Managing and boosting your reputation management efforts is a key area of focus for local marketers, however, best practices for doing so are constantly evolving. Shopping experiences have vastly changed over the past year, and in turn, so have customers’ expectations of local businesses. Review sentiment has shifted based on updates to store hours, closures, health safety measures, and more.
While your online reputation management strategy may not have been a top priority amid the pandemic, now is the time to refocus your efforts to emerge stronger than before as consumers seek your products or services. In fact, when reviewing our own client local search data, we’ve seen substantial increases in listing views, searches, and conversion actions across every industry we serve.
Recently, we hosted a webinar to help local businesses refine and rebuild their brand’s online reputation as pre-pandemic consumer shopping behavior begins to resume. We were joined by a panel of local marketing and Google My Business experts who shared their insights into how brands can build a stellar online reputation post-pandemic.
The panel included Sherry Bonelli, Owner of Early Bird Digital Marketing, Jason Brown, Founder of Review Fraud, and Nigel Atkinson, Account Director at Rio SEO.
Let’s dive into the five best practices our experts shared for boosting your reputation management post-pandemic:
Customer Experience Should Remain a Top Priority
As COVID-19 restrictions ease in most states, including California and New York most recently, customers are eager to resume their pre-pandemic activities and forms of entertainment. This includes booking travel plans, dining at restaurants, and attending sporting events in person. However, after a year rife with layoffs, many businesses have yet to recover their workforce. These challenges may prompt negative reviews if you’re not providing the ideal guest experience while ensuring the safety of your customers. In fact, for restaurant brands specifically, Rio SEO’s own research found 59% of 18 to 23-year-olds say online reputation plays a role in their purchase decision.
Ensure you’re providing an optimal shopping experience as customers are once again comfortable engaging with your brand in person. If your business does receive negative feedback, assess those sentiments and identify common trends to improve your business operations.
Businesses Need to Be Able to Adopt a Multichannel Customer Service Approach
Customers have sought alternative service options from businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer behavior shifted from in-person shopping to e-commerce and curbside pickup. Due to these new service options, brands must be armed with the support to handle customer service requests across numerous channels. Some of these channels may include popular review platforms, social media, niche review sites, your website, chatbots, and more.
Leverage Positive Reviews
Positive reviews can help shape the narrative of your business’ service. They can also help convert customers who are on the fence about using your products or services. Yet, some businesses make the mistake of not leveraging positive feedback. Our panel agreed that positive customer feedback should be shared on social media, a brand’s web pages, in client interviews, in email drip campaigns, and in your marketing assets.
Businesses Should Respond to All Negative Reviews First
In an ideal world, a business would respond to every review, whether positive or negative. However, in some cases, this simply isn’t feasible, especially for brands managing reviews for hundreds of locations. Our panel suggests businesses focus on responding to negative reviews first, and then should circle back to responding to positive reviews left within the past three months.
As negative reviews have the potential to impact a customer’s perception of your brand, these should be responded to as quickly as possible. A notification system should be in place for these types of reviews, and you should have a strategy in place for how to respond to negative reviews and how they will be escalated if necessary.
Ask Happy Customers to Leave Your Business a Review
Satisfied customers are your best resource for building a stellar online presence. They’re happy with your customer service, have a positive perception of your business, and are likely to be an advocate for your product or service. Reach out to these customers and ask them to leave feedback for your brand on Google My Business, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau.
Note that Yelp does not allow for review solicitation, however, our experts recommend asking customers to check-in or upload a photo on Yelp, as this will prompt Yelp to then ask the customer to leave a review for you.