Avoid These 7 Mistakes in Online Review Management That Can Harm Your Business or Brand

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Avoid These 7 Mistakes in Online Review Management That Can Harm Your Business or Brand

Mistake #1: Paying for Good Reviews

Perhaps your company has lately received a spate of negative reviews. Perhaps the company is in a rut and requires all the help it can get to recover. Perhaps the brand has just launched and needs to generate some favourable buzz.


Whatever the case may be, it makes perfect sense to get things started by paying for positive evaluations, right? Simply offer a discount, gift card, or unique item, then sit back and watch the 5-star reviews stream in.


Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that easy.


The issue with this method is that Google My Business, Yelp, and most other platforms have policies prohibiting businesses from paying for positive ratings (or offering other incentives, like freebies).


Yelp is particularly clear on this subject, with one Support Center post (clearly headlined “Don’t Ask For Reviews”) instructing businesses not to “give freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange for reviews,” noting that doing so “can turn off knowledgeable consumers and may also be unlawful.”


Yelp also takes precautions to warn customers about reviews that violate its regulations, which it marks with different notifications based on the severity of the infraction.


If Yelp decides that a positive review was bought rather than earned, it will issue a “Compensated Activity Alert” (pictured in the screenshot below).


If you don’t want your brand to be publicly embarrassed by Yelp, never incentivize your customers, friends, relatives, or employees to lie about their experience with your company.

Aside from making you seem bad (or having you banned) on Yelp and other platforms, buying positive reviews can lead to an even more serious concern for your business: the possibility of FTC fines or lawsuits.


Remember how, in the article we cited, Yelp used the phrase “may also be illegal”? Their support centre was not exaggerating, as many businesses have discovered the hard way. In 2019, one retailer was fined nearly $13 million for using fake Amazon reviews — and the FTC warned over 700 companies as recently as October 2021 that using “influencers, fake reviews, and reviews by customers with connections to the company” could result in fines of more than $43,000 per violation


Check out our post on why you should never buy reviews — as well as some safer ways for getting positive ratings — to learn more. Otherwise, here are some quick pointers.


  1. If your company needs more reviews, we recommend using a review generation service that specializes in gathering consumer feedback.
  2. If you have a lot of reviews but just a few of them are good, look for recurring themes or complaints and take aggressive efforts to address them.

For example, if you’re getting a lot of 1-star or 2-star reviews regarding things like “poor customer service” or “unhelpful staff members,” you should evaluate your team’s performance rather than trying to hide the bad reviews by buying bogus 5-star ratings.

Mistake #2: Not Responding to Customer Reviews

Some companies or brands ignore the significance of reacting to customer reviews, which should be a key component of any thorough reputation management effort. There are two types of errors that we commonly observe in this category:


  1. Responding to favorable reviews is not necessary because the reviewers are already satisfied.
  2. Not replying to negative reviews because engaging with an angry reviewer appears unsafe or unnecessary.

The issue with both of these cases is that by failing to respond to customer criticism, your clients’ businesses are jeopardized:


  1. Missing out on possibilities to acquire uncertain customers who are reading reviews.
  2. You’re passing on opportunities to market limited-time discounts, customer referral programs, and other unique offers or deals that you’d like to alert customers about.
  3. Failure to meet consumers’ expectations that businesses will respond to their evaluations – ideally, within 24 hours (as discussed later in this article).

The above applies regardless of whether customer reviews are positive or negative — and those aren’t the only risks to your clients. Here are two more dangers to be aware of:


  1. By failing to respond to unfavorable reviews, you’re passing up an opportunity to persuade and retain the consumer – which is far less expensive than gaining new customers.
  2. By failing to reply to favorable evaluations, you transmit the idea — even if unintentionally — that customer opinion is unimportant. Even devoted customers may be turned off by this.

Avoid these dangers by responding to your customers’ evaluations – and doing so consistently, whether they’re positive or bad. Here are some step-by-step solutions for dealing with each:


Mistake #3: Not Responding to Reviews Quickly Enough

Perhaps it was due to technical issues, such as improper site logins. Perhaps it was caused by the COVID-related troubles that have hit so many firms in the last year. Perhaps it was due to the time constraints of running your firm or marketing your brand.


