Customers and search engines make decisions about your brand every day based on your ratings and reviews. If you don't pay attention to this important source of customer feedback, you could be leaving revenue on the table.
The rise of digital and mobile has completely shifted the online review landscape. With the proliferation of social media and online review sites, consumers' voices are amplified more than ever before. It is important for businesses to invest in review monitoring and customer service tools, because customer feedback, whether you're a national or local brand, can represent a powerful opportunity to improve operations and grow revenue. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business.
While some might think the phrase "online reputation management" implies that businesses can actively influence or change their ratings, any attempts to add bias to online ratings (like incentivizing customers to leave a review or trying to delete negative reviews) erode consumers' confidence in the long run, since they present a biased view of the experience you offer at your business. Instead of these inappropriate and potentially damaging tactics, the best practices for businesses related to online reviews are to monitor all reviews that consumers leave about them across the web, and to respond to reviews on sites that support that activity. It's important to pay attention to this source of customer feedback, whether it occurs on online review sites like Yelp, or on social media sites like Twitter or Facebook.
With 81% of shoppers conducting online research before heading to a store, it's clear that consumers go online to evaluate local businesses before making a purchase decision. On top of this, the majority of shoppers now have their smartphones on them at all times and research indicates that 46% of all shopping journeys contain a mobile search. Businesses who don't pay attention to their online reviews are at risk of losing business to competitors who do.
Online reviews can also help businesses with local SEO. Google now allows businesses to collect first-party reviews from their customers and publish those reviews on their websites. When properly tagged with Schema.org markup, these first-party reviews display star ratings in a business's organic search results.
Worldwide, $500 billion is spent per year on marketing, but only $9 billion is spent on customer service. This large gap exists even though just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits 25-90%! Customer retention and advocacy begins with a proactive strategy for responding to online reviews. According to marketing and customer service expert Jay Baer, one-third of customer complaints are never answered, and most of these take place online. "No answer is in fact, an answer," says Jay. "It's an answer that says we don't care about you or your feedback at all." Knowing this, it's important for companies to pay attention to what is being said about them online and to be sure to respond to each and every review or message that they can.
Building a review monitoring and response strategy may sound like a lot of work, but every business should concentrate on a few impactful things to start:
Claim and manage your local listings, as well as profiles on review sites and social media. By utilizing a tool like Yext Listings, you can update your business's local listing information in near real time, across hundreds of sites, with the click of a button.
Start monitoring your online reviews by looking at review sites and social media. With Yext's Review Monitoring feature, you can monitor customer reviews for each of your business locations across every Listings site that supports them, including Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Citysearch, in near real time. You can set up custom notifications for when you receive new reviews, search reviews by location, and analyze how customer feedback changes over time and across locations.
Reply to all reviews (both positive and negative) as well as complaints and questions on social media. Doing so puts the quality of your customer service front and center.
Pay attention to trends that you see in the online reviews you receive. Are negative reviews correlated with a part of your experience that you can improve, like the speed with which you serve customers or how you communicate your offerings? The key to improving your customer experience may be sitting online right now.
Build a proactive reviews strategy with Yext Reviews to grow your business and uncover opportunities to improve your operations.