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Mike M.

I wanted to thank you for the good work LinkNow Media has been doing for Mathers Electric’s Google Listings.

I googled Electricians Tallahassee FL and we came up on the first page, real close to the top. We have a 5 star rating and 10 excellent google
Reviews. I did not see another electric company with a 5 star rating. Before I started using LinkNow Media I could not get this to happen.

No matter how much I payed other companies. We now get most of our new business from the Web (Google).

Sincerely and forever grateful, Mike Mathers

President of Mathers Electric Co., Inc.

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Receiving Fake Reviews From Competitors

In this day and age, dishonest companies have been able to stoop to new lows by attempting to damage their competitor’s reputation online with fake reviews.

While it may not be immediately obvious that a competitor is attacking you, a quick check through their other reviews should give you a clue. They are likely attacking other similar businesses in the area. If negative reviews are posted on other competitor’s pages within a tight timeframe, you’ve got the start of a case.

Fake and negative reviews are tricky to deal with. Always do your research before dealing with them, or you may be responding inappropriately to someone who is simply expressing their displeasure. Remember—there is such thing as a legitimate negative review. Take these as constructive criticism, and respond politely.

Tact at All Times

When responding to a fake negative review from your competitor, practice tact at all times. Whether this negative review is legitimate or not, treat it with the same respect. Follow these steps to compose a polite and professional response:

Breathe

Literally. Breathing exercises will calm you down, so take a few deep breaths.

Don’t take it personally.

A difficult one, but part of being a professional.

Address the issue.

Start your response off by repeating their complaint. For example: I understand that you (insert situation here).

State your core values.

Inform the reviewer of your business’ core values and why they don’t match with what happened.

Make a game plan.

Tell the reviewer what you plan to do to remedy the situation. If this is a competitor leaving a fake review, you likely will not actually do this because the situation did not occur. But, existing and potential customers will appreciate seeing what you would do if it really had happened.

Say thank you.

Thank the negative reviewer for their constructive criticism and invite them back to experience your business again in a better light sometime in the future.

Even if you expect this review to be removed, there will be wait time. Writing a proper response is of value to your future clients. Don’t lose business and allow your competitor to accomplish what they came to your review page for in the first place.

Keep on Keeping on

Being a business owner will always come with its ups and downs. This is what professionalism is all about! Practice being a professional adult at all times, flag inappropriate reviews and represent yourself well.

Should Google not agree with your report, you can always escalate the situation, encourage friends and family to flag the reviews as well, and tweet @GoogleSmallBiz to hurry the process along.

Like with school yard bullying, a reaction is always what a troll wants, so give them a minimal one. In the end, you make your own reputation in the business world and can overcome anything by keeping a cool head.

Business Owners’ Bad Review Responses A Case Study

Reviews are a fact of life when it comes to running a business.

They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy—depending on how you deal with them.

While it is tempting to write a scathing and entertaining response to people who leave negative reviews, as a professional, it is your duty to hold your tongue and not let your emotions do the thinking.

Below, are some examples of negative review responses, and how they could have been handled better.

1.

Where to start?

Firstly, admitting that you are inebriated when discussing a business issue is never OK. One shouldn’t be drunk in the first place when you’re on the clock (and yes, if you’re responding to reviews in your own time, that counts), but publicly admitting it is highly unprofessional. Next, making personal critiques (grammar) and suggesting a customer see a psychologist is not constructive. Especially when your own grammar and sanity could be up for review.

A more appropriate response to this review would be to apologize for their bad experience, and address the price issues. If your restaurant does have fluctuating prices, that should be noted in store and online so customers are prepared. There can certainly be reasons for this practice but it should be transparent so customers aren’t surprised.

2.

This one isn’t quite as extreme as the last, and could very well be true. However, this response is tinged with sarcasm and, if true, reveals unnecessary personal information. An apology in this case would have been better—state that you were unavailable for serious personal reasons, list that it was no excuse to not communicate with customers and let them know it won’t happen again. Offer them a discount or other incentive on a future booking should they be in town again.

