One of the most fundamental parts of your brand’s online reputation is customer reviews. Having a strategy in place for monitoring, responding to, and requesting new online reviews can feel like a full-time job, even for a small business. But what about national or multi-location businesses? The prospect of keeping tabs on hundreds of reviews across Yelp, Google, or industry-specific sites can sound dizzying.
That was the challenge Go Fish Digital summarized in a recent case study (you can view and download the case study PDF by clicking here). Online review management for franchises or multiple location businesses presents its own set of obstacles, but we found these strategies to be the most helpful.
Flagging Reviews at “Striking Distance” Locations
Flagging negative reviews for removal is one of our favorite ways to quickly improve a business’s star rating. What you’ll need is knowledge of a review site’s content guidelines, and a detail-oriented team to sift through the reviews and find flagging opportunities. Some violations we often see for larger businesses include review-spamming multiple locations or reviews based on second-hand experiences.
Using tools like our Yelp Calculator, we identify which locations are within striking distance of the next-highest star rating (usually within 1 or 2 reviews). We start with these pages to try and uncover any flaggable negative reviews. In our case study, we had a near 50% success rate of getting flagged reviews removed by Yelp. With this approach, you can quickly turn around the star ratings of some of your less-reviewed locations.
Use Your CRM System
Before you turn to your Customer Relationship Management software to request reviews, be sure to check your target review site’s policies. For example, sites like Yelp prohibit business owners from explicitly requesting reviews.
But you can turn to your most loyal customers for reviews on most platforms. We have found the most success requesting reviews from highly-engaged customers, such as those belonging to a loyalty program. You could also consider segmenting your customers by frequency of visits, date of their most recent business interaction, or location to encourage them to leave a new review online.
Don’t be afraid to A/B test different review request strategies. Maybe customers in California respond better to review requests via text message, or new customers respond best to requests at the point of sale.
Identify Important Review Themes
When it comes to Online Reputation Management, it can be easy to treat the symptoms of customer unhappiness, but not take care of the root cause of the issue. Online reviews are a symptom, but you can analyze the context of these reviews to reveal underlying problems that must be addressed.
We like to try and identify “swing” topics – certain topics that tend to pop up in negative and positive reviews most frequently. For a restaurant franchise, it may be a certain dish. For a home services business, it might be punctuality (positive reviews about a service person being on time, negative reviews about tardiness). Identifying these topics with some basic text analysis tools, or even pulling a sample of reviews manually, can help your business solve problems that apply across locations.
Sometimes the solution to one or two key issues in your business can help stop the influx of new negative reviews.
Standardize a Review Response Strategy
First and foremost: do not use a strict template for responding to reviews. This can be especially challenging to avoid if you are overseeing multiple locations and hundreds of reviews each year, but it’s worth the extra effort. What we recommend is that you use loose “scripts” for responding to common complaints or (hopefully) positive compliments. Working off a script ensures that all responses are consistent across locations.
There are a few important things to consider when responding to negative reviews, which you can read more about in our write-up on review responses. Identify a point-person or team who can serve as the brand “voice” and work off a strategy that includes responding quickly, empathizing with the customer, and pointing them toward a resolution.
The goal is to offer more than a canned response that could come across as robotic and insincere. Leave room in your response for some personalization – it just might result in the reviewer updating or removing their review.
Be sure to check out our latest ORM case study to see what impact these strategies have on star ratings of franchises or multiple location businesses. Should you have any questions about how Go Fish Digital can improve your online reputation management, you can contact us here.