81% of users search for information online to form an opinion about a company. 93% claim that product and service reviews influence their purchasing decisions. Therefore, companies cannot ignore what is being said and written about them on the internet. Online brand reputation management is one of the top priorities.
To maintain a positive image, brands need to engage with their audience by responding to comments and reviews from users online and monitoring various communication channels.
In this article, we will discuss what online brand reputation is, how to respond to negative customer feedback online, and why it is important to react to positive feedback.
What is online brand reputation
Online brand reputation is the image of a company that is formed by the opinions of users, employees, and partners. It is shaped through mass communication channels from customer reviews, social media comments, and content that mentions the product or service (reviews, compilations, etc.).
Managing brand reputation is a must-have for any business because every company can receive online comments and reviews. People often search for information about companies before making a purchase and base their decisions on it.
Do not confuse the notion of online business reputation with brand image, as brand image is the image that a business creates from scratch. Reputation cannot be invented: people will leave reviews and comments whether you like it or not. It is nearly impossible to control people's opinions. Therefore, the only thing a business can do is protect its reputation online.
What are the reasons for working with reputation
Managing online reputation provides the following benefits:
- Consistent flow of customers who make purchases based on positive reviews or the way the brand addresses issues mentioned in comments and reviews.
- Increased loyalty and trust in the brand. Responding to customer comments on the internet shows that the company listens to its audience and is ready to communicate. This approach attracts customers and encourages users to stay with the brand.
- Ability to mitigate crises by addressing conflicts promptly and preventing serious consequences.
- Attractiveness to employees and partners who value a positive online business reputation.
How online reputation management works and what is ORM
There are two ways to work with reputation: do it yourself or hire an agency. In both cases, Online Reputation Management (ORM) is used - a methodology that shapes a company's image online by monitoring and addressing negative comments and reviews, and creating a positive information field around the brand.
Reputation on the internet is formed through marketing channels, review sites, comments on social media, blogs, reviews on marketplaces, and expert comments.
Replacing negative content with positive one is done through Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) - cleaning up the first page of search results from negative reviews. This usually involves adding new positive opinions, reviews, and expert content. Through SERM, online reputation is improved because people simply don't get to the negative comments.
Another method that affects reputation management is the use of influencer marketing or hidden marketing. In this approach, the company is protected not by an official employee, but by a seemingly satisfied customer. This person participates in discussions, comments on other reviews, and promotes the brand.
This is how influencer marketing works: we can't understand whether it is native advertising or a natural review of a person. Seeming natural is a characteristic feature of a quality hidden marketing.
Usually, reputation management methods are used in combination with others. However, it is important to know how to respond correctly to different types of comments on the internet at every stage of the process.
How to Respond the Reviews and Feedback from Clients
It is important not to ignore the opinions of your audience. Firstly, it shows disrespect towards your customers. Secondly, you never know where a person who expressed their negative feedback might take their experience further. Therefore, respond to and address both negative and positive comments and reviews.
Responding promptly is important before other users join the discussion and expand it. Therefore, monitor comments and reviews constantly not only on social media platforms and review websites but also on third-party resources where users share their stories related to brands.
For instance, Jeulia reacted to the negative review on a third-party social media, and it was a good decision: the client is happy and intends to buy more.
Stay polite and positive, even when you deal with an aggressive or unfriendly customer.
Avoid the use of generic phrases like "Your opinion is really important to us." and respond to each review individually.
In the example below, the brand doesn't even personalize the response addressing the customer as "Dear Guest" without mentioning the name. Also, the entire response appears to be templated.
Maintaining a consistent tone of voice in brand comments means preserving the same communication style as used on other company platforms.
For example, the response from a company selling pet supplies matches the witty style of the customer's review and even builds upon it.
Respond in clear language and formulate your answer unambiguously. Otherwise, misunderstandings may occur.
How to respond to negative comments
Negative feedback can be constructive, when there are reasons and justifications for dissatisfaction, and it can also be trolling, where there may not be a real issue. The goal of a troll is to provoke, mock the brand, or express themselves online.
How to work with constructive criticism
When dealing with constructive criticism, the classic approach is to introduce yourself, express gratitude for the feedback, apologize if necessary, and offer a solution to the problem if the customer's case is clear. If there are no details provided, it's important to first gather more information.
However, it's common for brands to immediately ask clarifying questions, as exemplified by JetBlue in the provided example.
Transferring communication into private messages is a common practice. There's no need to be afraid of engaging with customers in the comments, but if resolving an issue requires personal information (such as phone number, order number, etc.), it is justified to take the conversation to private messages.
Tell what actions you are going to undertake to deal with the situation if it doesn't disclose the customer's personal data.
Don't end the conversation abruptly when the question is resolved; always conclude the communication on a positive note.
Sometimes it is enough to simply thank them for the comment and respond that you will take the customers' feedback into account. This approach is suitable when the comment or review does not indicate any specific issue.
Although in some cases brands go into details and try to clean their reputation, as in the example.
How to respond to trolling
First option: don't respond at all if you are confident that the comment was made by a "troll." Typically, these are people with fake accounts without profile photos, and their negative comments appear consistently, not only on your account. Trolls don't provide specific details and often engage in emotional communication.
In the example below there is nothing to say in response as the review is not constructive and aimed at offending the owner of the restaurant, although the profile looks real.
Second option: clarify the details. If it's a troll or a deliberately negative comment from competitors, it's unlikely that there will be any further dialogue.
An example below demonstrates exactly this case. The company decided to answer in order to clarify the situation in front of others who can read that accusation, though waiting for any further reply of that profile is pointless.
How to respond to neutral comments
Sometimes users leave comments to ask questions. It's important to respond to them openly because other people can see those interactions. Ignoring customers can negatively impact their loyalty. When answering questions, follow the general guidelines for responding to comments, and it's also important to provide supporting arguments or information.
That's how the brand reacted to the neutral customer comment.
And here's another example of a detailed response.
How to respond to positive reviews
The main thing is to respond rather than ignore. People have shown their attention and are waiting for your reaction. You can simply thank them for the review or positive comment.
And the best way is to say thanks and encourage a person to buy more.
Or else you could just chat with the customer in a positive manner.
Should negative comments be deleted?
This is a controversial question because deleting a comment can provoke even more negativity from the user, especially if they are a real person rather than a "troll". Such a customer may turn to other platforms (review websites).
You can delete a comment if:
- The user is insulting the brand or other people.
- The user is violating community guidelines.
Be sure to provide a reason for deleting the comment and offer alternative contact options for further communication.
The reputation of a brand online is formed by the collective opinions of customers, employees, and brand partners who mention the company in their content, write comments, and reviews.
Managing reputation is necessary to continually attract customers, maintain loyalty, and build trust. This typically involves reacting to negative feedback and replacing it with positive comments about the brand.
It is important to respond to users rather than ignore or delete their comments (except in the case of offensive behavior). When dealing with negative feedback, it is advisable to thank the person for their review, apologize, inquire about details, or offer a solution immediately. Asking follow-up questions can help identify "trolls" who won't provide specific information.
It is also important to respond to positive reviews and comments by expressing gratitude, suggesting future purchases, or encouraging customers to return. Don't forget to address customer inquiries. Always maintain a positive tone, respond quickly, and be clear in your communication.
The article was originally published here.