Power in the Post – Getting The Most From Online Ratings

Online ratings have been around for more than a decade, and they have become a normalcy in today’s online world. More than ever users are posting their customer experiences to websites like Yelp. Some vent and hope to be heard because of a negative experience, and others offer praise in the hope that others will support worthy local businesses.

But online ratings can be detrimental to a company if they are not aware of what is being said.

Like most other online users, when I am seeking out a particular type of store, trying a new restaurant or taking a vacation to an unfamiliar area, I will look for online reviews to see if it is worth my time. When I see a handful of negative posts or anything under three stars, I will typically move on to another company. This is where online monitoring is crucial for a company, if the negative comments continue to increase, potential customers won’t take the chance to experience the business themselves.

A company can do three things to counteract the negative responses and increase their positive ratings:

  1. Respond to negative posts – Most of the time when a customer is venting online it is because they just want to be heard. Acknowledging their issue and letting them know you hear them may be enough to encourage them to change their post or eliminate it all together. This doesn’t mean giving a 25%-off-next-visit coupon for each complaint, but to have a conversation and see where the negative experience is stemming from and address it appropriately. And above all, respond quickly. Showing your company is listening and is actively working to solve the problem leaves a lasting positive impression with the commenter and other readers.
  2. Ask for reviews – On a recent vacation I had no choice but to stay in a hotel that was rated lower than three stars, but my actual experience was better than some four star hotels. As I was checking out, I was given a card and asked to give a review. Understanding the struggle they must be enduring from their low ratings, I felt providing my positive feedback was only right.
  3. Apply the negative posts to improve company behavior – Some negative posts can be strictly rants and provide no constructive criticism, but if you are seeing time and again that consumers are complaining about one particular thing, such as customer service, it may be time to address the issue internally.

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