Having a digital presence as a company or brand in 2017 is well...necessary. People can pull up and easily access information about your brand or business within seconds. They can see who follows or likes your social media pages, your company culture, and how your brand presents itself. And of course, if you're a goods retailer they hope and expect to have a seamless shopping experience online too. However, what we want to explore about digital presence is past the UX or trendy web design..It's the new sales make or break: online reviews.
Online reviewing is something that is relatively new for businesses; having really exploded within the last 10 years. Amazon can be viewed as the large proponent and influencer here. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook are other big platforms that have driven the concept of customer reviews. Additionally, the traditional business directory YellowPages also went digital, and industry specific information and review sites such as Angie's List, ZocDoc, HealthGrades, Houzz, and more now exist.
Some of those platforms will already have a company page for you, which you'll want to make sure your business claims as soon as possible. That way you'll have control over content and also customer interactions, such as being able to respond to a review as the "owner" of the business.
1. Social Media Maintenance - You can choose from several social media platforms. However, reviews are not an option for every social media site. As a business owner you'll want to make sure you have a presence on sites that make sense for your industry, especially those where customers can leave reviews. If you're not on any social media sites or industry related platforms, start with Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp. To keep your business relevant and on the minds of customers and prospects be sure your social media manager thoughtfully curates and regularly posts content, photos, or videos on the aforementioned sites.
Furthermore, Facebook, Google My Business, and Yelp in particular aid in search engine optimization, which means when a potential customer googles your business, those three sites would rank on the first displayed SERPS (search engine result pages). Once you create and verify your business online, your online visibility and rankings will dramatically change. Keep in mind, social media site users on Facebook and Yelp continue to increase. Users can review your business without you even verifying your business page. So be sure to be proactive and create or verify your page(s) as soon as possible.
Additionally, depending on how much time your office staff has or if you have a social media manager, other sites that add to your legitimacy and digital reach include: LinkedIn, YouTube, Bing Business, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. However, it should be noted that each site has its own "personality" and type of audience, which should be kept in mind when posting content.
2. Make The Right Collateral - While your business should seek online reviews, consider creating a variety of collateral to provide your customers to let them know to go online to check out your sites or remind them to please review. Having social media cards/stickers (Yelp/Facebook/Trip Advisor) on your front door or within a purchase package will help keep reviews in mind for customers.
Marketing collateral such as a postcard thanking customers for their recent visit and requesting a review (listing all of your company's social media sites where they can like/follow/and review your company) is a good start. Consider having signs in your checkout area or graphics that depict your company's social media sites and having your last point of customer contact (ex. cashiers) mention reviews as a part of their checkout spiel.
Beyond print collateral consider making creative "review videos" that digitally showcase your customer reviews across a variety of platforms. You can upload your created review video on YouTube and share your video on Facebook, LinkedIn, your website, Instagram and more. We love all things Adobe, consider using Adobe Spark for a quick slide share video. Additionally, you can have the review video looping in a relevant location at your store. Giving new and seasoned customers alike further confidence in your business as they view your 5 star reviews from other customers. This also serves as a reminder to customers that your company is on social media and that they too can review their experience.
3. Follow Up - This is important for a variety of reasons. Beyond social media, any business should have some sort of customer relationship management tool or system that they can use to encourage reviews. This includes communication methods, such as semi-regular emails to customers beyond pertaining to their recent purchase.
Emails will be particularly helpful in efforts to keep negative reviews offline. Just as a glowing positive review can be the impetus for making a purchase or visiting your store, a scathing negative review can have the opposite effect and simply doesn't look good. In your CRM methods, incorporate workflows. Workflows are a series of emails that relate to a campaign or objective. Your first follow-up email can include a link to a yes or no question, such as "Would you recommend our store/company to family or friends?". If the answer is "no", consider sending a link to a survey to request further feedback. When it comes down to it, businesses are people based, so take heed to any suggestions and constructive feedback, and be sure to address it with your customers and if necessary your company employees. For those that selected "yes" send them an email providing links to each social media site where they can share their positive experiences.
Also to keep your business relevant to your customers, be sure to send them Holiday emails or notifications of new posts on your company blog so they continue to be engaged.
4. Make It An Important Part Of Your Business - If you're a brick and mortar store, make sure that from the front desk or greeter, to the cashier and managers, that each one of your business's employees understands that a negative encounter can impact the outcome of a review. Customer satisfaction and quality of service should be at the heart of your business. It is after all a customer-centric world.
If you're not brick and mortar make sure your correspondence with customers is clear, timely, and cordial.
Truly, garnering reviews starts on the phone or the moment the customer walks through your office doors. Your office staff should be courteous and provide the utmost level of customer service; employees are a reflection of you/your company. And if they're rude, people will post about it! All in all a customer service mentality will help to seamlessly tie into requesting customer reviews.