How to improve my online reviews

Image courtesy: The Creative Exchange

At Balanced Media we get several inquiries per week from businesses, of all sizes, from sole traders providing energy performance certificates, to international wine merchants, to a property group with billions of pounds of property under management to name just a few. What all these wide ranging-businesses have in common is that they are concerned about the effect that poor online reviews are having on their business and reputation.

In order to improve their online reputations and reviews, our tips to all businesses boil down to the following:

 

Value the feedback

Seek, as dispassionately as possible, to consider the nature of the reviews being posted. For example, as an online merchant:

  • Are you seeing numerous reviews about items purchased not being as described?
  • Frustrations about contacting your Customer Services department?
  • Late deliveries? 
  • Problems with the processing of refunds?

Clearly, if the bulk of reviews relate any one of these or other quality or operational issues then; or if a range of bad reviews can be grouped together then there is direct customer feedback on areas of your business that require improvement. 

 

Don’t make it personal

Your business should commit to respond to all negative reviews in a constructive way with all genuine customers that leave bad reviews. Remember, your response is seeking to address the individual customer AND also communicate to prospective customers why they should still consider your offering, despite a review that raises some doubts. Aim for the following:

DO

  • Be sincere in addressing the points raised, perhaps with a genuine excuse as to why your service wasn’t as good as you or your customers would normally expect. For example:
      • If you were forced to cancel an appointment due to an emergency, say so. 
      • If your delivery driver has been recently dismissed for mishandling packages, then say so. 

The intention is that common sense should prevail and assure prospective customers that these things happen and the seller has been open and candid about them.

 

DO NOT

  • Reply with an angry response, dripping with rudeness, dismissal and sometimes swearing. (At Balanced Media we have seen too many examples of this!). These are real examples:
      • “Blah, blah, blah….as I said in my email, if you don’t like the product, then you know what you can do!”
      • “It’s a budget product, priced as such, we have other products in our range. The quality is what you can expect from a budget product!”

 

Seek to gather more reviews

Once, and only once you have either directly dealt with the customer feedback mentioned above, or at least committed to a plan of action to improve processes, should you seek more reviews. If the business is indeed ‘turning a corner’, then seek more reviews, as 90% of buyers seek recommendations from others.

You can gather more reviews by doing the following:

  • Simply asking recent customers to leave a review, perhaps have a link in your email or on your invoice to make it straightforward to leave their feedback.
  • Contacting previous customers to ask them to leave a review
  • Offer a prize draw to customers who leave a review

 

Final thought

According to Wikipedia, ‘a brand is, in essence, a promise to its customers of what they can expect from products and may include emotional as well as functional benefits.’ Online reviews are just one part of your online reputation, the management of which can significantly affect the performance of your business. Responding to online reviews is something most businesses can control themselves. Still, if you need more support, then contact Balanced Media for free advice. 

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