Why Your Business MUST Have a Reputation Management Strategy

A few weeks ago I wrote a post explaining why you, as a marketer or business owner, should be putting some serious time and thought into generating online customer reviews. While many companies struggle to generate more customer reviews, mostly because they haven't planned and implemented a process to do so, the flip-side of that problem is when customers are writing online customer reviews but the company is doing nothing to manage their reputation by analyzing and responding to them.

Ignoring customer reviews is an even bigger problem than not working to generate more reviews in the first place; here's why.

Which of the florists in the following image would you choose to call? Of the florists with ratings – April, Robin Wood, and Hyde Park – they all rate fairly close to one another, with Robin Wood being slightly ahead. So I'd probably only consider those 3, unless I had some outside information about the others. And with 70% of US consumers saying they regularly look at reviews posted on consumer websites to help with shopping, I'd bet most people would do the same.

Local SERP for "florist"

Next I want to read the reviews; after all, everyone's heard the oft-quoted statistic that an angry customer will tell 8-10 people about his or her experience, so it's quite possible these customers were just unrealistic in their expectations and/or a larger portion of unhappy customers wrote reviews than happy customers. Makes sense right?

So what do we get when we view April Florist's reviews? Not a single review has been responded to by someone at the company:

Screenshot of April Florist reviews

Everyone knows there are usually two sides to a story. The amazing thing about this is that April Florist is already ranking on the front page for "florist" in downtown Cincinnati. For a small florist, Google could be one of their biggest sources of new business. Google's keyword planner shows over 5,000 searches per month for terms related to "florist" in Cincinnati!

What's more, April Florist may very well be a freaking awesome florist! But their Google reviews steer me in the direction of their competition. This is such a wasted opportunity.

Now, imagine what would happen if April florist not only added 20-30 great reviews, but they went a step further and responded to every negative review in a way that showed they genuinely cared and wanted to fix the situation.

As a consumer, I would see that this company has a few unhappy customers (who doesn't?) but most are happy and the company shows that they're making an effort and that they care about the unhappy ones. Suddenly they go from one of my last choices to my top choice.

Of course, this has to be done correctly. You don't want to respond to negative reviews in a way that makes things worse. But it is important that you do respond. Arguably you should be responding to all reviews, but you have to crawl before you can walk.

With companies like Google, Yelp, Amazon, and many others putting so many resources into online reviews, it's clear that they're important. Don't blow such an incredibly opportunity to set yourself apart from your competition.

If you don't have a strategy in place to collect, review, and respond to online customer reviews yet, isn't it time to start?

John Crenshaw
John Crenshaw
UFO company founder. 15+ years experience in performance marketing.
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