There is an old saying that more isn’t necessarily better. This is doubly true when it comes to online reviews. Just about every business owner I’ve met has a serious case of online review envy. They look with envy at the shop down the street with pages of positive reviews. The ugly truth is that many companies, especially those suffering from bad reviews, are not in a position where more customer reviews will help. They may hire a Reputation Management or Social Media consultant to help them thinking that they are buying a megaphone when in reality they end up under a microscope.

In this article I’m going to share 3 things companies need to do before they make a deliberate effort to increase their review volume.

Monitor the Review Sites that Matter

Monitor ReviewsYou can’t address complaints that go unheard. Monitor the big review sites that fit your business. Finding them is pretty easy. Search for the reviews of your own company and that of your competitors. This should give you a great list of sites to monitor.

If you check every 24 hours for new reviews, you are already ahead of the majority of businesses. If that is too much, every other day is acceptable. Any more than that and you’ll run into issues which I’ll discuss in the next section. This process should take you about 5 minutes max.

One thing to keep in mind is that the law of diminishing returns applies to review site monitoring. Ideally, you will want to monitor them all, but realistically, the majority of your reviews will be on a hand-full of sites. There’s no point in investing a ton of effort on a site that got a single review over a year ago.

Have a Rapid Response Plan

Now that you have started to keep a close watch on your review listings there are 2 things you need to do to get the most out of monitoring:

  1. Respond to negative reviews as soon as possible
  2. Connect the reviewer to the decision maker that can actually fix the problem

Rapid Response

rapid response reviewsPeople who invest the time to write a review be it good or bad are going to be passionate about their point of view. People who are upset enough to write a negative review need special care and attention because any further slight from the business can set these folks off in an uncontrollable direction.

Your business sends a strong message that you actually care about this person’s problem when you respond quickly. This is why you need to monitor daily. Responding quickly shows that reviewer that you take them seriously. More importantly, it shows potential customers that you are listening and have a system in place to address issues.

Connect them with the Decision Maker

There are a lot of great articles about how to respond to a bad review. I won’t rehash that here. The one thing they often omit is to connect that person to the person that has the power to solve their problem. No one wants to go through a series of underlings that pass them around like a bad penny. The runaround and retelling the same story to multiple people will lead to a negative follow-up review. I guarantee it will be even more blistering than the first.

You can make this process go a lot smoother by doing these two things before the reviewer contacts you

  1. Alert the decision maker to expect this person’s call, email, etc…
  2. Do some digging to find out the details behind the transaction

Investigate Customer Review

Depending on how your business is set up #2 may be impossible. At the very least, give the decision maker a heads up that this person will be in touch and provide a copy of the review so they know the context of the conversation. No one likes being blindsided and when they interact with the customer they will be well versed and ready with options. Remember the 7 P’s:

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Be a Better Company

The real ugly truth is you can have all these processes in place but if your product or service is crap then you’re going to keep getting bad reviews. There is absolutely nothing a Reputation Management company can do to help you with this.

Yes you can do everything right customer service wise but it’s simply putting lipstick on a pig. A solid product will naturally earn positive reviews.

Quality Wins

Ultimately, how you handle your online reviews is a reflection of your philosophy as a company. Are you a company that puts your customers’ needs first and will do anything to ensure they have an excellent experience? If so, respond to feedback quickly and streamline the resolution process. In the end, you have to have a solid product or none of it will matter. Investing in a campaign to generate more reviews will end up amplifying the quality of your company and only you can control that.