It has been more than a few years now that we have all known that customers are more than serious about writing online reviews. They use this tool as a way to inform others about their online and offline purchases. More than 95% of customers will check out reviews before they make a purchase. Of this 95%, approximately 90% of them report that those reviews play a significant role in their buying decisions. This is where reputation management tips are a requirement.
As a franchise owner, your perceived reputation is a tool that you can use to your advantage. While this can go wrong if one of the other locations has an issue, it is just something that you will have to shoulder. The success and failure of online reviews stem from Google’s propensity to feature online reviews above most other results even when the person does not specify the word “reviews” in their search.
When managing a franchise business, it is crucial to coordinate your strategy at every level. This means that every employee must be acting in the best interest of the company. I never said that managing your reputation was going to be easy. With the right tools, processes, and people in place, I think you will find it can be easy given enough time.
In this blog, I will provide you with tips that you can use to execute a cohesive and comprehensive reputation management strategy that can support your reputation grown in nearly any market.
How Far Back Should I Go?
I am going to assume you are reading this blog because you never had an online reputation strategy before. This means you will be starting from scratch. I think it is a valid question to wonder how far back you should go if there are a vast number of reviews to be replied to.
I am not going to tell you that you should respond to every review from the past. That would be illogical. Instead, I recommend that you start from the time you create your strategy and move forward. If you find you have some extra time, it would not be a bad thing to go back for about three months. When you are doing this, make sure to work back one day at a time. Meaning if you have answered all the reviews for today, start on yesterday’s reviews. Whenever you start a day, you must complete the day. Otherwise, people will wonder why one review warranted a response, and another did not. Keep the three-month date fluid. By this, I mean, if you started today, your date should be January 21st. Tomorrow, you would move that day up by one day. Eventually, your date will move to the day you started, and you can focus on only the reviews that come in that day.
How Often Should I Respond to Reviews?
The rule is that you should never let more than 72 hours pass before you look at and respond to reviews. However, the faster you respond to respond to reviews, the better you will look in the eyes of the consumer.
Recent studies show that customers expect a timely response. Of those customers who responded, about 55% of them stated they expect a company to respond in 24 hours or less. 30% agreed it was acceptable to respond in three days. Still, with the majority of your customers wanting a response in under 24 hours, you might be better off to react quickly.
I want to point out something rather important. When you are responding, no matter how long you take to respond, you should be consistent. Meaning, if you like a positive review in a matter of minutes, you should be answering negative reviews just as quickly. It looks terrible when you wait to respond to negative reviews longer than you wait to respond to positive reviews. However, don’t let your sense of urgency to respond to a negative review cloud your judgment in writing a great response without anger or animosity. If you need time to get over a negative review, then you should. Let the negative reviews dictate your length of time to respond.
As A New Franchisee, Can I Start Fresh with Google Reviews?
In a word, no. However, there are several ways that you can rapidly improve your ratings that you should take advantage of.
The first thing you are going to want to do is to make sure that you are providing a better service than the previous owner. This may mean that you have to search for new help. By this, I mean, there may be people that will need to be let go. If they are not performing to your standards, it might be time to part ways.
Once you have your “dream team” assembled, it is time to go to work. Start by asking every customer to write a review for you. You must offer them no promises of payment in exchange for this review. Google will find out, and you will suffer as a result. It is better to have organic reviews so that you can make additional changes you may not have thought of.
Finally, you should start an email campaign to get customers back into your store. Simple coupons should do the trick. This is not paying them for a review, as there is no guarantee that they will leave a review once you get them into the store. Half the battle is to get them into the store, though. The other half is to make their experience one that they will be itching to write a review.
Online reputation is not as hard as some would like for you to believe. Doing simple things right will do most of the work for you. Outside of that, you will want to make sure that you are always doing things that make your customers want to write a review even without asking them. I wish you the best of luck as a franchise owner.