If for some reason the situation is an emergency that keeps you away from your work, and you don’t have someone who can help you out with your business in this way, maybe think about hiring an assistant.

3.

As a business owner, your responses should not look like it was written by a ten year old

…and this one is a great example of what that means. Sure, this review was not the classiest, but the appropriate response would be to take the higher ground. As always, apologize! If you were having a bad day, admit that you were and say it was wrong of you to take it out on customers. Depending on what the prices are, they could be explained/defended in some way. Maybe point out that your aim is not to be cheap but to provide quality food.

What review responses come down to is the old adage “The customer is always right”. They may really not be, but your job as a business owner is to represent yourself and your company in the best way possible, no matter what others are provoking you to do. Responses can always be formulated to be reasonable even when defending oneself, but if you don’t have the time to compose something that is well thought out, apologies are the best policy.

Happy review reading, everyone!

Online Presence: Tips for Startups

start up

We’ve talked a few times about the importance of responding to online reviews. Whether you’re dealing with a favorable opinion or harsh criticism, it’s important that you acknowledge your customers and respond appropriately. However, before you can respond to any reviews, you first need to be aware that you’ve received reviews. This can be a difficult and time-consuming task for a new business owner juggling several responsibilities. Who has time to keep up with all that? Luckily, there are many tools available that will help you keep up with what people are saying about your business, such as:

Which Monitor Tool is Best?

Some of these tools are more robust than others, so you’ll want to research each one to determine which is best suited for your business. As a startup, it’s in your best interest to go with a more dynamic tool. No one knows who you are, and that means you’ll need a strong web presence from the get-go.

Why Monitoring is Important for New Businesses

People trust online reviews in the same way they trust personal recommendations, but you’re not going to earn trust overnight. Establishing solid relationships with your customers takes time and effort, and it starts online. These days, people are expecting to see a company response, so you can’t afford to not reply. This is your chance to show your customers that you are approachable and can relate to their situation, whether it’s good or bad. It’s also an opportunity to spread the word about how people can get in touch with you, whether that’s by phone, email, or social media.

Why Do You Need A Strong Online Presence?

How people perceive your company is everything, and the stakes are higher for startups. You don’t have the chance to establish yourself then transition online. You’re doing these things tandem, and it can be a lot to handle. Monitoring tools like the ones listed above can make the process of responding a lot less tedious.

Having a strong online presence is an important factor in the success of your business, and having a conversation with your customers in the comments section on review sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Trip Advisor is a huge part of that. It’s unfortunate that so many startups fail in the first 5 years simply because business owners struggle when it comes to managing their online presence.

Closing

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are always looking for new tools that help small business owners manage their online presence, so stay tuned.

How Successful Companies Respond to Tweets

planeThere’s no shortage of people on the internet sharing advice on the best and worst ways to respond to negative feedback. A lot of it seems like common-sense: be kind, be prompt, offer an apology. Still, as much as fighting fire with fire seems like an obvious no-no, keeping cool can be difficult when faced with harsh criticism. Hearing nasty words about your company isn’t easy, especially when a lot of people can see it, so your gut reaction may be to go on the defense. You can brush up all you want on the do’s and don’ts, but it doesn’t change the fact that negative Tweets can often leave you at a loss for words. Likewise, even words of praise can prove difficult. How do you show your customer’s your appreciation in a way that is personable? Sometimes, it helps to take a hint from the pros.

Quick Response Times and Problem Solvers

Airlines probably get the most abuse in terms of customer reviews. Think about it, one thing goes wrong and it’s the end of the world. Travelers are often overtired, jet lagged and in a hurry to get home or begin their trip. No one writes a scathing review like an unsatisfied vacationer who has a delayed flight or missing baggage. Jet Blue usually responds to online comments within an hour. Their Twitter feed is impressive! People experiencing flight concerns, luggage hassles, Wi-Fi or boarding issues are less likely to post a negative review if they receive speedy social media replies. Sometimes a negative comment will be retracted and replaced with a positive one. As long as you show your support and demonstrate that your company is working its hardest to deliver the best services available everything will be just fine! Just use Jet Blue as your guiding Twitter source.

