Online reviews offer a very public space for customers to have their say about your company. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the world of blogging have given customers a voice, and they’re not afraid to use it. So should you open your website and social media pages to the world? Here are a few things to consider before taking the leap:

Build Trust With Your Target Market

In highly competitive markets, one of the hardest things to do is build a credible brand that customers trust and connect with. Every day, consumers are exposed to thousands of messages on television, online and during their daily commute. This exposure has helped develop a smart, savvy customer population with a tolerance for the tricks of the marketing trade. Hosting customer reviews is a great way to bring credibility to your website. People are far more likely to trust a customer review than sponsored content that shows up on their Facebook feed. And with 30% of customers using online reviews as their main source of pre-purchase information, inviting reviews is a great way to lure customers away from the competition and start making conversions.

It’s Not Always Easy

Reviews are not a fast track for success. If managed incorrectly, they can lead to a PR nightmare. Before you allow your brand to be judged by the world, remember that you can’t delete unflattering reviews on channels such as Facebook. While you can report inappropriate content, it can still take some time before it’s removed. If you’ve sent out customer surveys before, you know that customers who have had very good or very bad experiences are far more likely to respond. Unfortunately, unsatisfied customers are even more likely to post. This could lead to a highly visible negative post right on your wall for everyone to see. Negative reviews can make it hard to find talent, too. Sixty percent of job seekers say they would not apply to a company with only a one-star rating. So be careful out there.

Be Ready to Respond

If you do have a disgruntled customer who’s posting bad reviews, it’s important to act quickly. A study by Simply Measured found that only 10% of companies respond to complaints on Twitter in less than an hour. If you can quickly find a solution, a simple apology is often enough and the chances of resolving the issue are high. First, respond privately to the customer, and be sure your response is empathetic and makes the customer feel like you really care. Once the resolution is achieved, make a public comment acknowledging the fix. A study by Dimensional Research found that 33% of customers who had positive customer service experiences went on to tell more than five people about it!

Final Thoughts

If you’re prepared to have a dialogue with your customers, you can achieve great things for your business. Online word of mouth and customer reviews can help you build brand equity, gain trust and add credibility to your offerings. Just be sure to listen to what your customers are saying. Both complaints and comments can give you great insights into how to improve your products and services … and all for free! To learn more about Online Marketing Gurus, visit our website.