What To Do When People…Talk

How to Manage Online Reviews

Fact check: we live in the 21st century. People are able to communicate via multiple channels and can find (almost) anything they are looking for on the Internet. Though it may seem *scary*, it leads us to this months’ Shop Talk topic: online reviews. So, keep breathing and check out the most frequently asked questions we get about online reviews.

How important are online reviews?
Having an online presence in 2015 is…well…very important. Even if you don’t have a robust website, a landing page with some basic info is imperative. Ensuring that your information is up-to-date on Google, Yelp and other major search engines is equally as important.

In regards to online reviews, they are growing in importance, especially across the travel and restaurant segments (thanks TripAdvisor and Yelp!). Recent studies from Google have found that 70% of Americans will look at online reviews before making an online purchase. And those products with more reviews tend to be returned less often than those with fewer reviews.

That said, people also are savvy enough to know to take things with a grain of salt. Some customers just like to complain about most anything, and those reviews can be quickly spotted. Others will offer hints and tips and good information if the customer has time to cull through the myriad of reviews (think Amazon).

Can I ask customers for reviews?

It really depends on your comfort level and what type of customer relationships you have. In the travel/ leisure, restaurant and more intimate retail worlds, yes, it’s easier to ask a customer for a review because you have had a more personal experience with them, as opposed to shopping online or in a larger brick and mortar. So in those instances, we aren’t opposed to asking for reviews as long as it is on-brand and not pushy.

What we would encourage is really making the customer experience in-store or online so great that customers WANT to leave a positive review. Go above and beyond at every touch-point, making sure that operations are functional and streamlined so verbal or non-verbal customers can easily get what they want.

And don’t bribe customers into leaving reviews! A promo code or free gift with purchase shouldn’t be a review-driver. It’s bribery and will just annoy customers. People can see through it easily when you have stacked reviews and they are not genuine. More reviews does not equal better reviews.

What do I do if I get a bad review?

First, keep breathing (Rule #1). Then assess the situation with your best outside perspective. Next, write a response that could be sent as a public or private message…without getting defensive (THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT!).

Wait before posting it and review the message again with a fresh set of eyes or have someone else review it. Then, once it has been given the green light, post the response to the customer publicly, and also send them a private message. A simple and sincere apology (if warranted) and fixing the problem can go a long way.

Know when to walk away. Things can escalate quickly in an online setting and it’s important to know when to call it. Always remain professional and on-brand.

Can I ask a customer to remove a review?

Again, it depends. Ideally, you respond in a professional, non-combative, non-defensive and on-brand way so other customers can see that you really value your customers. And that is that.

Don’t offer a refund on a product or a gift card for review removal. Again, that is bribery and very uncool. Not to mention, looking at this from the customer’s perspective, if something really was wrong, or there is a persistent issue, other customers should be allowed to know and you should be fixing it (!), not just trying to cover it up.

And lastly, for those customers that are dead set on being *petulant*, after taking 10 deep breaths and trying your best to accommodate them, you can always contact the service provider (Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.) and see what they can do. It’s not the best option, because you really should be spending your time on oodles of other things, but we understand how upsetting it can be, so we will let you keep this tool in your arsenal, just-in-case.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Ask us!