6 Tips to Improve Customer Feedback

Does your business have a hard time attracting positive attention on the internet? If so, you’re not alone. Studies show that as many as 90 percent of customers read online reviews before buying a product or service, yet the number of people who regularly leave this kind of feedback is much lower.

What previous customers write about your company online is important. People not only read comments, they trust this content more than what you post about yourself. At ReputationDefender we assist our clients with building a positive online profile through a variety of different avenues. Ranking brand-generated material and blog articles on the SERP is extremely important, but it’s not a match for genuine testimonials from real customers.

It’s Important to Encourage Reviews

The number of people who write reviews varies a lot depending on the type of business and the amount of effort leaders put into generating feedback. The 1/9/90 Rule is a general guideline for what you are likely to see without a strong campaign: about 1 percent will comment or review products, about 9 percent will respond or share the material, while about 90 percent will read comments but not take part in the discussion.

Many companies prefer not to attract attention online for fear of generating negative comments. This is understandable since, with only about 1 percent of customers writing reviews, most are likely to be written by people who were upset or unhappy with their service. However, every company will get negative feedback at some point; the best way to deal with the problem of negativity is to get more reviews. Assuming your business gives good service, most customers will be happy to leave positive feedback, but they won’t necessarily think to unless you go out of your way to ask them.

Honest Feedback Can Be an Asset

It’s not necessary for every review to be a glowing five star rating. It fact, customers tend not to trust reviews if all of them are uniformly positive. An honest critique can actually be more helpful than a generic “Good Job” or “No Problems” since it can show target areas that need improvement, as well as give you the opportunity to respond in a public setting.

As a business owner, it is important to generate reviews and to encourage people to write useful detailed comments that let others know what to expect when they use your product or service. This is the kind of feedback that will draw people in and make them think it’s worth giving your business a try.

6 Ways to Get Useful Reviews

Asking for reviews isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Different tactics will reach different customers and attract different types of reviews, so the best strategy is to combine a number of separate strategies.

  • Ask In Person – Depending on the type of business, traditional, personal contact can be the most effective way of generating positive feedback. If you have long-term customers who are known personally to you or some of your staff, ask them if they would be interested in sharing their experiences online. You won’t get many reviews this way, but you will likely get some of your most valuable testimonials.
  • Ask via Email – This isn’t as personal, but it can be easier, especially if most of your transactions take place online. An automatic email, such as a survey or a form that is easy to fill out will help to reach more customers and remind them that their feedback is important to you. You can also choose to select customers who you believe had a positive experience and send them a more personalised email from someone they worked with.
  • Use Software – Several different types of software, such as Grade.us and BrightLocal, will assist with reputation management by sending customers directly to the review sites that are most important to you. This helps to encourage responses from people who don’t typically write reviews, as well as giving a place for customers who are unhappy to contact you and have their grievances dealt with.
  • Offer Guidelines – Don’t assume customers know what you want in a review. Write an article on your blog, or include a brief paragraph in the review request that explains how important reviews are to your company. Offer guidelines or questions that will help customers describe their experience in a useful way.
  • Give Incentives – This can help generate higher numbers of reviews, but it should be used carefully. Most review sites will accept incentives as long as there’s no requirement that the review be positive. However, it’s a good idea to check the site rules first. A monthly prize draw for review writers can be a cost-effective way to provide an incentive without any hint of buying positive reviews.
  • Employee Tips – This strategy can work well in situations where the customer works with a specific agent. Include a line in the review request specifying that the employee will receive a small tip for positive reviews that mention their name. This helps to encourage customers to write a positive review and feel good about helping others at the same time.

Start to use one or more of these tactics regularly and you’ll soon see an improvement in the volume and quality of your reviews.

How to Turn Negative Reviews Into an Asset

The importance of customer generated publicity is growing all the time. According to a 2015 survey by BrightLocal, 92 percent of people use online reviews to learn more about a product or service, up from 88 percent only a year before. More and more people now base their buying decisions on comments from other customers, so it’s vital that businesses have numerous reviews left by genuine clients.

At Reputation Defender we work with companies to manage their reputation and create positive online content. There is nothing more valuable than testimony from a satisfied customer, but unfortunately not all reviews will be positive. Every business will face negative comments from a dissatisfied customer at some point, so it’s not a matter of if but when. Business leaders need to be ready with a plan in place to deal with negative publicity when it appears.

Stars are Important

Star rating is the number one factor that consumers use to judge a business, so a one or two star rating can really hurt a company that doesn’t have many reviews. On the other hand, it will be much less noticeable if there are already a high number of four or five star reviews. Surprisingly, a few unenthusiastic comments can actually help. Customers will tend to question the reliability of the reviews if each one has a solid five star rating.

