Reputation management done right empowers marketers. It enables them to put their customer experience on display for prospects via reviews and ratings, while also helping them uncover the questions their customers are asking — so they can find new opportunities to elevate that experience even further. At our recent ONWARD19 conference, representatives from three reviews powerhouses — Yelp, TripAdvisor, and OpenTable — discussed the power of effective reputation management in 2020, and its increasing impact on the customer journey.
We rounded up three critical stats shared from that discussion — and why each matters for your reputation management strategy.
90% of all sales still happen in brick-and-mortar locations.
Why it matters: The in-person customer experience is alive and well. Is your brand ready to respond directly to feedback on an in-store experience?
Advice from the experts: "Brick-and-mortar and retail has really taken a beating at times in the press in the last year or so, but it still represents 90% of where all transactions are happening," said Drew Canniff, DVP, Agency & Partner Sales at Yelp. "This creates an opportunity for someone who's in a store and in a business to have a one-to-one relationship and to leave feedback through reviews. To me, this creates a big opportunity for brands to really engage with consumers that might be in the store — and as soon as they're walking out, they're writing a review, or they're leaving feedback. I think there's a big opportunity for brands to capitalize on that, and that's been the biggest shift as platforms have enabled people to give their feedback to these brands."
And search doesn't stop when people arrive at a destination — which means your brand's reviews can and do have outsize impact on people already within your doors. "Folks are in-store, or in a restaurant, still searching and still trying to figure out what they should do," said Gerard Murphy, Senior Product Director for Restaurants, at TripAdvisor. "We talked to a product manager at Bed, Bath & Beyond who said people bring their phones into the store and are reading reviews of the products as they are there. So your reputation isn't just getting people in the doors, it's about conversion once they're actually there."
52% of the time a consumer switches brands, it's directly related to customer experience.
Why it matters: The very nature of a review is changing. Instagram comments can be a review, for example. Brands and businesses need a holistic reputation management strategy to protect the customer experience across platforms.
Advice from the experts: "People are going a lot deeper with reviews now," Murphy said. "It used to be "help me find the best Indian food," now they want to know about the menu — the menu is incredibly important. They want to know what they should order, how much that will cost, and what food allergens it contains. So reputation has just become broader and broader."
According to Gartner, 52% of the time consumers switch brands, it's directly related to customer experience.* If you're not thinking of your reputation holistically, you risk damaging the customer experience — and therefore losing a customer.
Only 11–12% of reviews are responded to, but 50% of consumers expect businesses to respond.
Why it matters: Any gap between consumer expectation and brand execution represents opportunity. Social, search, and reviews have opened up a two-way connection between consumers and brands. And as consumers begin to expect those responses, they also begin to rely on them — Murphy shared that 95% of TripAdvisor consumers say owner feedback is helpful in driving a decision.
Advice from the experts: "Consumers expect that when they're writing reviews and leaving feedback, someone is listening to them and someone is going to respond to that feedback," Canniff said. "But right now there's a pretty big gap. More than half of consumers expect feedback. On the SMB level, they're doing a little bit better — 25% of the time reviews are being responded to — but on the enterprise level, it's more like 11–12%. That creates a huge opportunity to interact with those consumers."
Feedback can also save a customer journey in peril. "We find a really common user behavior is to go in and immediately sort by the lowest review first," said Miles Skorpen, Head of Consumer and Marketplace Product at OpenTable. "They're trying to figure out the authenticity of this review. If it's, 'I walked in and they wouldn't let me use the bathroom even though I wasn't a customer,' maybe you discount it. If it's something more serious, then the diner takes that into consideration, and that's where that response gets really powerful because you can provide context to the diner, or potentially even save the situation — convince them to come back and say, 'I had a not-great time, but came back and it was amazing,' and that's just such a powerful story for your users." At Yelp, businesses that respond to reviews have on average a half a star higher rating.
Which opportunities should you seize? As a rule of thumb, Murphy recommended responding to almost all of the negative ones — trying to turn someone against your brand into a potential advocate via direct messaging and resolving their issue. "Respond to a couple of the really positive ones, turning that consumer into a loyal customer that comes back again and again — and a couple in the middle as well. If they do that, they usually have some success." And no matter what the review was like? Make sure you're responding authentically.
Reviews can have a tremendous impact on the customer journey. They open up an opportunity for a direct relationship, and if you seize that opportunity you're guaranteed to boost your overall reputation. They can also help customers answer questions at different points along their journey — not just what's the best place to eat, for example, but what's the best item on the menu. And you can use them to play offense, too, turning already excited customers into loyal advocates.
To explore more ways you can improve your reputation management strategy, check out The Complete Guide to Reputation Management.
*Gartner/CEB Global, 2016