Let PR show you how to use them for maximum advantage
In the past, when customers were unhappy with your company, they simply let their wallets do the talking. Today’s consumers have numerous ways to let you know how they feel about your company, products and people. One of the most popular methods is online consumer and product reviews.
How your company handles these opinions can mean the difference between generating consumer loyalty and delivering customers directly to your competition. With help from PR, you can learn how to use reviews to improve your reputation and increase your profits.
Incorrect ways to handle customer reviews
No company is perfect. Although you’re working hard to get everything right, you’re bound to have a few unhappy customers or disgruntled employees bent on damaging your reputation. The challenge is to avoid making the situation worse.
Don’t insult the reviewer. Of course, you want to defend yourself and your product, but getting into a war of words is not the answer. You need to handle even the most offensive comments with care and tact. A poorly formulated response can attract the wrong kind of attention and become a story itself.
Don’t dismiss comments out of hand as unimportant or false. Connect with your reviewers, ask open-ended questions and really listen to get to the bottom of the issue. This demonstrates that you care about their business.
Don’t post or purchase fake positive reviews to combat the negative ones. This doesn’t work and, if you are discovered, it can lead to both loss of consumer trust and legal troubles. Companies like Samsung have been investigated and fined for such behavior.
The right way to handle customer reviews
If handled correctly, customer reviews online can be a way to spark engagement and dialogue with consumers. Instead of seeing them as a nuisance, look at these reviews as a way to gain fans and improve your business.
For every complaint, there are likely to be a dozen other unhappy customers with the same issue who simply and quietly took their business elsewhere. You can’t fix the problems you don’t know about, so paying attention to customer reviews can help prevent loss of business.
Do encourage more positive reviews. Many consumers are quick to complain but slow to praise. Most people don’t think about posting a review for a pleasant experience, perhaps because good service is expected. Nevertheless, they may do so if you remind them. You can accomplish this in a number of ways, such as a note at the bottom of your receipts, a friendly sign in your establishment or instructing staff to offer reminders.
Do take the conversation offline if possible. Invite the reviewer to call a specific department or person at your company. This will allow you to directly address the complaint without the confusion of other voices and comments. Once you have resolved the issue satisfactorily, you can then ask the reviewer to share her experience in a follow-up post.
Do treat the reviewer like a real human being. This may seem like a no-brainer, but so many companies get it wrong that it bears repeating. Copying and pasting verbatim from your instruction manual or return policy to solve a complaint will only irritate the customer. Speak and write with a professional but personable tone.
Do hire the right PR firm to help you. Customer reviews can be anywhere, from websites to social media outlets, so you need to be prepared. At Axia Public Relations, we can help you monitor and manage your online reputation. We can also show you how to respond in a way that helps you delight current customers and attract new ones. Contact us today or download our free Online Reputation Management e-book for additional tips and advice.
What’s the worst customer review you’ve ever received? Tell us about it in the comments section.
Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter @axiapr.
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