What consumers say about your business remains one of the most critical KPIs in business management. More positives than negatives is a surefire indicator that you’re on the right track. Flip it over, and that’s a sign that you need to switch things up.

Far from being just a means of measuring business performance, reviews also function as a sales beacon for your business. Often, they are the first point of contact – what prospective clients see – when they attempt to purchase your service. Per a survey by BrightLocal, 68% of consumers took the time out to read up reviews about local businesses. The majority of the consumers in this study agreed that a positive review aligned them better with a company. For a significant 40%, negative reviews were too much of a red flag to ignore.

It’s easy to spot the trend here; consumers care (a lot) about reviews, emphasizing why every business needs a competent review management strategy.

Placing a foothold on what your consumers say about you

A review management strategy is a contingency mechanism to make sure what consumers say, whether positive or negative, always paints your business in the best light possible. There are many approaches to achieving this, but here are the top evergreen methods.

Establish your business on review sites

Think of review sites as discussion and assessment forums for consumers. It’s where they go to survey a brand before committing to the final purchase. If your business page on these sites is not claimed and fully step up, you’re invariably missing out on this limitless source prime consumer engagement.

Review sites come by the dozens, and while you can go as far as setting up business pages on all of them, your emphasis should be on the more prevalent alternatives like Google Business, Yelp, and those set up mainly for businesses in your niche.

Engaging with your customers via reviews

Once your business page is up and running and assuming everything works as it should, the reviews should start flowing in and just as you’ve made a habit of responding to consumer inquiries, so also it is imperative that you devise a mechanism to engage with all posted reviews.

Start by drumming up a response blueprint, that is, how you plan to structure your response to a review depending on the nature of the review. As an example, negative reviews are best handled by a defuse, empathize, and renegotiate approach. Why respond to a negative review is a question you might ask. Simple answer, because consumers, in addition to reading reviews, also read responses from businesses. In fact, according to the BrightLocal survey, 89% of all customers go on to check out what a company says about a review.

Again as a way of emphasis, your response should be more focused on identifying what has been said, responding to it, and providing a means of settling than it should be about the tone/nature of the reviewer.

Utilizing software solutions to maximum effect

Managing other aspects of your business social media desk is already exhausting, add review management, and your plate might just become too full. Luckily, there are several tools to help automate the process.

The best tools will:

Provide a customized dashboard that allows you to track and integrate all reviews about your business from a central dashboard

Automatically request for client feedback on sites with your business pages set up

Have a setup that lets you assess customer satisfaction before prompting for a review

Integrate with native management solutions like your CRM for seamless interaction and value-added service delivery.

The third function is especially important as it allows you to create a safe deflection zone where unsatisfied customers are attended (and most likely appeased) before they go on to the online space. As you would find out, and contrary to what many businesses assume, most customers are not looking for ways to flame your business; they just need a platform to be heard.

Cap it off by using reviews as an edge sharpening tool

As we’ve already reiterated, reviews provide a cost-effective way to see what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. If an aspect of your service delivery model keeps popping up in reviews negatively, the first step would be to recognize the deficiency, apologize to the customer, make a commitment to address the issue and then, here’s the important part, go on to actually address that issue.

Many businesses make the mistake of not going through with promises made to customers on review pages. Invariably that will sow a seed of discontent and mistrust in the mind of the consumer. But imagine what happens when a client registers a genuine complaint and sees it attended to; yeah you just earned yourself a loyal client who knows you care about his or her satisfaction.

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Original article published on https://www.dariosipos.com/how-to-create-an-online-reviews-management-strategy/