However, whatever the issue was, old reviews piled up as a result, and you now have a response backlog that spans back weeks or months. Don’t fall into this trap, which is mistake number four on our list: failing to respond to reviews in a timely manner.


But why should you not? And what exactly does “timely” mean?


According to recent data, a sizable amount of consumers — around one in every five — expect to receive a response within 24 hours or less. Some agencies may extend their response timelines, but we don’t suggest it, especially since so many evaluations contain time-sensitive remarks or questions, such as reviews pertaining to:


  1. Pests, heat, flooding, ice, service outages/disruptions, or other similar problems
  2. Concerns about health and safety
  3. Concerns regarding forthcoming or just paid fees, payments, or charges
  4. Cancellations and registrations
  5. Problems with a product that persist or reoccur (or even an employee)
  6. Deals and limited-time specials
  7. Appointments and scheduling
  8. Unusual circumstances, such as emergency closures or severe weather

Mistake #4: Neglecting Older Reviews

It’s a frequent fallacy that only new reviews of a business are important. While recent evaluations are more valuable to consumers on average, remarks up to three months old still have the capacity to influence purchase behaviour.


This information is based on the most recent iteration of BrightLocal’s Local Consumer Review Survey, which was published in 2020 and polled over 1,000 people.


According to the report, “86% of consumers say they only look at reviews from the last three months, while a whopping 73% say customer reviews from the last month must affect their choice to use a local business.” According to the report, “50% [of consumers] only consider reviews from the last two weeks.”


What is the key takeaway from this data? Though reviews unavoidably lose some of their clouts with time, the survey authors found that “older evaluations aren’t absolutely worthless (to readers or search engines)” either.


With that in mind, the most reasonable method is to first focus your energy on reviews from the last three months, beginning with the most recent reviews; next, consider replying to reviews that are more than three months old.


Whether the review you’re responding to is three hours old or three months old, the basic rules remain the same: use the reviewer’s name, include personalized content in your response, empathize with the reviewer’s experience, and leave the door open for a follow-up visit or chat — for example,


“We hope we’ll have the opportunity to serve you again soon, [Reviewer Name]!” alternatively, “Please contact our office at [number] or [email address] so that our team can assist you in resolving this.”


If an old review involves a request for assistance or a complaint about an issue, apologize for the delay in responding and tell the reviewer that your team is available to help them make up for their previous negative experience.


In an ideal world, you’ll never have to worry about outdated reviews because your agency or brand would have a mechanism in place to ensure that all reviews receive fast responses from your team.


Reputation Booster delivers that mechanism for businesses through our 24-hour response service.


Our response service, when combined with our secure bespoke dashboard, is meant to effortlessly integrate into your client’s current platform, allowing you — and your clients — to give better service, faster.

Mistake #5: Arguing with the Reviewer

Your staff was friendly, prompt, and professional – but not in this reviewer’s opinion. Despite offering a fantastic product or service, your company is currently being characterized unfairly and erroneously in a review. The customer is omitting key information, making unfounded claims about your employees, or complaining about an incident for which you have no record. So, how do you move from here?

Of course, your first reaction is to safeguard your brand’s reputation. You may be tempted to dispute, defend your behavior, or provide “your side of the story” in your review response. While it may seem rewarding, responding with snark or defensiveness is never a smart choice – even if the reviewer’s tone isn’t exactly kind.


Here’s how we recommend handling this situation instead.


