Managing Online Review Platforms

Review platforms can divide opinions – some see them as positive, a tool that allows a business to receive feedback from customers to improve performance or to be recognised for their good work, while others view them as potentially damaging and often unfairly given by disgruntled customers or competitors.

For any company that exists in the digital space, online reviews are critically important when it comes to winning business and maintaining a positive reputation.

Did you know that Google now includes your business’ review standings on Google searches? Now it’s easy to see why that online reputation is as important as ever.

Whatever your opinion, it’s important to know how to handle them to protect your reputation or to maximise the positive benefits.

Here we outline some top tips and best practice for managing and handling online reviews.

Keeping on top of reviews

To keep on top of review submissions, it’s a good idea to check the various sites that your business is listed on every few days.  Replying to 5-star reviews is just as important as replying to 1-star reviews – let your customers know that you appreciate their feedback and use the channel to build relationships.

Updating your business information

On review platforms such as Google and Tripadvisor, you can also add extra information about your business and keep the information accurate and up to date, such as opening times, news and imagery.  

Also, you probably have keywords in mind for your business, but that doesn’t mean the words and phrases you associate with your company are the same ones that your customers would use. By reading reviews, you can tap into the words and phrases most commonly used by your consumers and fine tune the keywords you use in your SEO campaigns accordingly.

97% report that customer reviews factor into their buying decisions. And, 92% of consumers will hesitate to purchase a product or service if there are no customer reviews. 35% are less likely to buy if there are no reviews available.

Maintaining quality in replies

Replies should always be kept consistent, in line with your brand and use the same tone across all review sites. Where relevant, you may also want to sign off a response with the business owner’s name to make it more personal.

Dealing with negative reviews

There are many different approaches that can be taken when responding to negative reviews, largely depending on your brand and how you would like to be perceived. Rather than publicly call out a reviewer you don’t believe it’s fair, we’d advise to take it away from the site and offer to discuss further via email or on the phone. Washing your dirty linen in public is rarely good for a business and can even cause greater reputational damage with an online argument. Take it offline and if possible, engage in a one-on-one conversation with the reviewer before deciding on how best to respond.

Overall, we’d always advise that businesses address negative reviews, so you can be seen to be proactive – even if you don’t agree with the reviewer’s side of the story. In this digital age we live in, all eyes are on your business, so it’s important to make a good impression as review sites are often visited by potential new customers.

When dealing with a fabricated review, depending on the platform, you can usually contest it and have it taken down. In more serious cases, for example, if a customer has been asked to leave your establishment and left a bad review to punish the business, we’ve successfully worked with the platforms in removing defamatory and unfair reviews.

Using reviews as part of your Social Media Strategy

Sharing positive reviews on your social media channels is a great way to showcase what your business has to offer, whether it’s to current followers or new customers who have just discovered you.

Sharing positive Instagram story content from customers is a perfect way to illustrate what other customers think of their experiences and also provides fresh new imagery for your social channels. This type of content is just as important as a review on Tripadvisor or Google, so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on your social media activity and opportunities.