Which of these goals sounds harder to accomplish?
Managing online reviews of your own business, which you’ve spent years immersed in and whose values, language, industry, and corporate culture you understand intuitively?
Or, managing reviews on behalf of another business — while still ensuring that all of its customers have the same positive, authentic, on-brand experience?
For digital agencies that provide reputation or review management services, tackling the second scenario is a daily reality — and a daily challenge. And, like with any other challenge, there are certain pitfalls and hurdles you need to watch out for. We’ll discuss a few of them in this article, and — perhaps more importantly — provide you with effective solutions and alternatives. If you want to keep your clients (and your contracts) this year, make sure your agency avoids these four review management mistakes in 2021.
4 Common Mistakes Review Management Agencies and Brands Must Avoid
Below, our response scribes have compiled a list of four essential review management “do’s and don’ts” that agencies and resellers should be aware of. We’ll take a look at the problems with — and solutions to — some common yet hazardous reputation management scenarios, including:
- Underestimating the importance of review response to your overall reputation management strategy.
- Focusing too many of your resources on the “wrong” review sites (and by extension, overlooking the right ones).
- Using boilerplate language that neither aligns with clients’ branding nor conveys genuine care for their customers.
- Taking too long to respond to the reviews that your clients receive from their customers.
Mistake #1: Not Responding to Customer Reviews
Some agencies or brands overlook the importance of responding to customer reviews, which should actually play a vital role in any comprehensive reputation management campaign. There are two common types of mistakes that we tend to see in this category:
- Not responding to positive reviews because the reviewers are already satisfied.
- Not responding to negative reviews because it seems risky or pointless to engage with an angry reviewer.
The problem with both of these scenarios is that, by not responding to customer feedback, your clients’ businesses are:
- Losing opportunities to attract undecided consumers who are browsing reviews.
- Losing opportunities to market limited-time discounts, customer referral programs, and other special offers or deals you want to notify customers of.
- Failing to satisfy consumer expectations that businesses will respond to their reviews — optimally, within 24 hours (as we’ll discuss later in this article).
The above applies whether customer reviews are positive or negative — and those aren’t the only dangers for your clients. Here are two additional hazards to keep in mind:
- By failing to respond to negative reviews, you’re wasting a chance to persuade and retain the customer — which costs substantially less than acquiring new customers.
- By failing to respond to positive reviews, you’re sending the message — even if it’s inadvertent — that customer feedback doesn’t matter. That can turn even loyal shoppers off.
Avoid these pitfalls by responding to your clients’ reviews — and by doing so consistently, regardless of whether they’re positive or negative. Here are some step-by-step strategies to help you handle each:
Mistake #2: Focusing on the Wrong Review Platforms
Don’t get us wrong: every review platform relevant to your client’s business is worth actively monitoring. After all, even a review on a minor app or website can still have major consequences for your client’s business if it, for instance, alleges serious problems like discrimination or fraud. To manage your clients’ reputations effectively, you need to be vigilant across multiple platforms, which a dedicated review management system can help you accomplish more easily.
That being said, some review platforms are more critical to your clients’ success than others. Don’t make the mistake of failing to identify and monitor them — or worse, funneling resources toward platforms that your clients’ customers aren’t using. Here are two factors that will help you determine which review platforms your agency should prioritize:
- Size — Some review platforms are simply too large and widely-used to be ignored. Yelp, for instance, reported receiving roughly 224 million reviews in 2020. Other major platforms that every business should monitor include Facebook and Google.
- Industry — Industry-specific review sites are crucial to monitor, even if their visitor counts seem low compared to giants like Yelp, Google, and Facebook. (Of course, not all industry-oriented review sites are exactly “small.” TripAdvisor, for instance — a site primarily dedicated to the hotel and restaurant industries — reports receiving “390 million monthly unique visitors.”)
For example, if you primarily serve clients in the restaurant industry, it’s imperative for your agency to monitor and respond to reviews not only on Yelp or Google, but also restaurant-geared sites like Foursquare, Citysearch, OpenTable, Gayot, Zagat, and Zomato — to name just a few. Here are some additional examples of notable, industry-specific review sites that your agency may want to prioritize, depending on the composition of your client base:
- Automotive — Cars.com, Edmunds, DealerRater
- Education — GreatSchools, Niche.com (formerly College Prowler), SchoolDigger
- Healthcare — Healthgrades, ZocDoc
Mistake #3: Using Generic Language to Respond to Reviews
As we’ve repeatedly stressed in our tips on replying to reviews, you should never use generic, “canned,” or boilerplate language — especially not when your goal is to strengthen your client’s reputation as a company that cares about its community, customers, and/or workforce. That brings us to the third mistake: recycling and copy-pasting replies.
While it’s appropriate and even inevitable to repeat certain sentiments — for instance, you should always thank the customer for their feedback, regardless of the review’s contents — you should still vary the language you use to express those sentiments. Here’s an example of what we mean.
- “Thanks for your review, Jim!”
- “Thanks for your review, Sarah!”
- “Thanks for your review, Ashley!”
The above will be immediately obvious to any customer (or potential customer) browsing your client’s reviews and responses. Here’s a better solution.
- “Thanks for your review, Jim!”
- “Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your feedback with our team.”
- “Hi Ashley, thank you for leaving us a comment!”
Yes, it takes a little additional effort to personalize each review reply — but that personalization is exactly what modern consumers are looking for. Customizing each reply shows that:
- A real human — not a bot — is viewing and responding to customer reviews.
- The business values the specific feedback it receives from each of its customers.
- A team or individual is available to resolve customers’ complaints if anything goes wrong with your service or product.
Mistake #4: Not Responding to Reviews Quickly Enough
Maybe it happened because of technical problems, like having incorrect site logins. Maybe it happened because of the COVID-related issues that have impacted so many businesses over the past year. Maybe it happened because of the sheer time demands of running your agency or marketing your brand. But whatever the issue might have been, old reviews have piled up as a consequence — and now you have a response backlog that stretches back by weeks or months. Don’t let yourself slip into this scenario, which is mistake number four on our list: not responding to reviews in a timely fashion.
But why shouldn’t you? And what does “timely” mean, anyway?
The answer to both questions is that a substantial portion of consumers — about one in five — expect to receive a response within 24 hours or less, according to recent data. Some agencies may push their response times longer, but we wouldn’t recommend it, particularly since so many reviews contain comments or questions that are time-sensitive, such as reviews pertaining to:
- Pests, heat, flooding, ice, service outages/disruptions, or related issues
- Health and safety issues
- Questions about upcoming or recent fees, payments, or charges
- Cancellations and sign-ups
- Persistent or recurring problems with a product (or even an employee)
- Limited-time offers and deals
- Scheduling and appointments
- Unusual situations like emergency closures or extreme weather
Ask About Our Review Reply Service for Agencies and Brands
Whether your agency wants to overhaul its entire white label review management strategy, or you’re specifically interested in our review response service, Shout About Us provides flexible, scalable solutions to meet your evolving needs — and those of your clients. Our experienced team of response scribes ensures that your clients’ reviews receive personalized responses within 24 hours, while our Review Navigator system makes it easy to create, monitor, and update listings.
With features like custom domains and URLs, custom integrations via API/Zapier, and sales resources to acquire new customers, our systems are optimized digital agencies and brands — and with our response scribes responding for you, you’ll have even more power to deliver results for your clients.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.