Don’t think you can avoid online reviews; they are for everyone.
It’s no secret that online reviews are no longer just for books and movies, restaurants and hotels. In fact, there is hardly a product or service available today that consumers cannot get a little insight on before purchasing. I read up on water bottles the other day before making a final purchase…water bottles. We simply want the best, and we know that there is no reason to take a blind risk when the reviews are out there.
If your online reviews are not up to par, you’re out; if you have no reviews and your competition has even average reviews, you’re product or service is likely to be dismissed. However, just having positive reviews out there is not enough, because consumers have become privy to the old tricks of online reputation management: suppressing/hiding poor reviews and purchasing good ones. We’ve become leery of companies with 100% positive reviews. So, reputation management has become a marketing tool that requires strategy and constant, close attention. If this seems stressful, time consuming and maybe overwhelming, you might want to consider getting some help from an online reputation management company.
What is an online reputation management company?
*I’m sure not every company is the same, but I will speak to what we consider to be a good example of an online reputation management company, based on companies we’ve worked with and have read into for this article, which generally seem to operate similarly.
What it typically does:
- It DOES direct your customers to the reputation management site to place reviews. The “direction” may be by way of a review card, automated follow up email or link from your website.
- It DOES offer a survey as a buffer, so you can intercept a poor ranking before it reaches the internet as a publicly displayed rant. This is key. The survey allows the customer to vent and could lessen a desire to post a negative review. The survey also provides you the opportunity to rectify the situation and hopefully turn a potentially poor review into a good one.
- It DOES notify you by email when a review or survey comes through. Many companies offer the ability to respond directly from your email, making it easier to stay on top of reviews and to respond immediately.
- It DOES offer links to the big review sites, Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc., and you are able to select which ones you want to use. This helps you control where reviews are being posted, so you can guide customers to review sites that are on your radar. Details and reporting tools for all of these review sites can be viewed on a single dashboard and reports can be set up to auto send weekly or monthly.
- It DOES encourage you to focus on generating non-duplicated reviews and maintaining a professional reputation, rather than a spotless one. It will offer tips, tricks and training for responding to reviews, turning a negative review around, etc.
- It DOES claim to adhere to purely ethical methods of building reputation, per the Federal Trade Commission Regulations and Guidelines. This eliminates the tactics of fake or purchased reviews and posting/re-posting reviews on behalf of a customer.
What it does not typically do:
- It DOES NOT directly generate reviews. The closest they come is to send an auto review request to customers after making a purchase.
- It DOES NOT set up accounts for your company on review sites, like Yelp, etc.
- It DOES NOT respond to reviews on your behalf.
- It DOES NOT handle customer phone calls or offer any type of customer service for your customers
What are some options?
We looked into a few online reputation management companies. While they operate similarly, we were able to identify a few unique elements to their service lists.
Price: Starting at $147/mo +Free 30 day trial
+ Incentive program for your team members. Points are earned for positive reviews and can be redeemed for prizes (prizes not provided by ReviewBuzz). Review of the week posted to the company’s Facebook page. Employees can have individual profiles and reviews can be directed to the company or a specific employee.
+ 500 complimentary customized review cards, or “BuzzCards.”
+ Facebook and Twitter integration. All reviews can be posted to your website.
– When an employee leaves, their reviews stay. This could be bad if an employee is fired due to poor reviews.
– No multi-location accounts.
Price: $29-49/mo +Free 30 day trial (special pricing for multi-location account)
+ Ability to respond to reviews from the email alert that is sent for every review
+ Unlimited locations.
– No survey.
Price: varies by package
+ Custom html code integrates with your website, allowing customers to post their review without leaving your domain.
+ Review card templates, including a QR code that links to your website. These can be made into post cards or handouts that allow less tech savvy customers to hand write their review.
+ Responsive review form and customizable templates for responding to both positive and negative reviews (templates also responsive).
+ Upgrade options to include: creation and optimization of social media profiles, negative review response, SEO services, management of up to 30 review sites, phone tracking for up to 3 lines
– Unlisted pricing leaves me to assume it will be substantial.
– No survey mentioned.
Pricing: $29.95/mo +Free 15 Day Trial
+ Kiosk Mode allows you to request feedback from your customer on-site.
+ Auto review request email can be triggered by your existing CRM or point-of-sale system via our API.
+ Export reviews at any time, so you don’t have to worry about losing them if you cancel the service.
+ Testimonials embed onto your website in Google-friendly rich snippets.
+ SEO advantage due to Schema.org review markup.
+ Track multiple locations.
Summary: An online reputation management tool could give you the encouragement and support you need to confidently request reviews, help you stay in front of negative reviews, and make monitoring all those review sites a little easier. If you have questions about this tool, the companies mentioned in this article, or any other online reputation management options, please give us a call: 303-940-5544.