  1. Whether or not you believe the review is justified, you should apologize for the negative experience and reiterate your commitment to resolving the customer’s issue. That includes emphasizing your willingness to help, providing your contact information, and requesting (or encouraging) the reviewer to contact you—not ripping apart their review or demonstrating why it is incorrect.
  2. You can defend your company without being defensive. For example, you could say something like, “We’re sorry to hear that our repair staff’s response time irritated you. This is not the efficient service we intend to provide to our valued residents. We understand your concerns and want to reassure you that our team is ready to assist you in resolving the heating issue as soon as possible.” This type of phrasing helps you to convey that providing excellent customer service is a top priority for your team without being hostile or diminishing the customer’s experience.
  3. If you believe a review is a slander, libel, harassment, or abuse, you can always flag and report the comment. Just don’t misuse this option, or you’ll find yourself on the slippery slope of review censorship, which has been proven to have a negative influence on the firms who utilize it, as we’ll discuss in a subsequent piece.

Mistake #6: Focusing on the Wrong Review Platforms

Don’t get us wrong: every review site relevant to your business is worth keeping an eye on.

After all, even a tiny app or website review might have substantial ramifications for your business if it asserts serious issues such as prejudice or fraud.

To effectively manage your reputations, you must be alert across numerous platforms, which a specialized review management system may help you do more effortlessly.

However, some review outlets are more important to your performance than others. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting to discover and manage them — or, even worse, allocating resources to platforms that your consumers aren’t using.

Here are two points to consider when deciding which review platforms to prioritize for your company:

  1. Size – Some review platforms are simply too massive and popular to be overlooked. In 2020, Yelp, for example, claimed to have collected over 224 million reviews. Facebook and Google are two other key platforms that every business should keep an eye on.
  2. Industry-specific review sites are critical to monitor, even if their visitor counts appear low in comparison to behemoths like Yelp, Google, and Facebook. (Of course, not all industry-focused review sites are “small.”) For example, TripAdvisor, a website mostly dedicated to the hotel and food industries, has “390 million monthly unique visitors.”

For example, if your business predominantly serves clients in the restaurant business, you must watch and respond to reviews not only on Yelp or Google, but also on restaurant-specific sites such as Foursquare, Citysearch, OpenTable, Gayot, Zagat, and Zomato, to mention a few. Depending on the structure of your client base, here are some additional examples of noteworthy, industry-specific review sites that your firm may want to prioritize:


  1. Education — GreatSchools, Niche.com (previously College Prowler), SchoolDigger
  2. Automotive — Cars.com, Edmunds, DealerRater
  3. Healthcare-Healthgrades and ZocDoc are two healthcare websites.

Mistake #7: Using Generic Language to Respond to Reviews

As we’ve stated numerous times in our suggestions on responding to reviews, you should never use generic, “canned,” or boilerplate wording – especially if your goal is to build your client’s reputation as a firm that cares about its community, customers, and/or workers. That takes us to the third error: reply recycling and copy-pasting.


While it is appropriate and even necessary to reiterate certain feelings — for example, regardless of the content of the review, you should always thank the consumer for their input — you should nonetheless change the language you use to express those thoughts.


Here’s an illustration of what we mean.

Never say:

  1. “Many thanks for your feedback, Jim!”
  2. “Thank you for your feedback, Sarah!”
  3. “Thank you for your feedback, Ashley!”

Any consumer (or potential customer) reading your client’s ratings and answers will immediately notice the aforementioned. Here’s a better alternative

Do say:

  1. “Many thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback, Jim!”
  2. “Thank you for providing feedback to our team, Sarah.”
  3. “Hello Ashley, thank you for your remark!”

Yes, it takes a little more work to tailor each review response — but that customization is exactly what modern consumers want. Customizing each response demonstrates:


  1. Viewing and replying to customer evaluations is done by a real person, not a bot.
  2. The company prioritizes the individual feedback it receives from each of its consumers.
  3. If something goes wrong with your service or product, a team or individual is accessible to resolve client complaints.

Ask About Our Review and Reputation Management Platform

We provide solutions to assist your business or brand drive growth in any vertical, from review marketing and automated review generating to review response and management.


Whether your team requires assistance in responding to reviews, you want to gain actionable insights about your company, or you want to increase your efficiency by using a centralized platform, our technology allows you to monitor client listings across 100+ directories, with more available upon request.

Allow Us to Assist You in Increasing Your Online Reputation.

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