Always empathetic, Jet Blue demonstrates their ability to empathize with unhappy customers. In this instance, it took them 30 minutes to resolve an issue during a flight.

The Client is Always Right

A client is always right, even when they’re not. Customer satisfaction means knowing that whatever the circumstance, the client is top priority. No matter how upset, angry or insulting their feedback is; always respond professionally and empathetically. The professionalism will reflect positively on your brand and makes it easier for people to voice their opinion.

Personalized Responses

Just apologizing and directing an unsatisfied client to a helpline or saying a generic thanks to a raving review is not enough. Show your customers that what they say matters and make your replies personal. What are you more likely to respond to; a massive text for a party or a friend’s personal invite?  Exactly. You want to directly tag people, use personalized well written responses, and refrain from all things mechanical, generic and impersonal.  When you actively engage with online followers, you’ll gain more visibility and improve ratings. Zipcar is known for their positive responses to clients who are either frustrated or satisfied with services.

Have Some Fun!

Unsure on how to respond to sarcastic twitter remarks and followers poking fun at your company? First step is to not take yourselves too seriously and maybe even poke back, in a friendly sassy way! Not only will humor detract from a rude or sarcastic comment, it’ll showcase your company as a brand that knows how to have fun and can take a joke. Old Spice is known for their provocative and funny Twitter feed. They respond to ridiculous posts on a regular basis and in return end up creating a lot more visibility for themselves.

Closing

So what do you do when a disgruntled customer writes a horrible evaluation online for everyone to see? Feeling offended by a biting review is normal, but the most important thing to do is to sit back, and think to yourself; am I reacting or responding? What message am I sending out and how will this reflect on the company? If I were a distraught client, how would I want customer service to respond and what would make me feel better?  Treat others the way you would like to be treated, and you’ll be more than fine!

3 Reasons Why You Should Share Yelp Reviews on Facebook

yelp yelpFacebook is a great platform for enhancing your brand image, sharing ongoing promotions, and building meaningful relationships. If you manage your company’s Facebook page and post regularly, you are likely already doing these things. However, can you be doing more? If you have a Yelp profile, you should consider sharing your customer’s positive reviews with your Facebook friends. This is one area that many businesses shy away from because it involves tooting your own horn, but you shouldn’t be afraid to share what others are saying about you, especially words of praise.

If you don’t like the idea of boasting your achievements, here are three reasons that might change your mind:

Your customers will love it!

Yelpers take writing reviews very seriously. They see it their duty to help others by sharing their experience with your company, regardless of if it was positive or negative. So, what’s in it for them? Besides perks, like free food at restaurants, Yelpers don’t really get paid. Putting a Yelp reviewer in the spotlight is like giving them a virtual slap on the back. They will love the limelight, and this exposure has the potential to opens doors of opportunity.

It’s free and easy advisement!

Word of mouth is still the best form of advertisement, and it won’t cost you a cent! Plus, Yelp makes sharing reviews via Facebook as easy as clicking a few buttons. All you need to do is log in to your business account, go to “Account Settings”, click “Change Settings” in “External Services,” then click “Connect to Facebook.” From there, all you need to do is log in to your Facebook account and click the “Allow” button. Now, all of your Yelp reviews will post to your Facebook wall. That means negative reviews, too. This something that every business will have to deal with at one point or another, even businesses with high ratings. Look at it as an opportunity to show your customers that you will go the extra mile to find a solution and fix a problem.

Others will follow suit!

Sometimes all it takes is one happy customer for positive reviews to spread like wildfire. A positive review can encourage a Facebook friend to comment or head to Yelp to share a similar experience. Sharing your Yelp reviews on Facebook grants you access to an audience you couldn’t reach on Yelp alone. Keep in mind, if you don’t want to automatically share reviews, you can always copy and paste the review as a status.

