Online reviews have emerged as one of the most important aspects of digital marketing and reputation management, across nearly every consumer-facing industry from food services to healthcare. But what about SaaS companies? Should a B2B company publicly engage with their customer reviews?
Short answer: yes! 90% of buyers are more likely to make a purchase decision after reading reviews — but yet only 20% of B2B(https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/Sell Microsite Files/The Impact of Reviews on B2B - Report.pdf) companies manage their reviews as part of their marketing strategy. That's a major missed opportunity, but it doesn't have to be: there are a few concrete steps you can take to leverage reviews to improve your online reputation, repair customer relationships and deliver a better experience.
Get active on the right platforms — and respond to reviews
So, what reviews platforms do you need to be active on? In no particular order, you should focus on:
Which reviews should you respond to? Ideally, as many as you can. Your bandwidth will depend on the size of your team and the amount of review traffic you get. But, at the bare minimum, you should be responding to significant negative feedback.
While positive reviews are inherently easier to respond to, negative reviews should take priority if you have limited capacity to manage your online presence. These reviews highlight your business' weaknesses and challenges. Moreover, they create opportunities for repairing relationships, improving your customer service and addressing holes in your product, sales, support or onboarding. If handled effectively, you should be able to turn some of these negative reviews into positives, prevent other customers from leaving negative reviews, and make tangible improvements in your services. What's more, businesses that respond to reviews see a .28 increase* in their star rating on average.
But how should you respond? Here are a few best practices.
Respond conversationally and in your brand voice: don't sound like a robot. This is someone who has or had an ongoing business relationship with you and took the time to leave you a public review. Do them the courtesy of a genuine response.
Don't say too much or too little: it's a fine line; you should acknowledge the praise and reinforce your brand's value without going into a sales pitch. Or, acknowledge the complaint and reinforce your commitment to client success. What's happened has happened, so staying solutions/action-orientated in your reply is key. Acknowledge the complaint and push towards making it right.
Drive the conversation to a new channel (if needed): reviews aren't designed for extended dialogue. Keep your response succinct, solution-orientated and relevant to the review. Drive the reviewer to a communication channel you control if you want to continue the conversation.
Take advantage of opportunities to connect with clients on your own terms
Once you've started to engage with reviews, what's next? One step is to see how you might identify the reviewer and the client account.
Different platforms provide varying levels of insight into who left a review. On Google and TrustPilot, you'll only get a name and that name may be a pseudonym. On G2, you may get a name, company and even business size. It is up to you to use whatever breadcrumbs the reviewer left behind and trace them back to an account in your internal systems — and then take advantage of your ability to follow up with that client on your own terms.
What happens after you identify the account, the contact(s) and the issue(s)? Be proactive and show the customer that you pay attention and care about them. Depending on the structure of your organisation, this process will typically be routed to your customer support or customer success team. (We recommend routing the issue to the proper team before responding to the review.)
When the situation is resolved, both you and the customer may go back and update your public interaction. Allow the customer the opportunity to do it first. You don't want to be pushy in requesting an updated review but you can use gentle language such as:
"We're glad to have turned the ship around since your TrustPilot review. Please contact us if you have any more questions!"
"Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We appreciate you working with us. We're committed to delivering a 5-star experience!"
Allow the customer two business days to update their review. If they don't, you can go ahead and update your response — acknowledging that you've made direct contact and resolved their concerns. Why? Even if the user doesn't update their review, you will showcase to any readers that you have contacted the customer proactively, worked with them to resolve the issue and closed the loop.
Request new reviews (the right way)
Okay, enough negativity — let's dive into driving your ratings up!
The first step is to identify your low performers: are there any platforms where your performance is subpar, i.e. under 4.0 stars? That's where you want to drive new positive reviews. It's way easier and far more effective to push a 2.5 to a 3.0 than it is to push a 4.5 to a 4.6.
Again, you want to be tactful and respectful when requesting reviews. We recommend communicating this objective to your customer support and customer success teams. Identify clients that you have strong relationships with, or with whom you have recently completed a highly successful project. You can make the process easy by linking them directly to your profile.
How are you going to leverage everything you learn from all this review management? That's up to you. Depending on your relationship with each of these platforms, you'll have different levels of access to insights and analysis of your reviews. But you don't need sophisticated analytics to identify glaring, recurring feedback, whether it be positive or negative — you just need to pay attention to your customers and seize opportunities to nurture that relationship.
Also, pay attention to your support "heroes." If anyone in your organisation was called out for exemplary performance in a review, then share it with their manager! People should be recognised for their great work and for contributing to your brand's great reputation.
Finally, it's important to identify the issues that might call for larger fixes. Are you seeing reviews that call out problems that may routinely drive traffic to your customer support? That block upsells?
Challenge your leaders — and yourself! — to assess the impact this is having on your business. How much traffic is being driven to support? How many sales are driven? How much time is spent on these projects due to particular shortcomings? You may find some holes that you can fill that will block certain bad reviews from coming in to begin with.
With these three steps, you can start to take ownership of your online reputation. Build confidence in potential customers, show appreciation to your brand ambassadors and respond to negative reviews to regain trust. Better review response and customer service isn't just for the "B2C" — it's for you too.
*Yext study, 2018