One of the factors of online listings that are on the rise is user-generated content through images, videos and reviews, allowing customers to shape the online narrative of your business. While the business used to be in complete control, the ability for customers to contribute to listings puts the customer on equal ground, including both happy and unhappy patrons. This puts businesses in a unique position: a happy customer can leave you a glowing review about your products or services, but leave a dark, unflattering photo on your listing that portrays your company in a less-than-ideal light. There are several places you should keep an eye on your online presence and customer interactions:
Customer – Added Images
User-submitted images are a common issue faced by businesses: many customers are not going to take professional grade, well-lit photos, even if they are happy with your company. As the business owner, you will not be able to prevent these images from appearing on your listing or remove them yourself. The most you will be able to do is flag them for being low quality or spam if you feel it is not representative of your business and wait for someone from Google to respond. This does not mean that the images will be removed. Anything that is taken down will need to meet criteria set by Google.
Questions & Answers
Google My Business has a feature that allows customers to ask questions directly on your listing and have them answered by either your business representatives or past customers. While certain questions can be productive and helpful, such as whether or not you keep weekend services or have special weekend hours, others can be unrelated to your business and practices or too vague to be answered concisely. On the flip side, a customer answering a question can relay bad or inaccurate information such as incorrect hours, services and accepted payment methods. This can be for a number of reasons: the customer may have used your company long ago, before a policy change; the customer could have misunderstood information or received it secondhand; or the customer could be accruing points towards incentives for answering questions. Points allow users to become Local Guides, boosting up their reviews and allowing them to collect small discounts from various services such as delivery food and Uber rides. In order to reduce the amount of misinformation posted about your business online, it is important to curate high-quality reviews from your customers.
Reviews are a critical part of your online presence, with your ranking on search engines going up as your reputation improves. While there isn’t much you can do to prevent negative reviews from unhappy customers, you can make sure your happy customers are left satisfied enough to leave positive reviews. Make sure your customers know the name of the representatives they are working with by having each team member wear nametags. If you receive a negative review, make sure to respond to it in a constructive way, encouraging the customer to contact your customer service or office administrator to discuss their concerns and reach a compromise.