Closing

While Yelp may be more popular for those in the food and beverage industry, any business of any size can benefit from creating a Yelp profile. Once created, your customers can easily find your business location, post reviews and photos, and rate your business! Let them do most of the legwork. You work hard enough!

 

 

3 Ways to Attract Online Customer Reviews

email 2Positive customer reviews are important. How important? Consider this: 88% of consumers are influenced by online reviews. That means what your customers are saying about you online plays a HUGE role in the buying process, for better or worse. The key to getting positive reviews is, well, doing a good a job. It’s that simple. Put your customer first, deliver excellent service, and offer excellent products. Many business owners tend to overthink getting positive reviews and will go to great lengths to get them, even if that means going against Google’s guidelines.

Here are three legitimate ways you can attract online customer reviews:

Make forms easy

People like writing reviews. Whether sharing a good experience or bad experience, a majority of people will take 5 minutes out of their day to let others know if your company is worth their time or money. So, throw them a bone. Make it easy for them. Unless someone has something really bad to say about your company, no one is going spend time looking for a place to write a review. Create profiles wherever you can: Yelp, LinkedIn, Yahoo Local, Google Local, Trip Advisor, and Angie’s List. It’s also helpful to integrate a testimonials page on your website. This will allow a customer to leave a review with ease, and it’s a great way to boost your ranking on search listings.

Offer incentives

When it comes to online reviews, you need to be ethical. If you’re a startup, you may be tempted to buy positive online reviews. Quick word of advice: don’t. If your customers can’t spot the fakes, online review sites will. Not only will that cost you your reputation, you’ll also have to pay a hefty fine. Fake reviews are fraud. Why shoot yourself in the foot? Sometimes, all your customer needs is a little push to write a review. Offering an incentive, such as a discount on a future service, can be that extra thing that gets them sharing their thoughts about their experience. If you have a physical storefront hang up posters to let them know about the contest, or you can share it on social media.

Share reviews

Creating a company Facebook page is free and easy –  there is no reason why your business shouldn’t have one. It’s a great way to enhance your brand, share ongoing specials and promotions, and build and maintain relationships with your clientele. It can also be used to share positive reviews. Your customers will love being in the limelight, and their good word will motivate other satisfied customers to follow suit. It’s a win-win.

Closing

Online reviews are the new word of mouth. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely people are to choose your company over local competition. Keep in mind, that you will get a negative review from time to time. That’s life. See it as opportunity to show your clients that you care about your company by finding a solution to their problem.

3 Points to Keep in Mind When Responding to Negative Social Media Comments

3 Points to keep in mind

Social media is a great way to enhance your brand, engage with existing and prospective clients, and broadcast current deals or special offers. Unfortunately, every good thing has a dark side. When clients want to give you a piece of their mind, they turn to Yelp, Facebook, or Twitter. Negative feedback isn’t anything new, but how we respond to criticism has definitely changed.

Respond Quickly

There’s a rule in the dating world that says you should wait at least 15 minutes before texting a love interest back. You don’t want to come across as desperate, after all! Does the same rule apply to relationships with your clients? When it comes to your clients, this strategy is going to do more harm than good. A negative comment with no reply comes across like you don’t care about your customers, and that can seriously damage your reputation.

Respond Directly

Personalization is key when it comes to addressing angry comments. The “we’re sorry to hear you had that experience…” response seems trite, and is only going to further infuriate an already infuriated customer. Harsh criticism is never fun, but it can be an opportunity to show that you care about your customer’s experience and that you will do whatever you can to resolve the issue. Find a solution to THEIR specific problem.

Respond Kindly

Remember, you can’t fight fire with fire. While going on the defense might be your gut reaction, it never makes matters better. You also don’t want to ignore or delete a negative response. Understand where your client is coming from and offer a thoughtful apology. They will be more likely to give you a second chance or write a follow-up explaining how your company fixed their problem.

Closing 

In a perfect world, it would be all positive reviews, rainbows, and unicorns, but negative feedback is a reality. People are more inclined to write a review after a negative experience than a positive one. If you don’t have time to manage your social media accounts, it is worth hiring someone to do that full time.

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