huge marketing opportunity. Here is how to make an impact on your social media with reviews.

What is reputation management?

So then, what exactly is reputation management, and how do customer reviews tie in? Reputation management is best defined as the practice of strategically shaping public perception about your business by influencing online information. As part of reputation management, social media listening is employed to take notice of what is being said about the organization online. While reputation management is somewhat shaped by what the company says about itself, and the content it puts out into the market (such as thought leadership inclusive of blogs, whitepapers, online case studies, and more), it is more often influenced by customers that have taken to the internet to say something about your company.

 In recent years, social media listening has become a vital customer intelligence tool. There are several strategies for using social media to gain insight, including paying attention to online customer support forums, deploying software tools to gather comments from social outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and enticing customers to provide their recommendations and suggestions for new product features.

The significance of online reviews

Because so many customers are influenced by what other customers have to say, it is essential that businesses not only encourage customers to leave their reviews but that they also take action based on what their customers are saying. Customers like to know that they are heard, so companies that take on the task of responding to those customers for what they say will be recognized by others as a company that actually listens to and cares about their customers.

So, for example, if the customer of a hair salon goes to that salon’s Facebook site and then leaves a 5-star review and shares how much they love their new haircut, and the company actually takes the time to thank the customer in a follow-on post, this can go a long way. In fact, responding to positive comments is just as important as responding to negative or constructive comments. To that end, if a customer leaves you a poor comment, this provides your business with some critical intelligence. Not only should you take the opportunity to address the customer’s concern with an apology, but this offers a chance for you to welcome the customer back (in the case of a B2C business), or for you to conduct some investigation on your end to determine what happened.

It is believed that consumers are likely to spend an incremental 31% more on products and services from companies that have positive online reviews. Conversely, a negative review, especially one that is not addressed by the company, can drive away up to 40% of potential customers. Reviews on businesses can have a serious positive impact.

  • Increased likelihood that a customer will spend more money with you
  • Increased revenue
  • Increase in customer trust

Online reputation management needs to take a front seat in your marketing strategy

Since reviews and social listening are so crucial for your business, it is vital that online reputation management takes a front seat in your marketing strategy and tactics. A great place to start is by increasing the likelihood that customers will leave a review, especially a positive one.

Make it easy for your customers to leave a review, regardless of the type of business you are in. If you are a B2C company that provides receipts, add a note to the end of each receipt encouraging your customers to leave a review. And, consider a reward if they do so. Perhaps offer a slight discount on their next purchase if they show you their recent review.

Hire or assign a social media moderator that is responsible for managing customer responses on your various social media channels. That person should be accountable not only for real-time responses (ideally, your company should publicly respond to reviews within 24 hours), but should also be making a note of the various types of reviews, and placing key information in a dashboard that can be reviewed with the leadership team. By paying attention to the types of reviews your company is receiving, your company can better understand if there is a customer service challenge or a product enhancement that might need to be addressed. And, if there is something that your customers love, that might mean there is something that you should not change, or should continue to promote. If you see a particular theme that keeps coming up over and over, this might mean that you need to make a public statement. Many companies deploy the use of press releases or even their blog channel to address customer concerns and to indicate what they are going to do to address those concerns. Public acknowledgment of a channel can help your company to be more authentic and transparent, and this means a lot to today’s customers.

Many companies also choose to partner with 3rd party reputation management vendors such as Shop Style Design that can provide strategies and methodologies to help companies both manage and improve their online reputations. By partnering with a 3rd party, you can allow your staff to focus on what they do best, and leave it to a qualified partner to do what they do best, and help your company receive the positive feedback and online presence that they deserve.

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