With nearly a decade of experience managing online reviews, our team at Hay There Social Media has seen it all – from angry customers venting about an undesirable experience, to reviews of gratitude and praise that leave us in tears.

There’s no doubt the positive emotional power of reviews can drive sales…or leave the customer or patient uninterested in visiting.

Sometimes, managing online reviews is an art – but sometimes it is a science. We’re chatting about the “science” of online reputation and sharing 5 things businesses should consider when responding to online reviews:

1. Process, process, process

Having a process in place prior to responding to reviews is key. For starters, consider where your business actually gets reviews…and go there. Do you need to set-up a business account or link multiple locations to one page? Let us help!

From there, it’s critical to have a point person who checks the reviews on a daily basis and decides if they are able to be answered right away, or if further investigation is needed.

When it comes to tracking the reviews, it can be as simple as using a Google spreadsheet. That way the entire team may be in the loop and no stone gets left unturned.

2. Highlight the good stuff

While it may feel easy to let the positive reviews go unanswered, they are important to acknowledge. They can also be a fantastic motivator for employees.

For one of our clients, our emails highlighting positive reviews is a silver lining each week for their hard-working team. Making sure staff sees the positive feedback provides employees with affirmation that they are doing a great job and helps empower them to keep reaching for higher customer satisfaction rates.

3. Turn negatives into positives, or a source of improvement

As far as negative reviews, always remember the golden rule: Leave your emotions at the door when responding.

While your business may have a different story than what is being presented publicly, it’s best to have the argument offline. For some businesses, this is easier said than done, which is why hiring an outside company to handle reviews can be appealing. This is because generally, an outside firm like Hay There can be more objective and won’t fire off an angry response that could blow up into a bigger deal.

Through our experience, we have found there is no better way to acknowledge concern than by picking up the phone and speaking with the customer or patient directly. Our team can craft careful responses that leave the customer or patient feeling heard without needing to over-apologize or get defensive, and still look good in the public eye. Many times, when the customer or patient feels heard, they will actually change their review to positive!

Responding to negative reviews is essential, but truly what you *do* with that criticism that can make all the difference. If you are consistently hearing the same feedback, it may be time to see where improvements can be made on an internal level.

NOTE: If your business is a medical practice, beware of HIPAA compliance guidelines when responding, as you should never provide medical advice online, or reveal someone’s personal information.

4. Combating review overwhelm

If you have a larger business or run multiple locations that receive large amounts of reviews, it may be best to get help from special reputation management software that can aggregate reviews. Examples of platforms include Bird Eye, Podium and Sprout Social. Each platform is a bit different, but all have the ability to really help larger businesses track reviews.

If combating reviews is overwhelming, it may be time to hire an expert to assess the various tools and suggest what can garner the best results for your business.

Ignoring online reviews isn’t an option. Most people seek out online reviews when researching a business and seeing that reviews go unanswered can be a turnoff.

5. Think beyond traditional review sites

Thinking beyond the obvious customer review platforms such as Yelp, Google+ and Facebook, consider what your employees are saying about working for your business too. What is your presence like on websites such as Glassdoor or Indeed? Being a good company means hiring good people and good people typically examine how a company treats their employees by searching for feedback. If this a blind spot for your business, we are happy to help.

At Hay There, we are not only experts at social content, but we thrive on providing top-notch customer service and online review management for businesses of all sizes. Contact us and let us help your business today.

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