Online Reputation Management – What You Need to Know

Social Tap Blog - Online Reputation Management

Working with brands and venues to manage their reputation online is a large part of what we do for our food and hospitality clients at Social Tap. From medium-sized hospitality establishments through to large food brands, responding to reviews quickly, accurately and in a way that matches the business’ brand voice is critically important. In fact, best practice for managing reviews is one of the most common things we discuss with our clients.

Because this is such a hot topic for food and hospitality business managers and owners, I have compiled a list of my most commonly asked questions about Reputation Management and online reviews.

What is my online reputation?

AT Internet describes online reputation as “the reputation of a company, person, product, service or any other element on the Internet and digital platforms. This online reputation is impacted by the content an organisation distributes, the reactions of and interactions with web users, activity on social networks, etc.” Meaning your reputation is essentially anything being said about your business online. This could include social media posts, review sites, blogs, your Google listing and your own website copy. You should know and research what is being said about your business, just as you would your personal reputation.

Do review sites matter?

Consumers are turning to online reviews more and more when researching a business. In fact, 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business and consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business. If a potential customer is looking to trust your business with hosting an important anniversary dinner or long dreamed about holiday, you can bet they will be looking at your online reputation before making that booking!

Should I reply to my reviews?

The short answer is yes. But I know you’re not reading this for the short answer, so here is the long answer – with four reasons to justify it.

1. Don’t just think of the customer who has left you the bad review, think of the future customer reading that review.

St Blog Reputation Management Should I Reply

It’s understandable that you would be annoyed at this person. They have left you a one-star review because they had to wait 15 minutes for a coffee on a busy Saturday morning. If only they had spoken to you about it when they were there, you would have made it up to them; offered them a discount or a free coffee on their next visit.

As much as it feels they have treated you unfairly, you should not think about replying for the complainant’s sake. Think of the customer that is researching your business, and trying to decide whether to book with or visit your business. Generally, they are not so concerned that someone has had a bad experience at your establishment after all these things happen. They are more concerned with how you, as the business owner/manager handles the complaint.

If you reply in a way that shows that you understand their problem, address their criticism (Dan Virgillito – The Definitive Guide to Online Reputation Management) as well as suggest a resolution, then anyone reading the review and your reply will see you care about customer feedback and make an effort to resolve problems, therefore you are more likely to care about them and their experience at your venue.

2. Win them back!

In point one we discussed the importance of replying to reviews, not for the complainant but, for the future customer. In saying that, there’s still something to the old adage ‘the first rule of customer service is the customer is always right (even if they’re not)’. If there is still some level of truth to that statement then, why not try to win them back if you can? Best practice would involve taking it offline to email or phone and discussing the problem directly, then winning them back with your amazing customer service skills.

3. Review pages will outrank you.

Review pages such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and of course the Google Maps listing on the right-hand side of the page (Known as the Knowledge Panel) often outrank small to medium businesses who don’t have a strong SEO strategy. “Because of the scale and SEO muscle behind these sites, they often find their way to the top for thousands of local search queries, leaving small businesses behind in their wake.”
Therefore, in most cases, people will see your reviews before even navigating to your site. This leaves you with two options, be in the game, or out of the game and let praise go without thanks and criticism go unanswered. I know which venue I would prefer to give my business to. The one that cares about what their customers think! 

4. Did I mention it helps your SEO?

Google themselves have listed “Managing and responding to reviews” as one of the ways to maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results.” Need I say more? Improving your local listings on Google should be all the motivation you need. If you are still unconvinced please review points 1-3 again…

We really stuffed up, I don’t want to address this online. I just want it to go away.

St Blog Reputation Management We Stuffed Up

First off, don’t stress, it happens more often than you would think. However, yes, it’s still important to reply to that embarrassing review even if you don’t want to mention or own up to it publicly. One strategy is to take it offline and deal directly with the customer – replying with a line such as –

So sorry to hear that about your experience with us. We would love to discuss this matter with you further, would you be comfortable sending us your email or contact number via private message so we can resolve this with you as soon as possible. 

This approach neither admits to the ‘mouse in the cake’ or denies it. So the complainant can be managed offline and anyone reading the review can see you have addressed this major issue. On platforms such as Facebook, this approach also reduces the viral impact many back and forth comments on a review will have, making it less visible in the ‘most helpful’ tab.

What’s the best way to reply to a negative review?

There are a few simple rules to follow when replying to negative reviews:

  • Admit your mistakes, people will respect you for it.
  • Reply in a timely manner
  • Always be courteous and polite
  • Take it offline if needed (see above)
  • Don’t be afraid to defend your position if you truly believe the review is unjust or inaccurate. Be careful to do it in a professional and unemotional way

Or check out Neil Patel’s (The Godfather of modern SEO) tips for replying to negative reviews below.

How do I know what people are saying about me?

Monitoring your reputation online has grown to be big business and there are many online tools that can help you manage your reputation beyond the native platforms such as TripAdvisor Management Centre, Google My Business and Facebook Business Manager. Here at Social Tap, we have worked with a number of them and below is a list of our top five tools.

  • Bright Local while aimed more at local SEO, this tool has a fantastic monitoring service for the majority of review sites
  • Awario crawls over 13 billion pages a day monitoring them for mentions of your brand – better suited to medium to large brands
  • Podium provides simple messaging, reviews, and insights for local business
  • Local Clarity help you engage with all of your customers in all of your locations from a single control panel
  • Review Pro is focused on hotel and resort review and reputation management. Listen and act on guest feedback quickly and efficiently to exceed expectations and increase revenue at your hotel

I still need help. Where to from here?

Great, that’s what Social Tap are here for. We would love to chat with you about how we can help improve your reputation online. Find out more by clicking on the link below or contacting us.

Reputation Management & Social Customer Service