Do better communication practices bring better relationships? At G5, we think so. Encouraging customers to share feedback on social media sites, and interacting with that feedback—whether positive or negative—helps improve customer experience and creates a positive impression of your brand.
In a world where everyone can share opinions on their handheld devices, it’s important for your company to create and implement a comprehensive review strategy, from identifying top review platforms to receiving and responding to feedback. This is a process that you want to take seriously, set up clearly, monitor consistently, and respond to thoroughly. Feedback shouldn’t make our jobs harder—it should allow us to work smarter, for the benefit of our customers as well as our organization. But to encourage, monitor, and respond to customer feedback takes skill and a proactive approach. Follow these 3 easy steps to do it well.
Step One: Create a review strategy.
A review strategy and implementation plan is imperative to create clear communications between your customers and your company. Review sites allow potential and current customers to share their experiences and provide an outlet to rant or rave. These online resources give prospects more knowledge than ever about whether or not to do business with you. A well-established (and implemented) review strategy helps map outcomes and increase rankings, conversions, and referrals. Initially, ask yourself: What are we trying to accomplish? What information would be helpful to know, and how much and how often should we ask?
Step Two: Identify your review sources.
Understanding the top review sources and working to optimize them will ensure that your prospects have a positive first impression of your organization.
At G5, the top review sources that we consider are: Google+Local, Yelp, and Facebook. Every industry has additional review sites specific to them. G5 recommends identifying the top two to three review sites for your industry, then optimizing them by increasing the number of positive reviews on each.
How to do this? First, ask yourself how many new reviews your organization needs each month in order to stay competitive. Then, identify and reach out to your happiest customers for their feedback and testimonials—those customers are almost always motivated to share their positive experiences. This process of soliciting feedback should be proactive and ongoing, and success can be measured by how effectively you reach your target monthly number of new reviews.
Step Three: Respond and collaborate.
You spent the time to create a review strategy, and now’s the time to use it to its fullest potential. Whether positive or critical, respond to all the comments you can. Doing so shows that your company values feedback, lets the customer know you are listening and, if need be, willing to troubleshoot issues that have not been resolved. It also encourages future positive behavior. No one likes to call a company and speak to a pre-recorded answering machine—customers want a personalized response. And the more you monitor and respond, the more your company knows where it can do better, make those adjustments, and improve customer care and experience.
Here are 3 great ways to respond to comments:
- Thank reviewers for their feedback.
- Acknowledge negative reviews in a professional and appreciative tone, and offer solutions, if appropriate.
- If a solution to a problem is in the process of being solved, briefly outline the solution and timeline. In extreme cases, take the response offline by contacting the reviewer and continuing a solutions-based conversation in person.
Try not to sort feedback into “good” and “bad” categories—this perspective can limit the growth potential of your company. Instead, rely on your review strategy to guide feedback, taking time to figure out when and how often to ask for feedback. Utilizing the best survey and feedback tools in our market gets better results; monitoring and responding to the reviewers creates an open, communicative environment where positive reviews are posted and issues can get resolved. Managing your online reputation is a must in today’s world of tech-savvy customers. We have more access to reviews and testimonials than ever—a positive attribute of our highly connected customer base.
This is an investment in time and effort across your company. Like all initiatives, it is important to be able to associate a return on that investment. While you may not see immediate ROI, over time with consistent focus you will see the results.
Cori Garrod, SEO and Social Media Specialist with A-1 Self Storage, has been working with her locations on generating online reviews, making them a top priority starting in 2012. Today, Cori is able to use data to see the effect that focus has made on their bottom line. Garrod explains, “We have a sterling reputation with Yelp, outperforming our competitors. Our average star rating is 4.72, which contributes to increased traffic to our websites. "I can see a direct correlation between online reviews and occupancy across our portfolio."
To get more information about best practices for creating opportunities for feedback and communicating with your customers, learn about Reputation Management.