I have been doing a bit of work in the reputation management space as of late, and the subject of customer review management comes up a lot.
There are probably hundreds of review management services out there, and it’s difficult to understand what makes one better than the other. With that in mind, I thought it would be helpful to provide a list of questions for those in the market for a review management service:
1. Do you syndicate content? If so, where?
If the reviews actually go to multiple places, then one review has the power of many reviews. If they go to only one place, like the business’ website, that might be fine, too. But you should understand where the reviews are going to show up before you start.
2. How will you help me with negative reviews?
You know that negative reviews are going to come. When you get them, can you use the service to respond to negative reviews? Can you reach out to customers via the service? Having a game plan for negative reviews at the start is always advisable so you are not in crisis mode when it happens.
3. How many different ways will you offer to help capture reviews?
Not everybody is going to respond to a review request in the same way. The more ways you can get in front of customers, the better you’ll be able to get them to respond.
4. Do you believe in your product enough to make your contracts month-to-month?
5. If I cancel my contract, are all of my reviews removed?
This can be a slightly uncomfortable question for some in the industry, but it’s certainly worth knowing about before you sign on the dotted line.
6. Are you one of the “bad actors”? (And I’m not talking about Paris Hilton.)
- Do you create fake accounts to post reviews?
- Will you let me block all of my negative reviews?
- Will you or I make up my reviews?
I personally don’t care which route you take. If faking reviews is your thing and you want to take the risk and poison the public, well, don’t be surprised if your Yelp page gets a nasty logo on it and your Google reviews get taken down. Just be sure you know if you’re buying Paris Hilton or Kevin Spacey.
7. Can you automate the review request process so I don’t have to input any data?
If you can’t, I am going to stop remembering to use your service in a few months.
This is really important for local businesses.You don’t think about this when you sign up because you’re all stoked about it, but sooner or later you move onto other things. Local Viewpoints has an interesting automated review solution.
8. Will you help me get reviews in all of the places that matter to me like Google, Yelp, etc.?
Lots of review vendors will point you toward just their solution to capture reviews, but what a business cares about is having reviews everywhere, not just in one specific place, so they’re picking up leads from a lot of different sources. I really like the way Get Five Stars does this.
9. Can I manage multiple locations from one dashboard?
If you’ve ever tried to manage multiple locations from multiple dashboards, you would know why I’ve committed mock suicide… multiple times. I think Customer Lobby does a great job with its dashboard.
10. Do you have a mobile or a kiosk option so I can collect reviews in person/on-site?
Often times, you’ll have a higher review capture rate if you hit up the customer right at the moment of happiness. As time goes by, there will be less impetus to write a review. (Re using a kiosk, this is against both Google’s and Yelp’s rules, so if you want to use kiosks to get reviews, I suggest you send people to review sites that don’t mind if you do this. Your website, for instance.)
Ok, I know I said ten questions, but here are a couple of bonus questions (“10″ looks so nice in the headline).
- How easy is it for customers to use? The #1 reason people don’t write online reviews is because the process is too tedious.
- Does the service provide tracking for all customer comments across the Web?
- Is there a social component that will help spread the reviews across the Web?
- Does the service provide actionable insights to help me improve my business?
- How does the service integrate into my daily workflow?
- Will I be alerted when I need to take action on something?
- Oh yeah… how much?
Now go forth and do something worth reviewing.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.