How to Manage Your Brand on Review and Rating Sites - dummies

How to Manage Your Brand on Review and Rating Sites

By Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

Most brand owners care about customer reviews and ratings, because what people say can make or break brand reputations. Take the following three steps to manage your presence on review sites and improve the odds that people say good things often enough to overshadow the occasional and likely inevitable one-star rating someone lobs your way.

Claim your presence on review sites

If you aren’t sure which review sites are important to your business, ask your customers. In person or through surveys, learn which sites they turn to when making business or product choices. Likely your findings will lead you to some of the following review collection points:

  • Almost any consumer-serving brand can benefit by claiming presence on Yelp, Google Places for Business, and CitySearch.

  • If you’re in the travel business, your customers or those who influence them most likely use TripAdvisor.

  • Restaurant-goers count on sites like UrbanSpoon, OpenTable, Zagat, ChowHound, and others that reign in regional areas.

  • Depending on your business sector — legal, medical, consumer electronics, and so on — there’s likely a set of review sites where customers and clients weigh in, and where you need to keep your ear to the grapevine.

Encourage reviews

Here’s your goal: Get your customers to say great things so that when some malcontented customer (or the friend of a competitor, or someone who wandered in on the one day your brand experience was sub-par), the praise will drown out the pan. Take these steps:

  • Display review site logos in your business and on your web pages so people know where to go to share their experiences.

  • Personally invite best customers to share their opinions. Make it easy by providing links or handing them cards with your review URLs. You can give them a next-visit discount or offer with the request, but you can’t reward or try to bias the review. Google warns about paying for reviews, writing negative reviews of competitors, posting reviews on behalf of others, or misrepresenting your identity or affiliation when posting reviews.

  • Cultivate a steady stream of reviews rather than a slew of reviews over a short period. When review sites see a burst of good reviews, they look into whether incentivizing is going on.

Don’t lose your cool over an occasional bad review

Sooner or later, someone will write a review you don’t like. When the inevitable happens, take these two steps:

  • Look for any truth you can find in the complaint or criticism. Even if the transgression was minor, fix it. Then use your blog, the review comment box, your Facebook page, and — best of all — direct contact with the reviewer to describe the changes you’ve made. Telling a disgruntled customer, and all who read about that person’s experience, that you care is often more valuable than the rant is damaging.

  • Don’t get defensive and don’t try to tell the customer they’re wrong. You’ll escalate the argument and give it even more online attention. Instead, double your efforts to overshadow the rant by generating good reviews, with full knowledge that people reading review sites expect a bad rating from the occasional can’t-be-pleased customer.