Making Reviews Work for Your Company

Here are six steps to make reviews work for you company:

  1. Be proactive about customer service – Handling dissatisfied customers before they have a chance to leave a review is the most effective way of preventing negative comments. Online rants often come as a result of customers feeling ignored or overlooked, so if something occurs to disrupt normal service, or you know a customer is unhappy, make sure compensation is offered. A coupon, a discount on a future visit, or even a full refund can be worth it if it keeps the company’s reputation intact.
  2. Make it easy to leave a review – Generating a high volume of reviews is the best way to ensure a four or five star average. If you focus on excellent customer service, most people will have a positive experience and be happy to leave a testimonial, but they may not think about it unless you remind them. Send out review invitations by email, or on a receipt. Offer prizes or contests for people who leave comments. If you have regular customers, don’t be afraid to ask them directly.
  3. Set up an alert – Even with your best efforts, there will always be some negative reviews. Register for a Google Alert, so you will know right away when someone leaves a comment about your business, negative or positive. This will give you more time to read and respond to the comment before it has a chance to go viral.
  4. Respond appropriately –Mature responses show you can take constructive criticism and help to convince other readers that you’re not the one being unreasonable. Address the issue directly, apologize and explain what has been done to fix the problem. This makes readers feel you listen and are trying to improve. It’s also important to respond to positive reviews, so everyone leaving a comment knows they are appreciated.
  5. Take executive action when necessary – Responses that come from high-level management will always be more effective. Not every executive has time to respond to reviews regularly, but just a few comments a month will show feedback is taken seriously.
  6. Track your statistics – If you practice good customer service and encourage reviews, you should get four or five stars from approximately 85 percent of your customers. Many customers distrust reviews that are entirely positive, so don’t make this a goal. Welcome some negative comments, but respond appropriately and try to make sure a similar situation doesn’t occur again.

Everything You Need to Know About ORM for Schools

Recently, many schools have realized how important their Online Reputation is. Nowadays the pretty brochure or the neat website are not enough for parents when it comes to choosing the right school for their children. Keeping a clean reputation has become a fundamental priority for schools that want to rank well in search engines, get more students and keep the ones they already have.

Reputation Defender knows that this whole idea about keeping a positive reputation may sound simple, but in reality, schools often have a hard time with online reviews and social media posts. It is very important to pay attention to this issue since the internet is incredibly slow to forget. It does not matter if a school was involved with a drunk teacher scandal 10 years ago, probably parents are going to find this information anyway in Google.

Parents Googling for the worst

Most consumers are constantly Googling everything. If someone wants to know if a specific product is trustworthy, then it will Google it.

With schools and parents, it is the same thing. Parents act like picky consumers who fear for their children’s proper education and safety. They scrutinize everything about the prospective school– and when we say everything, it is EVERYTHING. They manage themselves to find long-forgotten information about it and base their decisions on this kind of old data.

If your school is not using any kind of SEO service, the chances of search engines showing negative information about it are definitely higher. Parents will easily find something dirty ranking higher than other positive reviews about your school. This happens because there are always a few bad stories that remain just because they were absorbed by years of 24-hour news feeds fed by incessantly curious and gossipy parents.

Misunderstandings, upset parents arguing with the principal and politically incorrect teachers, are on top of the subjects that most parents Google. Needless to say that most of these subjects probably were poorly treated by the press, and what could have been a simple situation between a student and its teacher, was sensationalized, twisted, exaggerated and manipulated in a way the media could get a shocking headline perfect for attracting more clicks from the already concerned parents.

Beware of Negative Reviews

The old bad press is only one of your concerns as a school trying to keep a clean Online Reputation. A matter that schools should as well keep in mind is online reviews.

There are a few websites where parents can find online reviews written by others, such as greatschools.org or schooldigger.com. On these websites, people can leave their reviews on the selected school platform. Positive reviews rank well on search engines and can help your school build a strong reputation. On the other hand, negative reviews will definitely destroy your school’s reputation in minutes if you don’t take care of them.

If a school wants to build a strong reputation, it should use an ORM services like Google Alerts that can help it detect when a bad review is posted. As most of the websites where people can rank schools have forums, schools can engage in an open dialog with upset parents and try to solve every single one of their complaints.

Let’s keep in mind that some forums allow users to leave anonymous comments. These comments also need to be taken care of by using an ORM advisor who can tell the school whether it is or not a good to delete a negative comment.

Image courtesy of jdog90 at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of jdog90 at Flickr.com

Students and Social Media

Another important issue to keep in mind in order for schools to have a positive Online Reputation are student posts in social media. This matter can be quite delicate since high school students can be rebel teenagers wanting to gain some popularity among their peers.

Students can create fake accounts and post mischievous content about your school, leading to gossip and misinformation. Fake twitter or Facebook accounts are a quite common tool for students to make fun of their school’s teachers or kitchen lady.

This is probably the riskiest item for schools’ ORM since they are dealing with teenagers and there is virtually nothing that can be done or said to solve this issue besides also using Social Media to minimize the negative impact of the students’ behavior.

What to do then?

Luckily for schools, there are many ORM vendors willing to study their situation and help them out with their reputation management. Some ideal solutions would be to launch multiple websites with highly positive content about the school, make sure all social media profiles are coherent, and get the school in the spotlight for something everyone can be proud of. In the end, good news can go viral and could be very beneficial for schools with reputation issues.